News & Views
The Troy Carter effect

Troy Carter, the manager best known for helping to launch the career of Lady Gaga, has rebranded as a tech mogul. In addition to joining the board of WeTransfer in a bid to make it the file-sharing platform of choice among the creative community, Carter is also the founder of start-up accelerator Smashd Labs.

The leap from music to tech isn’t as big as it sounds. Gaga’s stratospheric success was undoubtedly aided by the fact that Carter introduced her to the pop market at a time when social media fandom was exploding; he masterminded private Gaga fan network back in 2012. And staying attuned to the ups and downs of tech and social has been a core component in the success of Atom Factory, Carter’s full-service talent management agency.

Carter himself is already an investor in companies as diverse as Spotify and Warby Parker. Now, with Smashd Labs, he’s hoping to use his experience and resources to help shape the next generation of disruptors.

“On the artist side, we made a significant investment in very young artists from the very beginning of their careers and helped them become global superstars, says Carter. “So, on the entrepreneurs’ side, the idea of the labs was to be able to create this ecosystem to help them from the very beginning, to see them through from development and hopefully until they become large companies.”

A number of start-ups made their debut at Smashd’s inaugural demo day last week:

• Enrou: A site which helps makers connect with a global customer base.
• Sidestep: An app which lets music lovers buy merchandise during gigs without the lengthy queuing times. (Merch sales are an increasingly important part of artist revenue in the streaming age.)
• Throne: A peer-to-peer style and footwear platform.
• Trakfire: Described as “Product Hunt for music,” Trakfire features a daily leader board of up-and-coming tracks curated and voted for by users.

WeTransfer was also one of the start-ups selected to be part of Smashd’s demo. “It’s a very unsexy business,” says Carter, “when you look at the space in general, it looks more like a utility. But [WeTransfer] have done an incredible job of recognising that creators have spent so much time creating a beautiful song or photograph or short film, and that you shouldn’t have to send it through a shitty utility with an ugly banner ad.”

Carter’s emphasis on style and substance has already disrupted the pop industry — maybe lightning will strike twice, and one of these start-ups will prove to be the Gaga of the tech world.

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