A missing drummer laid the foundation for Grace Tooher’s business, Jam Forest.
It’s a long way to Tipperary but Grace Tooher’s business road hasn’t been too long as a unique approach and idea has helped her progress JamForest rather quickly.
Prior to JamForest, Tooher was living and gigging with her band ‘Staring at Lakes’ in Dublin for four and a half years, a band she set up with her brother, cousin and two best friends. This experience, as front woman and lead singer with the band for over 10 years saw them appear on a wide range of TV and radio shows including Other Voices, Whelans Ones to Watch, Hard Working Class Heroes, 2fm, as well as performing at several music festivals and prestigious venues in Dublin and across Ireland. After completing an MSC in Creative Digital Media in DIT, Grace moved back to Tipperary to give serious time to a business idea she felt could work outside of just being a college project. From here she applied for The New Frontiers Programme at the Rubicon Centre and a move to Cork ensued.
Speaking of JamForest, Grace describes it as “a global music platform for musicians to meet collaborate and grow their music network.” Taking the success factors behind dating apps and applying them to the music world, JamForest allows a musician to enter the instrument, genre, age, gender and distance of the musician they are searching for, and the JamForest algorithm returns the relevant matches. Users can also link their SoundCloud tracks and YouTube videos to their profiles and message other musicians within the app. JamForest is truly a platform to empower musicians and their network, similar to what LinkedIn has done for the résumés.
Speaking of how the idea for JamForest was born, Grace explains,
“While gigging, our drummer decided to call time on his music career and so we were down a drummer. With several gigs lined up, and studio time booked for an album, this was a bit of a problem and we needed a great drummer fast! It took us 6 months to find a drummer after countless auditions and unnecessary expense. The hardest part was finding a drummer to audition, it was a laborious task of posting fliers across Dublin city in music venues and practice halls, posting adverts on Facebook Forums and online. In the end, we found a drummer through a friend of a friend at a gig in Dublin. As there weren’t any musician support systems that worked at the time, it was a creatively and physically draining task and this is where the idea for JamForest came from.
JamForest’s unique technology creates the perfect solution to connect the unconnected world of musicians. Our competitors only allow users to search for one feature at a time be it musicians nearby or a certain instrument. JamForest covers all aspects a musician considers when looking for someone to collaborate with such as instrument, genre, gender, age and distance. Tooher says, “We are not just creating a platform connecting musicians, we plan on becoming a definitive brand for music and musicians. We are creating a tribe of ‘JamForesters’ and revolutionising how musicians meet, collaborate and grow their music network. JamForest will be a complete renaissance for all musicians from all backgrounds.”
In an initial bid to build a tribe and promote original music, JamForest will host a special music event on March 11th in The Triskel Arts Centre (details here: https://uticket.ie/event/jamforesttriskel )
Speaking of her experience on the New Frontiers Programme, Grace says, “I was joking recently with Liam Fitzgerald the programme manager that since starting New Frontiers, I have developed a serious business brain. I was very green on the business side of things before starting New Frontiers as my experience was more the coding and marketing side of things and how to get this in front of musicians whereas now I have an investor ready pack and business strategies in place as well as a fully developed plan. The support system here at the Rubicon Centre is brilliant. We’re working in a fast startup environment, and aside from the mentor support, the peer to peer learning is key. We all work in an office space together and can bounce different strengths and ideas off of each other. We are also in the building with 50 other businesses who were in the same boat as us a few years ago and are extremely helpful with any advice we might need.
Best advice ever received?
Work hard, play hard! No, honestly, the best advice has probably been from my cousin and business mentor who always says that you need to have a good work life balance or you’ll burn out too fast.
Advice to young entrepreneurs?
Confidence, within reason obviously! Be yourself and again, work life balance! I also think follow your passion if you love what you do then the work life balance owns itself. There are often evenings when I work late in to the night which can be tiring but it is also one of the most rewarding things because I love every minute of my job and the time I spend doing it.
What advice you would give yourself if starting all over again?
Confidence is key, I can be a very self-conscious person, a typical introvert, I come across as an extrovert but in reality I am a bag of anxiety! However, since securing my place on New Frontiers and being awarded the Competitive Start Fund investment from Enterprise Ireland I am learning to quit the negativity and to have confidence in my business and abilities. So I guess my advice to myself is Positive Mental Attitude, it works, and if I come out of a pitch and feel like I’ve given it my all then that’s all I can do and if I am unsuccessful then who cares, I couldn’t have done anymore!