Justin Whitman wants West Virginia to be a hub for the technology industry, beginning with his own high-tech startup, UMuseUs.
"When I moved to Berkeley County from northern Virginia in 2008, there weren't many tech or business ventures in West Virginia, so I had to create my own opportunities," Whitman said. "So I did corporate consulting for Fortune 100 and 500 companies. Then I decided that putting my best foot forward in West Virginia would be to start a tech venture here."
UMuseUs is a multifaceted, interactive social platform that is centered around music of all genres. The website, UMuseUs.com, uses proprietary software to "provide platforms, venues and resources that empower musicians and music lovers to share, discover, interact, create and more."
"UMu se U s allows you to say, 'I'm a guitar player. Th is is what I look like. H ere's an audio or video clip of what I sound like, or here is some of my original work'. Bands are able to find someone to play with them who is qualified, ju st like a recruiter does when they're trying to fill a job," Whitman explained. "It also allows music lovers to discov er new artists and become a musician's first fan. And it allo ws musicians of all ages to showcase their skillset from home and have an avenue for others to hear their music and give them feedback," he said.
UMuseUs.com will also house educatio nal videos uploaded by music teachers or experienced artists for those interested in learning a new instrument. Through this component, Whitman hopes to create partnerships with public schools in the Mountain State to increase exposure to a variety of inst ruments and supplement music education.
UMuseUs.com will also have a compe tition component that allows members to create a virtual "fantasy band" by compiling their favorite m usicians on the site. They can then share their creation on UMuseUs.com and other social sites, prompting their friends to vote for their band or make their own match-ups.
Whitman's partnership with WVU began with the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Law Clinic (EILC) in 2016.
"The EILC worked with UMuseUs to draft nondisclosure agreements, privacy agreements and terms of service," said EILC director Priya Baskaran."We help with the initial stages in a startup process so that a company has a firm foundation set to grow from."
The Clinic also m ade sure Whitman complied with certain guidelines that co me with running an interactive website involving minors.
"This relationship with WVU has been amazing beca use I know that the University, the College of Law and the EILC care about the state as much as I do. Their passion and their success means it will be easier for me to succeed," sa id Whitman. "Having the ability to work with the EILC gives me peace of mind financ ially because their help is pro bono, and ultimately the Clinic allowed me to feel confident that I'm protected legally and that we are launching our site properly. Th ey really tailored their recommendations to our needs."
Whitman's work won't stop at UMuseUs. He plans to develop a tech business incubator for new startups, p roviding an umbrella of suppo rt for entrepreneurs wanting to grow roots in West Virginia.
"I want to show West Virginia residents that, when we unite behind an idea, amazing things can happen. We can produce opportunities for the state to realize its potential and expand its internet and technical capabilities," he said . "I hope UMuseUs becomes our stepping stone for creating more long-term tech projects that will benefit the community and the state."