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Medly helps 750,000 users make epic music, wins Best App of 2016

Music is central to our lives, but making music is not easy for everyone. Enter Medly, an iOS app that lets you make music by drawing notes on a grid to create rhythms and melodies. With access to 112 instruments, from synthesizers to classical violin, Medly is a simple but powerful tool for everyone from experienced musicians to enthusiasts, to create music.

A lot has changed in the past five years for the Co-founders of Medly. In 2012, Basil Al-Dajane and Jayson Rhynas were working on Medly (then called SoundBrush), and hadn’t yet entered the Velocity Garage. Now in 2016, several years after Medly launched from the Garage, they have hit a major milestone, reaching 750,000 downloads of their music making app. And people are loving it. The app has a 4.5 star rating with over two thousand ratings globally, and was recently selected Best App of 2016 in Japan and South Korea, as well as runner-up for best app in China, in addition to other accolades.

We sat down with Co-founder Basil to talk about Medly, and the ups and downs associated with building a startup that began in 2011, when Basil and Jayson were frustrated by existing music making apps.

“There wasn’t a tool that let you author what you had in your mind,” Basil explained. “It was always instrument based, or you had to record a sample with an instrument and use pre-built library loops.”

The two Co-founders saw a problem, which is that there is a huge knowledge gap in music making – people want to express themselves musically, without having to play an instrument with a lot of technique. So they began to develop what would eventually become Medly, moving into the Velocity Garage in December 2012 to build the app. During their time at Velocity, Basil says the biggest benefit was the community support. Starting a business can be stressful, and having a support system that understands your struggles can be instrumental in persevering through the early stages of a startup.

“When you’re running a startup, it’s super high-stress. You might be maxing out your credit cards, you might need to buy something new which you can’t afford, and you may have rent to pay the following month. And your product isn’t working, and everyone is telling you to quit and get a job. Startup communities give you close friends and mentors that help you get past those stressful times.”

Over time, the team learned how to refine their product development cycle, and work better as a team. Basil reflected that the length of development and iteration cycles can have a huge impact on the success of a company. In the early stages of Medly, they were focused on creating large, high impact updates for the app that could take months, or even years to complete. Now, they’ve managed to strike a balance between long, and short iteration cycles to keep their app fresh and up to date.

So, what advice does Basil have for aspiring app-builders?

“Don’t worry about any other startup but your own. Sometimes it’s good to get together with a group and see how other people are doing, but you shouldn’t get discouraged, and you should never need an ego boost. Just make sure your product works.”

Want to unleash your inner Medly? Check it out in the App store.