By Cristina Paneque
Grooveshark University is becoming the farm system for Grooveshark, the Gainesville-based music-sharing company, as well as helping launch new software application companies.
“We were having trouble attracting outside talent since Gainesville is not well-known among software developers,” says Paulo Da Silva, Grooveshark senior software engineer. “This helps us grow our own talent.”
Grooveshark started Grooveshark U to help students learn skills that aren’t regularly taught on campus, Da Silva says.
Grooveshark has hired three of the 120 graduates of the program, which the company runs in partnership with the University of Florida’s Engineering Innovation Institute, Da Silva says. Grooveshark has provided internships for many others.
In addition, the program makes going into business easier than it was for Da Silva, who was the first employee, and the three founders of the company, which Da Silva calls the “YouTube of music.”
“We were all 19 or younger when we started, so we made a lot of mistakes,” Da Silva says. “Because we went through that process, we can guide young entrepreneurs through it.”
Grooveshark U grads have started at least three companies that make applications for the Web and mobile devices, Da Silva says.
UF junior Richard Brooks, a computer science major, launched his first Web app, http://app.vcnity.com, after participating in Grooveshark U in the spring.
The application pulls information about events near your location from Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and other social media.
Grooveshark enlisted Brooks as an intern this summer and now has hired him as an employee.
“A lot of professors at UF look more at the academic side, but with something that moves as quickly as computers and technology, GSU gives you a grasp on what is current,” Brooks says.
At first, Grooveshark U classes were at Santa Fe College’s Center for Innovation and Economic Development, but now some are at the Grooveshark headquarters downtown, and some are at UF.
Students meet once a week for hands-on work learning new programs and current technologies.
Grooveshark employees also have office hours, during which students can meet with them. Each student creates a project by the end of the semester.
Erik Sander, director of industry programs for UF’s College of Engineering, applauds the program’s “emphasis on learning by doing.”