Today’s featured Startup of the Day is is Mixed In Key LLC, a young startup created by Yakov Vorobyev, a former video games developer who “learned to ride a bike at the same time he I started to learn Pascal programming.”


Mixed in Key develops software for the DJ community, and has customers across the globe. What they have achieve so far is extremely impressive. The company is self funded and is hiring developers.

Interview with Yakov Vorobyev, founder of Mixed In Key LLC

Who are you?

Mixed In Key LLC creates software used by the world’s best DJs. We enable mash-up creation and seamless DJ mixing. Our software detects the musical key and tempo of every song that it scans, and shows which songs will mix great together

How do you feel being the most promising “Company of the Day” per Microsoft?

We love Microsoft technologies, and it’s an honor to be named one of the most promising companies. Our “Mixed In Key” Windows software uses .NET Framework 2.0 and massive SQL databases to analyze millions of music files. Without .NET, Mixed In Key would not exist.

What did you do before creating your company?

When I was younger, I worked for Bethesda Softworks, the creator of Fallout 3 and Oblivion computer games. I also worked for a small computer shop and a law firm in Washington, D.C. My inspiration for Mixed In Key came from my love of DJing – I DJed at many nightclubs in this area.

How did you get the idea?

Detecting musical keys with a piano takes forever. I wanted to batch-process my digital files with one click of a button. Mixed In Key was born as a “single button” application, and eventually grew into a “three button” application that it is today.

What do you sell? What is your company's mission?

Right now, we sell two products: A very easy-to-use key detection tool called “Mixed In Key”, and an audio mastering tool called “Platinum Notes.” They go hand in hand – Mixed In Key helps DJs mix seamlessly, and Platinum Notes improves music files to make them sound better. Platinum Notes normalizes each file’s volume, corrects pitch, and removes distortion. DJs who use both products hear a huge improvement in their DJ mixes.

What is your market?

Our software is designed for Top 20 DJs. We make it work for them, and as a result, Mixed In Key works great for the entire DJ community. Most of our DJs play House, Trance, and Techno, but we have a large number of Hip Hop and Top 40 fans as well.

Any clients, references, partners you want to quote ?

Some of my favorite quotes:

Pete Tong from BBC Radio 1 writes, “Mixed In Key has proved to be a valuable and creative tool in both radio and club programming, I'm hooked.”

David Guetta writes, “I have been using harmonic mixing for many years, but I had to find keys with a keyboard. Mixed In Key is as good, in less time. Magic!”

We enjoy a high customer satisfaction. When asked, “Would you recommend Mixed In Key to your DJ friends?”, 97.1% of our customers said, "YES" in a recent survey.


Funding history? VCs? BA?

I invested less than $1000 to start Mixed In Key in 2006. We grew organically with no outside funding. We’ve been profitable from our first week in business. We have been approached with acquisition offers, but we remained independent and took no outside funding.


Growth? Internalization?

Mixed In Key is used globally. Only 30% of our customers live in the United States. We sell digital downloads only, so it makes it easy for us to work with global customers.


How many employees do you have? How many developers?

We have three people working on Windows projects, one Mac OS X developer, one business person and a team of musicians and close friends who advise us. Total team size is about 12 people.


Are you hiring? If yes, what? Where?

We are always looking for part-time/remote .NET developers to help our team. We seek the following qualities: 1) Ability to write Windows Forms and ASP.NET code equally well, 2) Ability to design simple, elegant user interfaces, and 3) Ability to optimize SQL for large datasets. If you are interested in working with us, please email contact@mixedinkey.com


Which platform are you building on? Why?

.NET Framework is the secret to Mixed In Key’s success. .NET enabled us to create a simple, easily-deployable application that analyzes thousands of music files. We grew quickly as a result. We strongly recommend C# + .NET to all developers.

To give you an idea of scale, Mixed In Key has analyzed over 30 million music files in the last 12 months. We wouldn’t be able to do this without our Microsoft technologies.


Do you have any IP? Is there something that you’re the only one to do on the market?

Yes, I have filed a patent for Mixed In Key’s technology. It was a very rewarding experience. Creating your own intellectual property is a great reason to start your own company – you will be able to invent and develop your own ideas. It is amazing how much freedom you get when you manage a small business.

Who’s your role model?

My dad. He’s been working with computers since 1960s, and he’s taught me to solve problems by looking at them from different angles. He shared his knowledge with me at a young age. I learned to ride my bike at the same time as I started to learn Pascal programming. My dad inspired me to study computer science and to be a curious person in general. I still love to learn new things.


Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/Internet areas?

Think about websites like YouSendIt.com, which made sending large files easier. They tackled a complex problem for customers, and made it super-easy. I see this as the biggest opportunity today. Solve a complex problem, and make it simple. If you see something that takes a lot of effort, find an easier way, and develop that into a product. You might be onto something big.


Looking for funding? If yes, how much?

We’ve been self-funded since day one, and we want to stay that way. However, if there is a VC who wants to talk about future projects, please introduce yourself. There are always new ideas that I am working on.


What about the BizSpark Program? What do you think? Are you going to join? Why?

In difficult economic times, Microsoft makes it possible for start-ups to succeed. The BizSpark program is a brilliant way to save money for entrepreneurs like us. We joined BizSpark as soon as we read about it, and we are loving SQL Server 2008 right now. Thank you for making it possible to use your latest-generation software.


Any advice to young software entrepreneurs?

Start small, but think big. The point isn't to build a big company; it's to build a great company/product. I think you're seeing a lot of layoffs now from start-ups who lost sight of that and grew for growths sake.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Thank you for creating the BizSpark program. It's a wonderful idea and it supports innovation.