Wild cards

Get to know the Murfie team, round 1

A product or service is only as cool as the people behind it.  What makes Murfie go?  Good ideas and hard work – both generated by (surprise, surprise!) people.  So who makes Murfie go?  A team of smart, lively, Midwestern (yes, they can all coexist) entrepreneurs and techies who happen to like music and the possibilities of combining community and digital media.

Now, let’s take out Murfie’s deck of cards (metaphor alert! cards=people) and learn a little bit more about who really helps make Murfie tick (i.e. Murfie’s executive team players):

Role at Murfie: The guy with the crazy ideas who’s crazy enough to chase after them and somehow convince really smart people to help out.
15-words-or-less professional bio: Serial entrepreneur, electrical engineer, software developer, beer tap inventor, patent holder, and startup community supporter.
Current location/hiding place of CD collection: Murfie, of course!
Favorite album(s): Sympathique by Pink Martini; Mozart Concertos 23 & 27 with Brendel on Piano; Black and White by The Bodeans.
Vinyl, disc, or digital: LOSSLESS digital.
What makes Madison great? We’re the city of friendly creatives. We work hard, play hard, and have the IQ without the attitude.
Complete the sentence: Murfie is…not just another online music experience. If you truly want to OWN your music, Murfie is the only way to go.

Role at Murfie: The world may never know. However, it seems to have something to do with figuring things out. Then tidying up the kitchen. Then figuring them out again. Then building a chair. Then figuring them out again. Then ordering some keys. Then figuring them out again. Then eating a…
15-words-or-less professional bio: Preston is one cool guy. He’s also some sort of Internet and social systems guru. (is the conjunction cheating?)
Current location/hiding place of CD collection: In the extremely dusty shoebox that originally held a very nice pair of men’s dress shoes that are still with us, on the shelf next to the box (from New Balance running shoes, lost to history) of toys I keep for cats and children to play with.
Favorite album(s): Play by Moby; Stop Making Sense by Talking Heads; No Angel by Dido; Falling Further In by October Project; Broken by Nine Inch Nails; Run Lola Run soundtrack by Tykwer; Johnny Klimek; Reinhold Heil.
Vinyl, disc, or digital: Live.
What makes Madison great? I do. You can too. There’s room for more than just us.
Complete the sentence: Murfie is…seriously kicking my ass right now, but I think I’ll get the upper hand soon and wrestle it to the ground. It’s also loads of fun to work on a music site. Music is awesome. I mean, really, what’s not to love about trading cool music???

Man of mystery/actual wild card…for now…

Sayonara, plastic CD packaging!

Bidding a proper farewell to jewel cases

Here at Murfie HQ, we try to do the right, and cool, thing.  In the Murfieland context, that means providing an awesome service for buying, selling, and trading music, AND recycling plastic CD packaging.  Murfie isn’t into this whole plastics recycling thing because we are all (light/dark/bright) green-eyed, bleeding-heart liberal monsters…we recycle because it’s the right thing to do for your music experience as well as U.S. municipal solid waste (MSW) management.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, over half of MSW (54.3%) is discarded into landfills, and 11.9% is burned at combustion facilities.  No matter the shade of your environmental eyes, that’s pretty icky for our planet.  What sort of trash are we disposing in landfills or burning?…well, along with paper, metals, yard trimmings, and glass (etc.), plastics make up 12.3% of total municipal solid waste generation.

And guess what?  Only 7 percent of that plastic waste is recovered for recycling.

A 7% recycling rate is pretty darn low.  Too low, actually.  The only right thing to do is up that rate.  That’s why Murfie makes it our business to always separate out and recycle the plastics that comprise CD packaging.  This ends up being a pretty big job, as we accumulate tons and tons of boxes chock full of jewel cases.  But because Murfie can make anything awesome, we had a bit of fun and put together a time-lapse video depicting what an epic chore unloading plastic CD stuff can be.  Check it out!

P.S. If you want to know more about that whole plastics recycling thing (and much, much more!), the EPA has put out a great facts and figures report on MSW generation, recycling, and disposal.

Staff Picks: Underground Hip Hop

This week we like…Underground Hip Hop

Introducing a new weekly (let’s hope!) section. While working in the Murfie ingest room, we sometimes come across CDs our customers have sent in that we know and love – and think you should know too.  So we’ve decided to begin posting some of our favorites, to help get the word out about what we’re up to here and to give those of you who already know first crack at some of the best music to come through the Murfie vault.  This week has brought in a lot of excellent underground hip hop, and I’ve chosen four of my personal favorites.

