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Pirates Pitch Contest Winner Credits Role Model Steve Jobs

Monday, May 20, 2013

by: Wendy Ekua Quansah

Joyce Strawser, Zaid Abdelhady, Martin Hendela, Muhammad Abdelhady, Carl Banks Jr. Jason Yin, (Chair of the Management Department) , Susan Scherreik
Pirates Pitch Winners

Similar to his role model Apple Founder Steve Jobs, Carl Banks Jr. knows all too well that “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Perhaps this ancient proverb best describes his recent feat, winning the six-thousand dollar first place award for his online music start-up Audiotecha at the 3rd Annual Pirates Pitch Contest.The senior studying graphic design pitched for the second time an idea for an all genres music search and discovery site geared towards avid music listeners.

“Although I didn’t place last year, participating in the contest definitely helped my chances this year,” said Carl. “I was a lot more experienced.”

Susan Scherreik, director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies in the Stillman School of Business, encouraged Carl to re-enter.

“When Carl did not win Pirates Pitch last year, he did not give up and it paid off,” she said. “One of the key qualities that successful entrepreneurs share is perseverance and Carl has that quality.”

So, what was different this time around? Carl said he took into consideration the overall premise of operating a business. This included learning the importance of projective revenue, protecting intellectual property, and outlining employment logistics – to name a few.

“Judges want to see that you’ve done your homework,” he explained. “In addition to building a great product, there has to be a market that shows promise, from both a financial and consumer perspective.”

Advice on basic business know-hows that accompany real-life experiences were passed down to him from his father, former Giants quarterback Carl Banks Sr. While Banks who currently operates his very own sports apparel line was instrumental, Carl Jr.’s passion for technology began long ago.

“When I was 14 years old, my mother gave me her old laptop. This was a much different experience than my desktop because I had access to the web 24/7,” said Carl. “It was truly fascinating to have the world’s information at my fingertips.”

When Carl realized he could make money on the internet doing something he liked as early as 2009, he decided to create a website that provided gamers with in-game walkthroughs for the Microsoft Xbox 360.

This was his first hands-on experience building and fully administrating a website from the ground up. Successfully, Carl generated traffic that averaged one thousand visitors a day, and six million total views on YouTube.

“The reward was the experience in itself,” said the avid gamer. “It was extremely gratifying to not only provide but also build a community around an audience of like minded individuals.”

A similar love for music piqued his curiosity and Carl decided once again to create a niche community, only this time catering to music enthusiasts.

He said, “Although there are several music information resources readily available on the web, none embrace the concept of user-engagement.”

The mission is to “create a site where users can search, discover, and discuss the music in which they’re most passionate about.”

Carl has begun to build the site, but like Jobs, has had to overcome obstacles along the way.

“Unlike many founders within the industry I by trade am a designer,” explained Carl. “And probably the biggest challenge for any designer with no prior background in programming is learning the code necessary for product delivery.”

He added, “If I had to make a comparison, learning to code is similar to embarking upon a completely new language. There has to be a level of consistency and focus to reach that particular level of fluency.”

Many have wondered why Carl didn’t follow his father’s footsteps and pursue sports with his natural athletic abilities. He mentioned he always loved playing basketball and knew he could excel, but decided otherwise.

Carl Banks Jr. “I had the choice of going to two high schools, one for basketball and the other for technology. I chose the route for technology,” he explained. “It was simply a matter of choosing what I was genuinely more passionate about. Despite my early success within the sport it was my love and appreciation towards the web that took favor.”

Ultimately, this love for technology attracted him to the University.

He said, “Unlike any of the other neighboring universities, I found it was very technology driven. In my 4 years here the design program has provided students with the latest and greatest tools to get the job done.”

Carl who is always within arm’s reach of his role model doesn’t doubt his future successes. Although he’s never met the man behind Apple, Carl said there hasn’t been a book or article that he hasn’t read about him.

“Steve has and continues to be a major influence in my entrepreneurial career. By his example I myself have learned to place a high regard towards presentation, product, and the overall user-experience,” said Carl.

He credits Jobs for major milestones in his life and knows that his recent win is just the beginning for his company Audiotecha.

“Last year, I didn’t place in the competition, but this year I won first place,” smiled Carl. “You can never give up because you’ll never quite know just how close you were to succeeding.”

After graduation, Carl will continue to serve as a designer for Thingee Digital, a New Jersey-based multimedia communications company.