It’s been described as the age of the side hustle.

The combination of working from home during Covid and the cost of living crisis means that an estimated 6.5 million Brits now have a second job to generate more income.

Amman Ahmed knows the value of a side hustle better than most after his Manchester-based MusicForPets – described as the Netflix for pets or ‘Petflix’ – was acquired by Hollywood hip-hop giant Create Music Group for an undisclosed eight figure sum.

The 36-year-old entrepreneur believes everyone should have a side hustle – but warns people against doing it simply to get-rich-quick.

“MusicForPets was a side hustle from another side hustle,” he said. “My advice to anyone wanting to follow suit would be not to quit your job too soon and come from a place of passion rather than a desire to make some quick money.

“As a successful entrepreneur from a BAME background I hope my story can inspire other people like me and anyone in general.”

Ahmed, who is due to speak at TechBlast’s FUEL Manchester event on September 20th, grew up in the Armley area of Leeds but struggled at school.

“The view from my parents’ house was of a prison and a graveyard and I didn’t want to go to either,” he said. “I found my escape on the internet and playing strategy games like Command & Conquer.”

Hollywood record label buys ‘Netflix for pets’

He studied information systems engineering at the University of Manchester before launching his first two businesses – RoundWaves and Rormix.

Rormix was a music video app which curated unsigned and indie music and built a base of 150,000 users a month.

Despite attracting around £500,000 in VC funding and being recognised as a Rising Star in the 2015 Northern Tech Awards, he eventually wound it down.

“My failure with Rormix taught me to move slowly and not grow really quickly with the additional pressure from VCs,” he said.

“When you have investment, you forget about business – you’re too busy raising rounds and pitching in front of people.”

Thankfully his other side hustle – RoundWave – proved more successful and became the inspiration for MusicForPets.

RoundWave created a network of YouTube channels that initially focussed on making music to help people sleep, relax and concentrate.

However Ahmed saw an opportunity to produce music specially for pets and founded MusicForPets in 2017 along with Ricardo Henriquez, with just £750 of his own savings.

Inspired by his own dog’s anxiety due to the violent noises in his neighbourhood in El Salvador, Henriquez, began composing music specifically designed to soothe pets.

Their original music has since become a favourite companion for pets and their owners on YouTube, Spotify, and other digital service providers (DSPs) around the world.

The company’s research shows that 87 per cent of dog owners report that their pets are less stressed after being exposed to Relax My Dog’s content.

MusicForPets received the coveted YouTube Gold Creator Award after racking up over a million subscribers on the streaming platform.

As its popularity grew the company became known as the Netflix for pets – or ‘Petflix’ – and is now used by more than 50 million pets worldwide.

‘Rormix failure taught me to NOT take VC money’

It was against this backdrop that MusicForPets was acquired by Hollywood-based Create Music Group for an undisclosed eight figure sum.

Ahmed said: “Most people only get to exit a business once or twice in their lifetime so you have to enjoy the experience and live in the moment.

“Two months after the exit it still doesn’t seem real. I haven’t really changed.

“I could have bought the fast cars and Rolex watch before the deal as my business was in already seven figures profit so I didn’t see the point in buying them afterwards.

“I’m still working on MusicForPets every day but rather than working from a point of pressure, my focus is growing the company within Create Music Group.

“I would always encourage people to have a side hustle but don’t gamble everything on it too soon.

“In the US everyone has a side hustle but we don’t tend to do that in the UK.

“My advice to is to focus first on fixing a problem and adding value to people’s life. That’s what we did at MusicForPets.”