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With NEC running, Echomusic execs launch Rockhouse
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Rockhouse aims to create value for owners of brands and venues by adding a layer of data-driven intelligence and marketing.

Update: Rockhouse sold to Raleigh, N.C.-based Etix in January 2011. Original story follows-Ed.

Former Echomusic product leader Joe Kustelski is turning his focus to his new data-driven, sports- and entertainment-oriented Rockhouse Partners LLC.

Kustelski, who has served the past four months as project manager for the launch of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center (NEC), said following the debut of the NEC this morning that today also marks the sharpening of his concentration on his own startup business.

The 38-year-old Nashville native has joined with several former Echomusic colleagues to launch Rockhouse. This morning, Kustelski told VNC the company has paying customers, as well as a pro bono project or two. He said he currently anticipates requiring no outside funding for the venture.

Kustelski explained Rockhouse is going to be the "layer" that wraps websites, mobile applications and other resources "around the brands" of sports, music and entertainment sponsors, venue owners and other customers.

Kustelski (left) stressed Rockhouse will emphasize capturing, analyzing and using consumer and business data strategically to drive customer satisfaction, revenue and business development.

He explained that major sponsors are demanding more value from their branding, sponsorship and advertising expenditures, and tallies of "impressions" and other "soft data" are no longer adequate to warrant spending.

Kustelski said that while he's not absolutely certain, Rockhouse may be "creating some space" in the market. He said he and his colleagues have yet to identify established competitors with similar positioning in the marketplace.

Kustelski said has been joined in the venture by Tawn Albright (right), who is a former general manager and CEO for Echomusic and earlier an executive with Echo parent Ticketmaster, as well as a former operations director for Liberty Media's OpenTV; and, Kevin Brown, who was director of strategic marketing for Echomusic.

Although Mark Montgomery, co-founder of Echomusic, is not part of Kustelski's new company, Montgomery was chairman of Kustelski's handpicked advisory commitee for launch of the Entrepreneur Center.

Echomusic was sold to Ticketmaster, which then relocated most of the company to Los Angeles. Montgomery left Echo in January, and was succeeded by Albright.

Kustelski said he will remain involved with the Entrepreneur Center while its sponsors – the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Partnerswhip 2010 and Nashville Technology Council – search for the EC's first chief executive, formulate a budget for calendar year 2010 and prepare to raise funds from government and private-sector sources.

Today's announcement represented a milestone in the two-year effort of the Chamber's Entrepreneurship Project, which was itself launched after extensive research.

Before Echo, Kustelski was vice president for new media for ANG Newspapers, and director of site production for Nashville-based Eve.com. He spent a year, also, as associate editor for Citysearch.com. He also served as director for business development for the JL Company, a healthcare marketing consultancy; and was an MBA intern at Brentwood-based PharmMD Solutions, which is run by CEO Sam Bartholomew III, and Chairman Clayton McWhorter, founder of VC Clayton Associates. Kustelski earned an MBA at Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University, in 2008.

Earlier, he earned a bachelor's at Peabody College of Vanderbilt, in the human and organizational development department. He graduated from Hillwood High School, in 1989.

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Tags: advertising, analytics, bootstrapping, digital media, Echomusic, entertainment, Etix, IAmMusicCity, Internet, Joe Kustelski, Mark Montgomery, marketing, music, Nashville Entrepreneur Center, sports, startups, Tawn Albright, venture capital, Web

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