The Gravediggaz: “Six Feet Deep”

Gravediggaz Six Feet DeepAfter the huge success of Wu-Tang Clan’s debut, “Enter the 36 Chambers,” producer/MC RZA teamed up with Prince Paul and brought us Gravediggaz, a grimy, goofy album of horror-movie themed hip hop.

Sway & King Tech Present: “The Wake-Up Show Freestyles Vol. 7”

Wake Up Show FreestylesThe Wake-Up Show is a nationally syndicated hip hop radio show hosted by Sway & King Tech, perhaps best known for being the vehicle which brought a young Eminem to the attention of Dr. Dre.  This volume of Wake-Up Show Freestyles includes drops from Common, Raekwon, Dead Prez, and Chicago freestyle phenomenon Juice.

Okayplayer: “Truenotes Vol. 1”

OkayPlayerRoots drummer Amir “Questlove” Thompson founded Okayplayer in 1987 as an informal musical community, and it has since evolved into a tastemaking online platform for some of the best underground hip-hop artists both here and internationally.  This Okayplayer sponsored mixtape includes exclusive tracks from Little Brother, The Roots, Jean Grae, Rjd2, and Blackalicious, many of which are not available elsewhere.

Various Artists: “High School High Soundtrack”

High School HighThis may seem like a strange choice, but the soundtrack to this 1996 Jon Lovitz vehicle is full of standout tracks from the Wu-Tang Clan, Scarface, Grand Puba, and Lil’ Kim.  My personal favorite, however, is a bizarrely awesome R&B cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” by a little-known group called The Braids.

Murfie’s origin story

Why Murfie is Murfie

Q: What’s up with your name?!  Does Murfie mean anything?
That’s a good question.  And the answer is actually quite relevant to our business model and vision.  Murfie comes from the acronym MRF, which stands for materials recycling facility and is pronounced “murf” – so it wasn’t rocket science to add those last two letters to MRF and make it sound awesome.

Now, what’s so significant about a materials recycling facility?  And is Murfie anything like a MRF?  Well, you can in fact think of Murfie as a specialized plant that receives, separates, and processes recyclable materials, which in our case is your collection of discs.  Like a MRF, Murfie does indeed receive materials (CDs!) that can be sorted and prepared for end-users (murfie.com customers!).  Our treatment goes a bit like this:
1) We capture the value of physical CDs by taking your discs and turning them into digital music upon request,
2) while shedding the unwanted plastic packaging (and of course, recycling those materials)
3) and then we create and deliver value by providing an online selling, trading, and buying community that is both fun and hassle-free.

As you can see, Murfie’s mission is to contribute to the dematerialization movement – reduce the total material that’s required to serve a function.  So is less more?  Well, by freeing your home of physical clutter and turning those CDs into digital media, as well as recycling all other unnecessary materials, murfie.com certainly does more with less.

Taking out our art supplies

Why should you go Murfie?

Every successful startup has a great answer to the big WHY question.  Why is your company launching?  Why is your product or service cool?  Why is it desirable or useful or better than the rest in your market?

Murfie has a pretty solid but simple answer to this.  Fact is, murfie.com is awesome.  That’s what our website header says, and that’s how our team feels about our new way to buy, sell, and trade music.  Now that may seem slightly presumptuous of us to claim (although give us some credit – a disclaimer is included admitting lack of scientific proof), but allow me to elaborate.  If I may, I’d like to present some evidence to back up our assertion of awesomeness.   A rigorous scientific study is still pending, but sometimes a framework that is a bit more, shall we say, elementary gets the point across more effectively and proves your point quicker too.

I’m going to go a little old-school here.  Remember when in grade school your teacher assigned you the feel-good project of spelling out your name vertically with complimentary or self-congratulatory (depending on how modest you felt that day) descriptors for each letter?  If you missed out on the (intended to be) exploratory and enlightening exercise, no problem!  I took the liberty of devising one for Murfie, in order to corroborate our claim of awesomeness.  So without further ado, here is our version.

