by Michelle Jokisch Polo | photography by Kevin Huver
Andrea Wallace (aka Super Dre) is an entrepreneur, a software developer, a musician and a creative. Wallace wears many hats and that’s the way she prefers it. As a natural relationship builder, connections with people have taken her all over the United States from Los Angeles to Detroit and now back to Grand Rapids.
“I have been playing music since I was four years old,” Wallace said. “I was in concert band, marching band, jazz band. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do with music but I was going to do something.”
A couple of years after graduating from high school, Wallace bought a couple of turntables and some mixers started making electronic music and taught herself how to DJ. She first launched her career as a DJ in Grand Rapids after spending several years learning and mastering her craft.
Her first show was at an event in Grand Rapids Community College, and from there, her strategy was to connect with people.
“If there was a venue I really wanted to play at locally, I would just ask them and that’s how so many people got to know me here,” Wallace expressed.
At the time, she says there wasn’t a club where people could go and listen to house music, a genre of electronic dance, so she crafted these spaces and would invite people to join in what she called after-hours parties.
While it wasn’t always easy to get gigs, Wallace was persistent and eventually landed her first breakout concert opening up for a world-renowned American DJ and record producer, Bassnectar, at a local venue.
“After the show, I got to know them backstage and we developed a working relationship and they invited me to go on tour with them,” she said.
From there, Wallace’s career took off. She signed with West Coast Management Agency and went all over the country playing her music.
“Being in the music industry taught me there is an opportunity in the tech world to help growing artists,” she added.
“Last year I was working a full-time job, I had just launched a full-time job, I was also coaching the Midwest UX conference, I was in a startup accelerator, and I was playing gigs and everything that I was doing was spanning the whole year.”
— Andrea Wallace
And that’s exactly what Wallace has been doing when she’s not working fulltime as an innovation portfolio manager at Emergent Holdings. As a software developer and natural entrepreneur, Wallace saw the opportunity to use tech to help entertainers connect with answers in a meaningful and relevant way by relying on real data.
“Where Grand Rapids is right now, I feel like there is a lot I can do here,” she said. “There is a lot of opportunity here to have a startup that could actually provide an anchor to help develop the music industry here.”
Wallace created Fourtifeye, a data aggregation platform for musicians that uses machine learning to deliver insights on blended data from an artist’s social media, distribution, and delivery tools they use every day.
“In other words, it’s a platform to help artists quickly and easily understand their followers and make data-driven decisions, allowing them to focus on what they are good at: making music,” she said.
Wallace’s hard work has paid off; — last fall her idea won $20,000 at Start Garden’s Top 100 competition. Since then she has spent the last several months developing her idea and pitching her platform to investors at Universal Music Group and Capitol Records in Los Angeles.
“I felt like I talked to half of L.A. … but I got some really good feedback and made some great connections,” she explained.
Wallace plans to actively pursue investors to help fund Fourtifeye this summer, but in the meantime, she says she will focus her efforts in Motu Viget, a newly launched spirits company in which she’s a co-owner.
Time, Wallace says, is her most valuable resource and one she says she doesn’t have enough of.
“Last year I was working a full-time job, I had just launched a full-time job, I was also coaching the Midwest UX conference, I was in a startup accelerator, and I was playing gigs and everything that I was doing was spanning the whole year. It was crazy for a while and I really pushed myself probably too hard.”
She says she has learned to be very selective on where and how she’s investing her time. Although she says she has very little free time, her intention for this coming year is to slow down and help other women entrepreneurs gain access to resources and support.