By Kate Toporski, CFE Content Development Intern

Have you heard?! The winners of the Pandora Music Challenge have been announced!

Two weeks ago, we kicked off a major challenge with Pandora’s President and CFO, Mike Herring. Starting with a killer performance from The Voice Top Ten Finalist, Daniel Passino, Pandora opened up its data sets to University of Michigan students. The task? Create an unbeatable go-to-market plan for this rising star. Working in teams, students were challenged to engage their creative and entrepreneurial mindsets to innovate the music industry. The winners of the Pandora Challenge would receive an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City to meet top executives from Pandora and Next Big sound.

On Monday, our winners were announced! Check out their video here and meet the men behind Daniel Passino’s new market strategy–Charles Shin and Prashant Toteja! Also, visit Real Industry’s challenge recap.


Q: What’s your year and major?

Charles Shin: I’m a junior in the School of Information, with a minor in Entrepreneurship.

Prashant Toteja: I’m also a junior, with a dual degree in the School of Information and the Ross School of Business.


Q: How did the two of you meet?

PT: Charles and I met through mutual friends during our freshman year at Michigan. We both had a lot of interest in entrepreneurship, which brought us to MPowered. Eventually, we became Co-Directors for MPowered’s 1,000 Pitches program. We have a really strong team dynamic, which translated into a great friendship.


Q: How did you get into entrepreneurship?

CS: I got into entrepreneurship because it gives you the freedom to create anything you want. Whatever venture or idea you want to pursue, you have this self-belief that you can make something out of nothing.


Q: Why the Pandora Challenge? What drew you in?

CS: “Design Challenge” immediately got my attention. We chose the Pandora Challenge because both Prashant and I have interests in music and data. We had a chance to take it in a really creative and bold direction. Plus, the NY trip sounded incredible.

PT: When I saw the event circulating around Facebook, I immediately sent it to Charles; design and re-branding are totally up his alley with his background in user experience. But once I found out that there was a data component, I was all in.


Q: How long did the Challenge take you to complete?

PT: The data and research part of the project took about six to eight hours. We had done so much research, that we attached a separate PDF of all the data that we collected. But we spent about 13 hours on our video. Our video was inspired by the iPhone 7 release: short phrases and fast pace, with exciting music. The video had to be on point, bringing our creativity and data together into a killer go-to-market plan for Daniel. We have a passion for music, so it was easy to fall in love with the project.


Q: Why are challenges like these important to student entrepreneurs?

CS:  Student entrepreneurs need challenges that drive them to create applicable solutions to existing problems. The important step isn’t so much the end goal, but the process that you navigate to get there. That’s where you learn the most and gain really valuable experiences.


Q: What are you most looking forward to in the trip to New York?

CS:  I’ve never been to New York so I’m excited for the experience. As a designer, I’m really interested in meeting with the Pandora execs and going through their recent rebranding process.

PT: I’m really excited to go see the office and talk to some of the leading minds behind great music platforms. So many people are out there trying to make it in the music industry; the rise of big data helps us find new ways to explore artists.


A big congratulations to Charles and Prashant for being some of the leaders and best within Michigan’s entrepreneurial network. Enjoy your trip, and make sure to tag us in your photos!

Interested in challenges like these? Ready for opportunities that could change your career? Make sure to check out our website to keep up-to-date with the latest and greatest events at the Center for Entrepreneurship.