I'm doing a thing. WE'RE doing a thing--I'm not doing the thing alone! The thing started as a little idea, but has turned into something of an obsession (anyone who knows me is not at all surprised by this!) Largely in response to a computer programming course I took during 2020, and as a way to motivate my students with their theory homework, I got the inspiration to create a digital learning platform for music theory and note reading. I've spent the last 10 months brainstorming, doing market research, interviewing, designing, reiterating, and mostly learning, learning, learning. At long last, things are starting to turn from phantom ideas into what will soon become a real app. I have an absolutely fantastic team helping me--I've been working with Jamie Quishenberry on the programming side since March or April. I'm so happy that my brother, Paul Billock, is building our database because he absolutely rocks. And the newest development that I'm over the moon about is that CMU has offered the one and only Jonathan Aldrich a one-semester supported leave so that he can work full time on the project! And we are currently working on adding another co-founder who will manage the marketing side of things. I feel like the luckiest person alive to have this rock-star team of experts helping me with this idea. I've been sharing the prototype with musicians, teachers, parents, and students, and have been getting overwhelmingly enthusiastic responses.
It has been, and continues to be, a total whirlwind. If you had told me a few years ago that very soon I would be leading a tech startup I probably would have fallen over laughing at the idea. I still mostly can't believe it. Some days I'm riding high and other days it feels like an absolute slog. Most days are a mix of utter excitement and complete exhaustion.
Which brings us to the mountaintop photo that I included in this post. I keep this picture on my desk at all times. It's a 2002 picture of me at the top of Mt. Adams (elev. 12,280). Mt. Adams is not a technical mountain--you don't need ropes or fancy gear (besides an ice axe) to climb it. It's mostly just a REALLY long and VERY steep hike in which you simply have to keep your head down and put one foot in front of the other, over and over again, for what seems like an endless eternity. You can't see the top of the mountain for most of the traverse--or more accurately, you often *think* you can see the top of the mountain, but when you reach that spot, it's not the top. So you can't really think about the top of the mountain. You just have to think about that one next step. Can I take one more step? Yep, I can do that! Can I take one more step? I think so. And on and on. And if you keep taking that one next step, then eventually--well, eventually this picture was taken from the top of the mountain! My Mt. Adams photo is a constant reminder to keep taking the next step, even if I can't see the top. I was realizing this past week that when I did this climb I was with both Paul and Jonathan, who are now an integral part of the team on this new entrepreneurial endeavor. I couldn't ask for better companions--people who also know the value of just taking the next step. I'm grateful for this every day.
If you are at all curious about the Noteful project, please reach out! There are lots of ways to get involved if you're interested, the most basic being to follow the Noteful pages on social media. You can also explore here on our website and meet Ed (our trusty Noteful mascot), get a demo of the prototype (send us an email), sign up to be an early beta tester, and tell your friends. We may even be looking for angel investors sooner rather than later. Either way, see ya up on the mountain somewhere. The top is not visible from here, but I have a feeling the view is going to be pretty incredible up there!