By Ryan Cornell
FRONT ROYAL -- On the morning of his 18th birthday, Asad Yusupov woke up in a hospital bed.
He had been admitted the night before for alcohol poisoning, after his friends found him passed out in an elevator. From that moment on, he said, he decided he needed to make a change.
"I was disappointed with what I was doing," he said. " I knew I could do more."
The following day, he decided to drop out of West Virginia University -- he said he was pursuing a degree in "lumberjacking" -- without a single clue of what he was going to do next.
"I just knew I loved music and I knew I had a business that was going to work," he said. "And I had everybody and their mother telling me, 'You're an idiot, what are you doing?'"
Today, the 20-year-old Front Royal native has proven them all wrong. He's already successfully created two startups and is working on his third. Along with a team of three developers: Ivan Veskov, Josh Gunter and Brian Putt, Yusupov launched TourCommand on May 24.
TourCommand is a desktop and mobile app that helps artist managers organize tours and schedule their shows. Among its features are tools that streamline budgeting, tour riders, gear and set lists and hotel information near each venue. Yusupov recalled hearing the news about landing one of their first clients.
"So I was at Taco Bell with Ivan and he gets an email from Roc Nation saying, 'Hey, we're interested in your software and we want to check it out,'" Yusupov said. "And we were like, 'Wait a sec, is this the same Roc Nation that we think it is?' So I said, 'Respond back to them and ask them who they're clients are.'"
"They took 30 seconds to respond back to us and were like, Shakira, Calvin Harris and you might have heard of Jay-Z," he said
Yusupov said he got the idea for the app in February, right after he had gotten off of a tour with Steve Aoki -- his most recent startup was a bus touring company for artists -- and was exhausted from the intensive schedule and late nights involved in the touring industry.
He called a friend at Virginia Tech who was a developer and they bounced ideas off each other about the touring software. Within eight hours of hanging up the phone, he was living in Blacksburg and had started the company. Yusupov said the developer isn't part of TourCommand anymore, but their relationship ended amicably and he received a payout.
The company is currently in the process of raising Series A funding. After its meeting on Tuesday, Yusupov said they were going to start their search for a lead investor.
The four-partner team is like a younger Web 2.0 version of the Avengers. Veskof, 21, is the marketing pro behind TourCommand. When he's not attending classes at George Mason University, he's working as an artist manager for his own record label. Gunter, 24, and Putt, 22, are former partners and co-founders of Heyo, a million-dollar Blacksburg startup that creates social media campaigns.
Yusupov said they help him maintain his focus. "Each day, there's a new idea that's better than the one from the day before," he said. "And if it wasn't for my three partners, I would be talking about building a space shuttle now. They keep me grounded and rooted."
Indeed, you could credit his success to his ambition. The word is tattooed across his back, after all. Yusupov said he's learned everything from his father, who built his own green energy company from the ground up after immigrating to the U.S. from Uzbekistan, and he's also looked up to the tireless work ethic of his 25-year-old brother.
Yusupov said he's been trying to convince his partners to bring the company to Front Royal. TourCommand is currently located in Haymarket, but it doesn't feel like home, said Yusupov.
"Along the way, I pissed off a lot of people and ruined a lot of friendships, but in the process, I made real friends that I still can rely on," Yusupov said. "It's been an awesome adventure."
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or email@example.com