Three students create app for music listeners

Taylor Wathen (left) and Blake Knott (right) are two of the Three WKU students who are working on an app and website that uses algorithms to recommend music based on songs and artists the user likes. Last week the team won $10,000 at the Alltech Innovation Competition in Lexington. They plan on releasing the app and website at the end of the year.

Kacie Brockman

When Pandora listeners tell the app they want to listen to rock music, they may get anything from Nickelback to Elvis Presley’s Christmas album. Three WKU students weren’t satisfied with this and decided to come up with a solution to provide music listeners with personalized recommendations.

Taylor Wathen, Zachary Wathen and Blake Knott created Tech Gnar, an app expected to launch by the end of the year.

The idea is for the app to be a technological force in the music industry that analytically breaks down music into numbers to provide personalized music recommendations. It is not an app for music streaming but will provide users with recommendations based on their preferences. Consumers can also watch linked music videos for song selections.

“The music technology that’s out there right now — we weren’t really happy with our suggestions,” Taylor Wathen said.

The company began the app’s production in August 2016, including planning for both a Tech Gnar app and website. The idea started as an algorithm of only 12 measurements and has grown to be composed of 771.

The three student founders built the app around their shared love for music. Taylor Wathen and Knott both have experience playing instruments, including drums and the piano.

Taylor Wathen and Knott are in a relationship, and Taylor Wathen and Zachary Wathen are brother and sister, which they say has aided the group to thrive in their business. All three come from a business family background that led them to pursue entrepreneurship.

“People say don’t start a business with your family, but we haven’t any problems with it,” Taylor Wathen said.

The app will have four separate tabs including a discover, poster, profile and collections section, to personalize and search for music. Users will be able to interact with their friends through the app and view their music selections.

“So if you want to hear a song with a saxophone in it, Tech Gnar can find it for you,” Taylor Wathen said. “You can even get more specific. If you want to hear a song that’s 50 percent pop and 50 percent rock and a saxophone in it.”

The Tech Gnar team took second place in WKU’s 2016 Topper Tank, an elevator pitch entrepreneur competition. In the fall of 2016, they began the first round of the WKU Business Plan Competition where they proceeded to the finals in the spring. The competition consisted of a 15-minute presentation of a 15-page business plan, with a 10-minute Q&A session from the judges. The group took home $3,000 as a prize.

“They didn’t call us the winner, but our team did take home the most money,” Taylor Wathen said.

The group recently participated in the Alltech Innovation competition, where they earned $10,000 for the undergraduate portion.

The future of Tech Gnar will be stationed in Bowling Green. The three plan to “rush the market” to make their name well known in the industry and anticipate to set up a booth on WKU’s campus to promote their company with merchandise.

 Reporter Kacie Brockman can be reached at (270) 745-0655 and [email protected].