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Harvard Innovation Lab Startup Heartstring Seeks Florida Musicians

on October 25, 2016 / by Daniel Lofaso ,

Read Time 5 Minutes

heartstringI recently was lucky enough to interview a really awesome startup out of the Harvard Innovation Lab called Heartstring. These guys contacted me out of the blue to beta test their new app, and although we normally feature startups that are from the Palm Beach area, I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to feature them on Palm Beach Tech.

Heartstring allows you to easily add original soundtracks to your social media videos, making them a very timely product. Given their unique backing by the very prestigious Harvard Innovation Lab, I wanted to ask them about this relationship, their technology, and of course, how they came to create such a unique app.

Below I interview two of Heartstring’s four founders, Pete Mathias and Casey Gibson, to get some insight into their creative product.

Daniel Lofaso: Please tell me a little bit about Heartstring.

Pete and Casey: We are a team of entrepreneurial musicians, designers, and technology builders pushing a new frontier in music, media, and artificial intelligence. We are ourselves musicians who believe that music has exciting possibilities in the new medium of storytelling: digital video.

Today, we tell stories differently than the earliest cultures. Oral tradition is conveyed not by word of mouth, but by the click of a button. We press record, we snap a shot of our happenings, and post it to the choice communicative platform of our times: Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, YouTube. We are building Heartstring for modern storytelling.

How did you come up with the idea? 

We come from the music world. We are touring musicians (our co-founders are the band Filligar). We have seen firsthand the exciting opportunities that technology has unlocked for musicians. The idea for Heartstring emerged from our own experiences writing music for picture. All the time, we would get requests from filmmakers wanting music for their films. Heartstring is part of that.

Who is on your team?

4 co-founders

Pete Mathias

Pete Mathias is an MBA/MPA from Dartmouth’s Tuck and Harvard’s Kennedy School, where he is a participant in the Harvard Innovation Lab’s Venture Incubation Program. Pete has been selected by mass media company Bertelsmann as a “creative shaping the future of media.”

Casey Gibson

Casey Gibson is a resident composer and producer for a Los Angeles based production house that makes music for brands. Casey was a cover feature in the LA Times Business Section for his innovative work writing music for commercial television.

Teddy Mathias

Teddy Mathias is an MFA graduate student at the Yale University School of Design, where he is studying Graphic Design.

Johnny Mathias

Johnny Mathias is a technology, media, and telecom investment banker in San Francisco and a graduate of Tuck School of Business.  Johnny has more than a decade of experience in the music industry—as guitarist and vocalist with the band Filligar and as a business development strategist for the label he co-founded, Decade Records.

How did you come up with the name?

Heartstring evokes everything we’re about: music and its ability to elevate.

How did you get involved with the Harvard Innovation Lab?

We were selected by the team at the i-Lab as a promising team on campus. We are really excited to be a part of an exciting collective.

You mentioned the i-lab helped with a lot of process-oriented stuff and mentoring. Anything specific that they did with you that helped with your launch of the project?

They have an incredible team and great resources to help with everything from strategy to legal to creative and other things a startup encounters.

How was/is the DALI Innovation Lab at Dartmouth part of your project?

DALI is an awesome collective out of Dartmouth. Their mission is “to design and build technology tools to help our partners change behavior, enhance understanding and even create delight. DALI uses mindful design to create solutions to a wide variety of problems.” They are currently exploring new frontiers for Heartstring– we are thrilled to have them part of the project.

You said it took about a year to get the product to beta. That’s pretty fast for a tech startup. How did you manage to put things in place so quickly?

We have been a band together for a long time. When you work closely with people for that long, particularly in a creative area, you move quick.

You said not much pivoting was done in terms of the original concept but you stick to Minimal Viable Product (MVP) principles when adding features. Can you give some recent examples of this?

We want Heartstring to create joy. Part of joy is simplicity. On our latest build, we eliminated features. That is a little unusual– most times you see startups adding features. But we want to create an exciting product.

Currently, Casey produces and composes most of the music. How does he come up with the ideas for this?

There is no formula for songwriting. Each new day and each new opportunity calls for a different creative set.

The app ties music with emotion. How does this work?

One area we have been trailblazing is in assigning music related to your picture or video. In support of this, we are deploying new frontier technology in image recognition and cloud vision.

You said the short-term goals for Heartstring involve getting musicians as passionate about your project as you are. What are your trying to do to get them excited?

Music has always been deeply attached to things like place, time, mood. We are connecting musicians to people in permutations of those parameters. We are excited by that and think other artists will be, too.

What are the long-term goals?

We want to build an exciting product that elevates today’s musicians.

Most music industry revenue comes from LA and NYC, do you think new technology will change that? If so, how?

Yes. Music has already fragmented distribution. There are many different ways to get your music out there. That means musicians will not have to migrate to conventional “music towns”–except for live touring.

Heartstring currently curates most of the music for the app but will be looking to get a lot more musicians involved on their own volition. What does this portion of the company look like?

We are artists curating a collective of like-minded musicians committed to their crafts. Any artists with the volition, who share that commitment to the arts, are welcome to get in touch about joining. Just email

What’s it like for them to create music for 15-second spots? How’s it different from creating normal songs?

Music for short form can be an exciting creative exercise.  Hemingway famously wrote a powerful story in just six words. We believe that music can be written for short form, too. But Heartstring musicians do not have to write new music just for Heartstring– we just look for great musicians.

How can Florida-based musicians get involved in producing music for Heartstring?

Just fill out this form and we will be in touch!

What kinds of music genres are you looking for more of?

We welcome any artist of any genre committed to their craft.


Harvard Innovation Lab Startup Heartstring Seeks Florida Musicians