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CTO Spotlight: Edwin Melendez of BetterYou

How much in the music world translates into the tech world? Enough to launch a successful product, it turns out. In his CTO Spotlight, Edwin Melendez talks moving from music production to BetterYou, how he and Sean Higgins met, the stress of the first six months of development, and much more.

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Special thanks to Livefront for sponsoring our CTO Spotlight series. Livefront works with partners to design and build world class digital products. Their senior level team of engineers and product designers are guided by four core principles, and are excited to hear about your next project!

Check out a short excerpt from the interview!

Jac Stark: Let’s get right into it. We’d love to hear kind of what your journey has been to where you are right now. From what we understand, you started off in the music track, and now you are a technical lead at BetterYou.

Edwin Melendez: Yeah. interesting you mentioned that. Yeah, I actually come from more of the music world. I had a degree in audio engineering and production. I figured it would kind of translate well into the tech world. So, I went back to school for app development, and then from there, started doing freelance work. Then, I ran into Sean [Higgins] who had the idea for BetterYou.

He originally hired me as a designer for the app, and then fired me pretty quickly, because they weren’t quite up to par. But he came back later and asked me about developing. We kinda jammed a bit, and then we started the company. So, I started developing.

He’s the business side. I’m the tech side. It’s just been a grind ever since.

Nels Pederson: In the music world, what you have to learn to be successful and then also in the tech world… what are some of the similarities there that you’re seeing?

Edwin Melendez: Production [is] really detail oriented, and there’s a lot of like creativity and problem solving. You know, getting things to sound just right. Or, you know, the actual technology behind everything. You really have to understand your workspace, and it’s pretty similar with like coding.

You get a toolbox the tools and you gotta learn how to use it. Some of those main concepts are the same. I just think being around computers just naturally translates pretty well to like coding and all that.

Jac Stark: And how did you meet Sean?

BetterYouEdwin Melendez: We’ve actually known each other for a really, really long time. We actually went to school together — grew up together. So, we’ve always kind of been friends. We kinda went our separate ways for a while… And then, I happened to be coding and doing freelance. So, it was a good opportunity for us to just like link up and start something.

Jac Stark: And for the five people out there that don’t know what BetterYou is, could you explain what that is and where that idea originated from?

Later in the interview.

Nels Pederson: I’m kind of curious that first six months when you’re ferociously putting together a product… what was that like?

Edwin Melendez: Oh, man, it was pretty intense. I guess the big challenge was like the, the work ethic is a little difficult, you know, starting off, both remote. So, I was like building out of the basement — classic tech startup. And I was still pretty fresh developer.

So, a lot of the technology is like super new. Just getting a grip on like how Android and iOS work was just a mountain to overcome in itself. But we were quickly joined by our other backends, our data scientists…

We signed our first customer pretty early on. Then, we basically prioritized… what are the things that we need to make this happen?

We launched [on Android] and used the initial feedback that we got to build the iOS app. We had some help from an outside developer, and then I eventually took over iOS as well.

So, those first few months was definitely, definitely a challenge. But I learned a ton and you know, you have to adapt to all the challenges that present themselves.

Get the story from other Minnesota CTOs!

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Alex Skjong
Alex oversees the content produced for BETA, Twin Cities Startup Week, and When he’s not writing or editing, there’s a good chance he’s enjoying a refreshing brew and explaining the merits of heavy metal (of which there are many).