In the nights before his 2011 graduation from UCLA, Charles Bergmann stayed up late in his Westwood Village apartment, making calls to the Ukraine.
Over the phone, computer technicians there helped Bergmann and his three business partners build a prototype of PROnoise, a music-sharing website aimed at helping budding artists gain exposure to new fans.
Several months later, the PROnoise teammates ““ which consists of Bergmann and fellow UCLA alumni Andrew Look, Chase Smiegiel and Nate Smith ““ now tweak their up-and-running site from a sleek, black office building on Wilshire Boulevard.
Some of the founders hold local office jobs and the site focuses on Los Angeles artists, so the PROnoise team elected to stay in Westwood after graduation.
A college artist himself, Bergmann designed PROnoise with the artist in mind.
The site will soon include an online music shop where local musicians can set their own prices for downloads.
“We want to let the artist control how their music is distributed,” Bergmann said. “I would’ve loved a tool like this as a start-up guitarist at UCLA.”
Officially titled the People’s Republic of Noise, the site allows users to share their new musical finds on Facebook and Twitter.
The team posts music from lesser-known bands, both start-up and seasoned, so visitors can uncover new music they would not find on the radio.
The founders of the site take advantage of their local roots in Westwood and reach out to up-and-coming bands in the city around the campus.
PROnoise’s proximity to Westwood has allowed it to reach out to a handful of UCLA bands.
Kyle Kuwatani, a second-year physics student and a guitarist for the band, The Internship, said the site has garnered the band new fans.
“The exposure we get to the Bruin fan base is awesome,” Kuwatani said. “Bands are in need of an easy way to share our art, like a YouTube for musicians.”
The site also aims to help listeners stumble upon new, local music.
Erin Roodhuyzen, a third-year communication studies student, said she first visited PROnoise after hearing that No Insurance, a band comprised of UCLA students, was featured on the site.
Roodhuyzen said PROnoise led her to the music of other Bruin bands, such as alternative rockers, The Internship.
The site’s founders credit their experience at UCLA as preparation for their current work.
Look, the business’s chief technology officer, said computer science classes aren’t the only aspect of UCLA life that primed him for the long working hours his new entrepreneurial endeavor requires.
“All-nighters in Powell totally prepared me for this experience,” Look said. “I miss having somewhere to go work all night with people around. It gets pretty lonely up in the office.”
About a month ago, the team secured funding from StartEngine, a start-up accelerator that gave PROnoise a $20,000 investment, professional mentorship and office space to use for three months.
At the end of the StartEngine program in March, the team will pitch its fully developed website to investors.
In the meantime, the four will be living in the same apartment ““ doing yoga together, Bergmann said.