MORE.  Murfie is a more convenient and accessible way to buy, sell, and trade more music, which makes finding or sharing used music more fun.
SERS.  Murfie is user friendly, and we do our best to make our buying, selling, and trading service easy to use for everyone.
ESPECTFUL.  Murfie respects the rights of artists and creators, and we respect your property too.  Give Murfie a try, but if you don’t love selling or trading on Murfie, we’ll ship your discs back to you at no cost.
FRIENDLY.  Murfie is a team of friendly people working to make your experience user-friendly and our business environmentally friendly.  Murfie limits waste by recycling plastic CD packaging: free up space in your home and prevent improper recycling of sleeves and jewel cases by letting Murfie turn your CDs into digital music!
NDIVIDUAL.  Murfie is what YOU make it.  Go Murfie and make the experience your own by searching, trading, buying, OR selling old music.
ASY.  Check out this video to see how easy it is to get your CDs onto our site and sell them for cash or have fun trading.

Bottom line, Murfie is an online selling, trading, and buying community for music lovers.  Check out murfie.com to see if you agree with my grade-school project…perhaps a few reasons are left to be discovered.

Disc Drive for Charity at Madison Holiday Happy Hour

Got Discs? Sell & trade them on Murfie and help Goodman Community Center!

Box of compact discsIf you have music on compact discs you don’t play anymore Murfie will donate $1 to the center for every 10 music CDs you bring to the event for us to list on murfie.com. We’re donating to charity on your behalf, but your discs still belong to you, we just load them into a new murfie.com account for you to sell and trade for cash and new music. We offer a variety of delivery formats for new music you buy or trade for on Murfie.

We’ll collect an email address along with your discs and contact you after we list them. Murfie is currently in private beta so we’ll send you an invite after the event – but you can watch this video or read more about how murfie.com works today. Key point is that it is risk free, if you don’t love selling or trading on Murfie, we’ll ship your discs back to you on request free of charge.

Murfie Disc Drive DropoffSo turn music collecting dust into cash & music you love while helping the Goodman Center. Bring that box or caselogic folder full of discs from the attic, closet, or shelf where they’re hiding and come enjoy a drink at imby.info‘s Holiday Happy Hour fundraiser. It’s on Wednesday, Dec 15, between 5 and 7:30*

Update: you can also drop discs off earlier that day at our offices in downtown Madison: 1 South Pinckney St, Suite 818 in the US Bank building

Intern as a developer for Murfie

(if you are awesome :)

We’re looking for a highly talented software development intern to fill an immediate opening for a half-time paid position with our development team. We’re a locally owned and operated startup in Madison, WI launching an online venture: Murfie.com. It’s built around a novel way to buy, sell, and trade music and used CDs. We’re approaching launch of our beta and would like to add an up and coming developer of entrepreneurial bent who’s looking for a great experience: contributing to a small technology startup through its launch and initial growth.

You would work directly with our lead developer as part of the team operating out of our offices on the Capitol square in Madison, as well as performing coordinated work with our local development company Bendyworks and designers Swink as well as other partners as required.

Murfie is a results oriented environment with high expectations; this will be a very challenging position in the kind of job where failure is a very real possibility and where success offers excellent opportunities for professional growth and portfolio building work. There is tangible upside as well, we’ll pay you a good bit more over time if you’re blowing our minds. Your commitment is simple: contribute materially to making our product more awesome. Our commitment will be to offer awesome professional opportunities and a great local work environment.

You are: Smarter than the other kids or willing to work twice as hard. Either early in your professional arc as a software developer or still a student. Totally fearless about programming, new technology, and new frameworks. Happy arguing about user experience and happy to win the argument by building an example of your side of it overnight. Planning to be in Madison for a year if you take the position. Not more than 1-2 years from expected graduation if still a student. Available for most of 20 hours a week for the next year, where you will be developing solo and pairing with others at our office. Not planning to go find yourself on a mountaintop any time soon. Strong programming and web development skills are a must.

We are: Matt Younkle and Preston Austin are the founders – local entrepreneurs with a lot of history behind us and a diverse set of connections to fund and execute this project. We’re moving fast because that’s what startups do. Development is currently managed by Philip Crawford as tech lead, also a local and experienced entrepreneur.

Details: Working in Rails, so you have to be interested in doing that, but we don’t care if you’ve ever even seen it so long as you have the chops. Development is currently coordinated using Pivotal Tracker and Basecamp. Code management is Github. We’re deploying initially on Heroku using S3 storage and Postgres DB. Our site will do extensive ecommerce with internal accounting and microtransactions via our merchant services provider Braintree. On the back-end, Murfie will operate via a novel proprietary inventory management system that you don’t get to know about until after you learn the secret handshake. You’ll work on your own laptop, or one we provide for your use.

Interested? Contact Preston Austin at preston.h.austin@gmail.com with something showing how you develop, write, and why you really want the job along with any questions about stuff I missed here.