Rap music has certainly evolved over the decades to become a pretty mainstream thing, but the act of rapping itself is not exactly seen as a commonplace hobby.
But Detroit-based entrepreneur Erik Torenberg thinks that’s something that should change. According to him, everybody has it inside of them to freestyle rap — it’s just something that can be tapped into with the right amount of mentorship and practice. And, he says, rapping is a very valuable skill: It’s an effective creative outlet that makes you more confident in communicating with others and expressing your thoughts and feelings.
That’s why he co-founded Rapt.fm, a startup that’s building an online platform that lets people all over the world challenge each other to one-on-one rap “battles” — yep, just like the ones depicted in the movie 8 Mile — that can be watched and voted on by an online audience. Rapt.fm is currently in private alpha mode, but the goal is to open it up to the wider public in the coming weeks.
It’s clearly very early stage, but I think it’s a cool idea that could have legs. Rap is a hugely popular genre of entertainment that has been on the VC world’s radar recently thanks to Andreessen Horowitz leading a $15 million funding round in rap lyrics site Rap Genius. I could see aspiring young rappers really using this site a lot — with established musicians and music industry business people dropping in as well to scope out new talent and stay in touch with their fans.
Rapt has seven staffers and is currently part of the Bizdom incubator in downtown Detroit’s M@dison building, so TechCrunch TV was able to get an in-person demo when we swung through Motor City for our TechCrunch Northern Meetups earlier this month. Watch the video embedded above to hear about where the concept for Rapt came from, the tech that makes it possible, and most importantly, to watch a startup CEO freestyle rap as part of his pitch (not something that happens every day in this business.)