AWE alumna matches music and film using AI technology

Frinny Lee holding computer (© Liu Yungnan)
The U.S. Department of State's Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) helped Frinny Lee, of Taiwan, develop her company A.V. Mapping, which matches music to movies using artificial intelligence. (© Liu Yungnan)

Would Jaws still strike fear without the ominous sounds foreshadowing an attack? Would Encanto capture hearts without the song “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”? And would the hills “come alive” without the sound of music?

Frinny Lee knows music makes or breaks film and video. Trained as a composer and engineer, Lee started the company A.V. Mapping, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help producers quickly find music and sound for their films.

Frinny Lee speaking into microphone as man in mask looks at notepad (© Max Yang)
Pitching and marketing skills Lee learned in the AWE program help her promote her company to investors and consumers. (© Max Yang)

The company’s AI technology matches a film’s essential elements — plot, action, dialogue and emotion — with music clips from a massive international database. While composing original music takes weeks or months, “music mapping” takes about eight seconds.

Lee’s company also handles music licensing, saving filmmakers another time-consuming task in an industry where missing the popular release season can spell financial ruin.

Lee developed A.V. Mapping with support from the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) in Taiwan. AWE is a U.S. government–funded exchange program that gives enterprising women the knowledge, networks and access to launch and scale successful businesses. Launched in 2019, AWE has helped more than 16,000 women in 80 countries to launch or grow their businesses, including nearly 200 women in Taiwan.

Through AWE Lee honed her marketing skills and made connections with other women entrepreneurs who instilled confidence that helped her face the challenges ahead. Like many startups, A.V. Mapping faced financial difficulties at first.

Some investors doubted a woman could achieve her ambitious business goals, Lee says. But her AWE community of women entrepreneurs helped Lee remain positive and not give up. “It is all about the community,” she says. “As female founders and leaders, we have to share our opinions and advice to support each other.”

She adds that many women entrepreneurs balance caring for children or elderly family members with the demands of running a successful business, which can be extremely stressful.

Frinny Lee holding award and smiling (© Chia-Chi Lan)
Lee and her company A.V. Mapping have won numerous awards. (© Chia-Chi Lan)

Eventually, A.V. Mapping’s innovative algorithm won recognition for both Lee and her company. Her business won the “Best of the Best” Red Dot Design Award in 2020 and the She Loves Tech Regional competition for Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau.

AWE’s #SheMeansBusiness English-speaking pitch competition awarded Lee “Best Potential” among AWE-led startups. The competition, organized by the American Institute in Taiwan, Meta-Facebook and others, is part of a public-private collaboration that brings U.S. business expertise to help women entrepreneurs in Taiwan reach global markets.

Lee says that these honors validated her business in the eyes of both consumers and investors, helping her gain financial support for her company.

“Seize the chance, enjoy the process,” Lee says, offering her advice for current AWE participants. “Try whatever you want.”

This article was written by freelance writer Emily Zhu.