Cariappa decided to combine his experience in digital marketing and music to create Muzikali a music site that brings together students and teachers

Remember how you couldn’t agree more with that meme on Facebook that read, “In India, people first become engineers before they decide what they want to do”? The tale is true of many, including 27-year-old Bangalorean, Cariappa CK.

An engineering graduate, Cariappa spent exactly 42 days in an oil refinery in Gujarat, pulling levers and pushing plugs, before returning to Bangalore, deciding never to work in a related field, ever. “I joined a startup, eLitmus.com, as one of the early employees,” says Cariappa. “I worked various sales and marketing roles, eventually heading marketing. I was exposed to the many marketing challenges small businesses face in terms of resources and expertise. That was when I started Wolf (www.thewolf.in), a marketing services firm for small businesses.”

While digital marketing kept Cariappa busy, he started teaching guitar on the weekends to keep in touch with his first love, music. “It was then that I realised the need for a solution in this space. Sreerekha Madivala, and I connected and discussed how we could make music more relevant to people – and Muzikali was born.”

Cariappa decided to capitalise on his experience in digital marketing and his expertise in music. It is this convergence that makes Muzikali a favourite with learners and facilitators.

According to Cariappa, “On Muzikali you could search by choice of instrument, genre, and locality and connect with the relevant musicians. You could get content, learn better, and interact or collaborate with people with similar interests. While our technology platform is due for release in a couple of weeks, our website is up and running.”

“Statistically speaking, eight out of 10 people who start to learn music quit after three months. This frustrates not only the student but also his teacher, who loses a recurring revenue stream and taxes both their confidences. Muzikali increases a student’s chances of learning while also providing a stable income to musicians.”

He adds: “We’re not only streamlining a fragmented market by creating an intelligent way for these two sections of people to meet but also, building the necessary infrastructure for this to become a sustainable activity.”

“Music has always been my passion. I have been writing songs since when I was in school and have taught and performed for over 10 years. Having built design, technology and marketing expertise over the past year and a half, we wanted to leverage this to creating products and solutions that people love. So, Muzikali was a natural extension of these two experiences. And it really helps that we have people on board with over 20 years of product and technology experience.”

On the flipside, he says: “As with any consumer web business, the obvious challenge is to acquire and retain users. For this, our solution must constantly evolve to stay relevant to users. It helps that we have many senior folks, both from the start-up and music space, such as Carnatic vocalist, Vani Sateesh Srinivas Seshadri a successful entrepreneur and advisor and Rajnish Menon, Director, Microsoft Ventures, as mentors.”

While their current focus is two-fold, “working on our application and signing up musicians, looking ahead, we hope to bring music closer to people and provide opportunities to musicians, which was hitherto unavailable to them.”

This column features those who choose to veer off the beaten track.