Class of 2012
An entrepreneur, engineer, and soon-to-be recipient of an MBA from the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Arthur Soroken ’12 wakes up at 5 a.m. each day and goes to sleep around 2 a.m.
“I’m not going to get paid anything until I work, so I work harder,” the Freemont, California, native says. “I’m betting on my idea.”
His latest idea, ampcloud—a crowd-sourced mobile-controlled jukebox—took off in November.
“I was in a bar, and I heard Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ at 9 p.m.,” he recalls. “At 11:30 p.m. the song came back on, and it came on again right before closing.”
That night Soroken went home and teamed up with Nick Fischman ’12, an undergraduate studying computer science, and decided to design something that would let them control the music in a restaurant or bar; ampcloud was born, and its presence and popularity continues to grow. Users sign up by entering their email address at ampcloud.fm. Once they’re signed up, ampcloud users can control the queue of music—voting songs up or down the list—and add new music as well.
The mobile technology and music combination is a natural fit for Soroken. From 2001 to 2005, he worked as an application developer at Sun Microsystems, a position he accepted during his last year studying electrical engineering at the University of California, Davis. After five years at Sun Microsystems, Soroken accepted a position as the lead systems engineer at Cisco Systems, Inc., where he was head of design testing and solution sales for the company’s largest account, Verizon Wireless.
And, he admits, after growing up in a house full of classical and jazz music then playing the jazz guitar himself, he is somewhat of a music snob.
Not only is he the CEO and co-founder of ampcloud, Soroken is also the president and co-founder of MADathletic, Inc., an athletic equipment company featuring the BearClaw, which he started in 2010, soon after arriving at Cornell.
“The idea was there. The prototype was there,” Soroken says of the BearClaw.
The small, light-weight, high-density polyethylene board was developed by Pete DeStefano, the Big Red assistant football coach. With handgrips cut into it, the board replaces old-fashioned, heavy football sleds and is used primarily for offensive and defensive linemen drills to force athletes into proper blocking position.
DeStefano worked with the Cornell Center for Technology Enterprise and Commercialization to patent and market his product. Soroken, who accepted the business challenge, recruited MBA students Michael Arulgnanendran and David Croudace, and after a successful presentation to the Cornell Board of Trustees, the trio formed MADathletic to bring the BearClaw to market.
While he’d heard about Cornell’s engineering program from his days at UC Davis, Soroken says he chose to pursue his MBA at Cornell because the alumni network is so strong.
“I kept hearing about Cornell and the alumni network,” he says.
As Soroken worked to market the BearClaw, he experienced the power of that network first-hand.
The company recruited Seth Payne ’97, a former pro football player, as an advisory board member, and Fred Barken ’77 as an investor. After its official launch in November 2010, MADathletics has sold the BearClaw to football programs across the country including Syracuse, Clemson, Villanova, and Ohio State, as well as to numerous high school and Pop Warner teams.
“In a little less than a year the company went from idea to revenue,” Soroken says. “The company has done really well, but it’s not my passion. I’m looking to transition and bring on another board.”
As he prepares to graduate, Soroken says his experiences at Cornell had a profound influence on his life.
“It changes your life when you have someone you can trust and bounce ideas off of,” Soroken says. “The entrepreneurial professors here are, hands-down, the best. They’re not just teaching, they’re practicing.”
While he says it’s difficult to be an entrepreneur, Soroken is passionate about his newest product, ampcloud. After graduation, his future plans are still undecided. Will he stay in Ithaca, move to Los Angeles, or try New York City? Wherever he decides to go or whatever he decides to do, Soroken wants to impact his world.
“I want to make a name for myself,” he says. “Not because of fame. I want to change the world in some way. I want to wake up and make a difference every day. I want to leave with a legacy.”