Indie Shuffle: from Cali back to Cape Town

After a quarter-life crisis and a vision of corporate life keeping him as a “monkey in a cubicle,” Jason Grishkoff decided fairly quickly that that wasn’t quite the life for him.

The South African-native with a British-influenced accent wanted to be his own boss—an entrepreneur. He refused to surrender to an unfulfilling life. Although his grandmother still insists that he hasn’t hit the “what am I really going to do in life?” stage yet, this successfully young man can finally say he’s comfortable, and lucky to be.

Currently living 7,803 miles away in his hometown of Cape Town, South Africa, Grishkoff pours about 12 hours a day into his job, which consists of constantly updating, fixing and developing aspects of his prized possession, website and music blog, Indie Shuffle.

While sitting in the private room of his office space, six hours ahead of us, he began to tell his tale of how it all began, and where it is that he is going.

At age 12, Grishkoff moved to the United States – Irvine, Calif. to be exact. His collegiate years were spent at the University of California, San Diego, where he studied history and political science. He graduated in 2007 with a blank vision of his future. With very little prep for the real world and post-grad stress, Grishkoff gave himself a year and a half to figure it all out.

In figuring it out, he decided to take the jump to move across the country. In 2009, he took a job at a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C. where he was figuring out executive’s compensations.

“I hated it,” he said. He was alone, and felt extremely disconnected. Between trying to make friends and working, Grishkoff filled his time streaming music—at least a couple of albums a day. He decided the best way to fulfill his social desires, was to email his friends about the music he was discovering on a weekly basis, which unknowingly led him to the start of something amazing.

His obsession with streaming music quickly grew and each week he was sending the emails out to at least 50-100 people at a time. It was then that he decided to pull together a website to catalog the information and bands that he was finding. With very little knowledge in web development, Grishkoff taught himself how to do it, thus the birth of Indie Shuffle.

Although the idea of this website seemed more appealing, Grishkoff still needed to work full-time. In late 2009, Google had offered him a job in their executive compensation department, which was very similar to what he had been doing at his non-profit job. He interviewed, and got the job in San Francisco, leaving D.C. behind.

“In fact, it was perfect timing. I was about to be fired from my job in D.C. for not showing enough ‘passion’ and for tinkering around on a stupid website that wasn’t going to go anywhere,” Grishkoff said.

“They legitimately said ‘you’re at a point in your life where you need to think about your career, are you going to be professional or not? You have the opportunity to succeed in the professional world, or you can keep screwing around with your website, and I said ‘ehhh…’” he continued.

At the beginning of 2013, things took a turn for the best for Indie Shuffle. Grishkoff was picking up a lot of traffic on the site, allowing him to sign an advertising deal with Spin Magazine.

He eventually left Google, and for these last two years he’s been taking Indie Shuffle to all new extremes. He’s created a mobile app, altered its functions and now has people from across the world contributing their findings.

Grishkoff’s vision going forward is his goal and desire to diversify. “Indie Shuffle is really cool, it gets me a lot of street cred and it allows me to do a lot of awesome stuff and travel all over the world, but there’s no guarantee that it will be around forever,” Grishkoff said.

“And it certainly will not make me a millionaire,” he continued. Web developing has opened up a lot of opportunities for him, and he’s aiming to start up a web agency and actually start building websites for other people.

As of today, Indie Shuffle has evolved to become its own beast with about 300,000 unique visitors listening to 6 million songs each month.

“The idea is freakin’ genius. When I first heard about Indie Shuffle, I went into a music coma. I couldn’t stop searching and listening. I truly think it’s an amazing idea,” said Sara Waters, a senior here at St. John’s.

Grishkoff claims his journey is a blessing, and advises everyone to take chances.

“You aren’t going to get it right the first time and if you do, I feel sorry for you. Because you don’t actually know if you’ve got it right. You won’t understand the experience of being down, and you won’t appreciate finally being in the right place.”