SXSW Contest Winner: Being a Young Entrepreneur in Michigan

March 27, 2013

in Business Growth,Technology Entrepreneurship & Innovation

With graduation season approaching, college seniors are focusing on their career paths. Michigan State senior, Josh Leider recently won the South by Southwest Interactive’s “Student Startup Madness” tournament for an app created with other Michigan State University students called TempoRun. Josh and his team were up against other ideas from technology start-up entrepreneurs across the country.  Josh shares with us why he turned down a job offer in Seattle to stay in Michigan and why the state is a great place to launch TempoRun.

Tell us about yourself:

My name is Josh Leider. I am 22 and a senior in the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University (MSU). Recently I turned down a job in Seattle to pursue my new venture TempoRun.

What is TempoRun?

TempoRun is a new mobile app that allows a runner to always match their running pace to the tempo of their music. The app takes all the music on a user’s smartphone and categorizes each song into specific levels, 1-10, based on tempo. When on a certain “Tempo Level,” every song will be the same tempo and you can match your running pace to the beat to create a more consistent, fluid, and most importantly, enjoyable run. Running to the tempo of music is scientifically proven to increase fitness abilities by up to 15 percent.

Where did the idea for TempoRun come from?

I was running one day listening to my music, when all of the sudden a song came on my playlist that was the perfect tempo for me to match my running pace to. I began to match my pace to the tempo and my run felt so perfect, better than it ever had. I was having fun (which was unheard of while I was running) and then the song ended and a new one came on at a completely different tempo that I could not run to. Then I thought to myself, “Why can’t I always run to the tempo of my music.” Voila! TempoRun!

How did you turn this idea into a reality?

I have worked on a few ventures in the past so I knew how to begin the process. Then, we contacted the computer science department at MSU and they introduced us to our two amazing developers, Adam Proschek and Phil Getzen (and eventually our newest developer Ryan Tempas). Adam, Phil and Ryan have been working on the app ever since.

The biggest help we’ve received has been from Spartan Innovations and the Hatch, which are resource centers for MSU entrepreneurs lead by Paul Jaques. They have provided us with market research, logo design, financial modeling and more. Honestly, we would not be where we are today without them. Every MSU entrepreneur should be part of the Hatch. Now, we eat, breathe, and sleep TempoRun and are gearing up for our launch in early May.

You recently won South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive’s “Student Startup Madness” tournament. Can you explain the competition and the experience?

We kind of applied as a joke. We did not think for a second we were going to make it to the finals…and then we did! Our company was selected to be part of the entrepreneurial eight, which would pitch at SxSW to big name tech industries individuals, including co-founders and directors from Google, Square, Turner Broadcasting, and more. So we pitched, ended up winning and made some of the most important contacts we have made to date.

What’s next for TempoRun?

Launch! We cannot wait to get the app out to the public. I have been using it on my runs and it is absolutely amazing. It is everything I envisioned it to be and more. And I wouldn’t lie about that. I am a runner and if the app wasn’t good, I would not still be working on it. We are also throwing a charity 5k at MSU on April 21st to support the fight against breast cancer. My mother is currently fighting the disease so this one hits home for me.

We hear from entrepreneurs across the state that Michigan is a great place to start a company and many established businesses/mentors often will lend advice. Have you had support from businesses/mentors?

We have had so much amazing support and mentorship. Most of our mentorship has been from Paul Jaques and Jeff Smith over at MSU, but we have met so many amazing Michigan entrepreneurs that have given us advice that has shaped what TempoRun is today. So much love and support in this mitten.

Why do you think Michigan is a good place to live and to work?

The culture. The Midwest has some of the best culture in the United States. Michigan has a heart-warming community that can’t be beat and if you are into camping like me, we have the Upper Peninsula, which is beautiful!

Do you have any advice for aspiring technology entrepreneurs?

Like Nike says, JUST DO IT! Don’t be scared to jump into this crazy start up world and give your idea a shot. If your idea doesn’t work out, you end up right back where you started but with tons of knowledge on how to start you next venture. And if your idea does succeed, you are on the road to success! All in all, you can’t lose. The U.S. puts too much weight on: going to college, getting an internship and getting a job. You DON’T have to do that, and I cannot stress that enough. Roll with your idea, see where it takes you and I promise you will be happy with the results.

Where can we learn more about TempoRun?

Visit our website, Facebook and Twitter page.

Josh is a Founder and CEO of TempoRun and is currently heading the project. He is a senior in the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University, pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and a Minor in Economics. He will be graduating in May 2013.




Are you an entrepreneur or business leader in Michigan and want to share your success story or tell how Michigan has helped your business grow? Share your story on the Michigan Advantage blog! Learn more about being a guest blogger

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