Joe DeWulf, BBA ’15: Transforming the Way Customers Experience Livestream Events
In March 2019, long before COVID-19 halted live events and brought livestreaming to the forefront, Joe DeWulf, BBA '15, and fellow University of Michigan graduate Stephen DeBrincat, BS '15, quit their jobs to follow their passion. They formed a startup called Cadenza, a livestream platform they believed would change the music industry.
With the launch of Cadenza, DeWulf saw an excellent opportunity to help businesses who were learning a painful truth about hosting a digital event: Managing and directing quality digital events requires experience, and existing solutions were either overly complicated (such as building the infrastructure to handle millions of users at once), expensive, or produce unprofessional results.
By using technology that automates a digital event's complexities, Cadenza helps its clients host livestream events seamlessly and deliver authentic, immersive, and interactive events designed to enhance a user’s experience.
At Cadenza, DeWulf's primary duty is being the integral link between Cadenza's customers (digital event organizers) and his internal operations. This means working closely with customers to get the necessary product feedback for future technological advancements.
Cadenza has teamed up with artists like Oliver Heldens, The While Buffalo, and The Naked and Famous to deliver premium, interactive performances.
These collaborations also prompted DeWulf to appreciate the tremendous opportunities that exist in livestreaming beyond music. He has since ventured into other realms, including hosting virtual book events for notable personalities like Lady Gaga and managing corporate events such as a multi-day wine education function.
Learning to find the right path
Starting this journey wasn't easy, but DeWulf credits the Ross School of Business with giving him the tools he needed to take a leap of faith.
"Many Ross students set out knowing the exact job they want at graduation. I wasn't that way,” DeWulf explains. “Ross' broad-ranging curriculum challenged me to get outside my comfort zone until my unique path became apparent. I minored in sales and entrepreneurship, which proved to be the fitting kickoff for my journey post-grad."
DeWulf’s journey has required a strong worth ethic, an endless supply of resourcefulness, and a lot of teamwork.
"During difficult individual and group projects, I'd identify my knowledge gaps and find guidance from those I knew could help, especially my classmates and professors. I learned quickly that I wouldn't have as much success going it alone,” DeWulf notes. “In the Ross network, the startup arena opens up an amazing collaboration of world-class thinkers who are more than happy to help fellow risk-takers."
The lessons DeWulf learned while at Ross helped him realize that starting a business isn't easy, but it's not something you have to do alone.