Atlanta Founder Stories: DuMarkus Davis, Founder of Musicbuk

Startup Atlanta
6 min readJul 13, 2021

Over the last year teaching has looked different for most educators and these changes have resulted an increase in the demand for access and innovation, specifically in music education. This month’s Atlanta Founder Story takes a deeper look at how DuMarkus Davis, founder and CEO of Musicbuk, answered this call with a pivot during the pandemic that paid off for the best. Keep reading to learn more how DuMarkus is disrupting music education with a virtual learning platform that connects aspiring musicians of all levels to a wide network of trusted, vetted, professional musicians for 1-on-1 music lessons. #AtlantaFounderStories

Introducing DuMarkus Davis

Born and raised in College Park, GA, Davis often jokes that he might be the only classically trained violinist to come out of College Park in the last 25 years. Growing up, he pursued his own passion for music and ultimately ended up at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where he was offered the opportunity to tour the world with a group of some of the most talented musicians in the world. His experience as a student in the Bay Area widely known as Silicon Valley, led him to discover that he wasn’t as passionate about music as he was about developing his skills in leading people and solving problems for people at scale.

“Fortunately for me, my school was across the street from some of the world’s greatest tech companies and we had a lot of them on our board. Companies like Twitter, Uber, and Salesforce were only a block away and it was a pretty incredible experience seeing these people who were makers and solving problems with technology and I realized that there were all of these issues within classical music and music as a whole, that were not being solved.”

An industry ripe for innovation

Through his education in the history of classical music and live performance, DuMarkus realized that there was no thought process for innovation in this space. While auditioning for his next big post-grad opportunity and teaching music for a local shop, he realized how he and many of his colleagues went to work for companies who charged $80–90 per session but only paid instructors around $20. That was a seed that was planted for what became Musicbuk today. Although he had a job offer to join an orchestra, Davis decided to commit to bringing his idea for innovation to life.

“I realized very quickly that I wasn’t going to be able to work the job I was offered out of college and build a startup at the same time. When I commit to something, I commit 150% and as much as I didn’t want to do it, I moved back home to Atlanta with my family and focused on getting my entry way into tech. That’s when I discovered Atlanta Tech Village’s It Takes A Village, a pre-accelerator that kind of sent me down the rabbit hole and fast forward to where we are today.”

Riding the wave to the top

In 2018, DuMarkus founded Musicbuk. After completing the pre-accelerator at Atlanta Tech Village, DuMarkus committed to research and trial and error. Diligent on his mission to understand the inner workings of a successful startup, he joined other programs to dissect and understand the world of fundraising and he spent about six months on customer discovery to develop his business. Applying his knowledge of the history of classical music and live performance and combining it with his new education in technology, he applied for several pitch competitions and quickly began to build traction and early funding for his idea. When reflecting on his success in the pitch competitions he’s been in, DuMarkus remembers how previous experiences helped shaped his success.

“In addition to music, I worked retail so my background in sales always helped. Something we would always say in sales is even if you’re having a bad period, as soon as you hit that first sale your whole mentality changes and then you have sale after sale after sale, I kind of look at pitching the same way.”

A pivot during the pandemic

When discussing what changes he had to make to his business during the pandemic, Davis pointed out that the team at Musicbuk had to shift the entire go-to-market strategy to meet the demands of instructors who were forced to rethink the role that they played in their students lives. DuMarkus shared that this pivot made it easier to deliver on the company’s ultimate goal of accessibility.

“One major pivot we made was moving from the in-person music lessons to virtual. When we started the company, we were all about tactile feedback and if the teacher is not in the room, it wouldn’t work — we were completely against virtual music lessons but when March 2020 hit, that story changed and we had to pivot to virtual lessons. It was a necessary go to market change that created an opportunity to make us more unlimited as a company and deliver on our ultimate goal of making music education accessible to the world.”

Overcoming a new set of obstacles

Although DuMarkus shared that the pivot to virtual lessons did not pose a significant technical challenge for his team to deploy, the last year has exposed the more personal and difficult challenges of entrepreneurship for Davis, whose experience as a Black founder he described as a “test.”

“Something that people have not talked about enough is how hard it is to be a Black man and a CEO in this country, while watching these race riots happening and everything else. There were mornings where I had to get up and pitch to investors and I’m the only black person in the room but nobody would ask me how I was doing when any of these events impacting our community affected me but I still had to get up and deliver.”

Focused on overcoming his obstacles and creating the right support system around him, Davis describes that one of the greatest benefits of this challenging experience was his intentional focus on building a diverse team and modeling business practices that put employee mental health at center. DuMarkus’ focus and commitment to his company has not gone unnoticed, some of the large accomplishments that the team celebrated over the last year include: completing Techstars Kansas City accelerator, expanding the team to almost 10 employees, Davis’ exciting feature as a Forbes Under 30 honoree, and more recently a grant from 2021 Sphinx Tank.

Thanks for sharing your story with us DuMarkus! For more exciting stories of the founders that are making our Atlanta startup community so special, share this story and stay tuned at

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