This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the 11 student startups who are participating in our first in-person Terp Startup summer accelerator since 2020. Participating student entrepreneurs will receive a stipend up to $5,000 that will enable them to work exclusively on their startups over the next eight weeks.
Founders: Kang Ewimbi ’23, Entertainment Industry major.
DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Ewimbi: Empire 242 is a record label ran by artists for artists looking for an alternative path from the major recording companies, as independence and transparency are paramount to creativity.
DC: At what point did you know you wanted to create your own startup?
Ewimbi: I decided to create my own startup as I was entering high school. My friends and I were in a band, and we knew that we wanted to be in the music industry. As I was doing research to figure out how to expand our careers as artists, it became apparent to me that the business practices used by major record labels were underhanded and overall detrimental to creators. Thus, I got to work creating an avenue for us and other artists to pursue viable, long-lasting careers within the music industry.
DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup?
Ewimbi: Artist-owned record labels like Death Row, Young Money, No Limit, Dreamville, OVO, etc.
DC: How did you come up with the name of your business?
Ewimbi: So back in middle school, my friends and I were in a program called Rock Band. In it, we were able to learn how to play non-traditional instruments in a classroom setting — like electric guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, etc. Simultaneously, we would learn about history in the 20th century through the lens of music and pop culture. This experience really resonated with us, and so we decided to start an out-of-school band. After going through a multitude of names, we landed on Room 242, named after the Rock Band classroom where we cultivated our love of music. Going into high school, we stopped being a band as our music taste shifted towards hip-hop and pop, which lead to us becoming a record label and adopting the name 242 to pay homage to our origins.
DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Ewimbi: We have gotten our first record contracts drafted, released a constant portfolio of records across our artist roster, planned a series of underground concerts for the DMV music scene, and developed an efficient release checklist for our future drops.
DC: As a student business owner, what motivates you?
Ewimbi: I’m motivated by the change I want to see within the music industry, the drive of my friends as they grow artistically, and the general love of music I’ve had since birth.
DC: What are you hoping to achieve during the Terp Startup Accelerator this summer?
Ewimbi: I’m hoping to get our website designed, contracts signed, and business plan finalized by the end of the Terp Startup Accelerator.
DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be??
Ewimbi: Develop a team and trust them as much as you’re comfortable with. Teamwork makes the dream work, as they say.
To learn more about EMPIRE 242, please visit the website here.