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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston Student is Founder of the Nabi Music Center

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Nabi Music Center

In a city like Boston, with its big university names like Harvard and Northeastern, it is easy to dismiss the University of Massachusetts Boston as a deadbeat and, frankly, last resort for picking up a degree. To be fair, UMass Boston is nothing like a normal college. With most of the student population commuting and working, it requires a lot more individual effort to find your niche and make the most of your college experience.
However, just because it requires a bit more effort does not mean UMass Boston is not equally packed to the brim with opportunities, connections, and the resources to find your own idea of success. Vanessa Charles, the CEO and founder of Nabi Music Center, is the perfect example of someone who made the most of her time at UMass Boston and came out on top.
Charles graduated from UMass Boston in 2012 with degrees in International Management and Political Science and is currently enrolled for a third degree in Music Performance.
“I always wanted to study music and that was my master plan since the beginning,” Charles said.
However, she never expected to end up founding her own company.
“As a music major, you make one of two things—you make music or you make musicians. Education is a bridge for that,” Charles said.
Her father, an entrepreneur, introduced her to what she calls the “business side of life.” But after spending a lot of time with musicians after beginning her degree in music, she noticed how relaxed everyone was.
“I know you’re good at music and you’re talented and artistic, but there is an industry out there. If you actually want to be successful, you have to be motivated,” she said.
“For a while, I was teaching music to a couple of students. I met this super talented bass player at my friend’s house and we wanted to go out but he did not have the money. It made me wonder how someone so talented was not finding success, and made me think, maybe I should link these musicians with students. And that is pretty much how everything started.”
As of now, the 2014 start-up is run entirely online. Students can sign up for classes on the website, and instructors can either come to the student’s house and instruct them at their own home, or teach them over the web.
“We also host events so people can connect and share their music. We do not just them to take music lessons and then just forget about it. We want them to perform the music and also connect to others who are doing the same thing,” Charles said.
The age range of students at Nabi is incredibly wide, ranging from young children to senior citizens.
“The hardest part of the job is keeping people motivated and engaged. That is my main goal as a leader—to make them feel like their work matters,” Charles said. “I send out a list of all our names and activities everyone is working on and why their duties are important for the overall goal. That way people can see the impact they have and how what they do affects everyone else. It’s all about teamwork.”
The instructors are currently all volunteers and there is no official office, as Nabi is still a young company and Charles and her team are still meeting with investors. Because of this, it is difficult to build a strong workplace environment, where everyone is reminded of their critical place in the company. Motivating the team and consistently demonstrating strong leadership are especially important aspects of Charles’s job so her team can maintain Nabi’s mission to connect instructors to students.
Charles also commented on what she thinks is most important for students either looking to start their own companies or trying to achieve their own definitions of success.
“I think if you have true desire and you know what you want to do and where you want to go, you are going to do it,” she said. “When you start putting the pieces together, you are going to start meeting the right people and everything is just going to flow almost magically. You cannot just put in fifty percent of the work, either. A company is like having a child. You are either taking care of it or you are slacking off.”
Finally, Charles shared her love for UMass Boston and her happiness in selecting the university for her second round of studies.
“People talk about better schools or better this or better that. I believe that if you are going to succeed, you are going to succeed even if you have no money or even access to school. If you have that true desire, you are going to do well regardless of what school you go to,” she said.