Anyone who has spent any time in a classroom in the Facebook era knows that the old days of teaching students ust with textbooks and chalkboards is long gone.

You have to capture students’ attention visually and through sound. Developing brains today are bombarded by images and sounds from flatscreen TVs, portable game devices and through their parents’ phones.

Rather than fight the trend, successful teachers embrace it. This week, CNN Money highlighted Marcus Blackwell Jr. and his company, Make Music Count, an Atlanta-based company which uses pop songs to teach math concepts.

Blackwell studied jazz and classical piano at a very young age. He was indifferent in math because it was a subject “taught to be feared.” When he was in college, he was playing at a wedding when a friend asked him to explain how to play the piano. Blackwell realized he was using math terminology more than music theory and a business idea was born.

He created a curriculum for middle school and high school and offered it for free to a middle school near his home. After realizing it would work, he then began pitching it to schools all over Georgia. It took about six months to land his first paying client. Since launching in 2012, according to CNN Money, revenue has grown from $12,000 to more than $250,000 annually and the recent publicity undoubtedly will accelerate that growth.

The growth of Make Music Count highlights a lot of what is necessary to become a successful entrepreneur.

  • First find your passion: Blackwell loves music and was able to see the possibilities in how to apply it elsewhere only because it is his passion. Running a sandwich shop may be extremely profitable, but if you don’t have a passion for creating healthy food then no business plan will save you.
  • Be creative: Math is a subject that has been taught by millions of teachers to millions of students. Just because there was an established way to do it doesn’t mean it can’t be done better.
  • Be persistent: Lots of people have great ideas. Blackwell took his ideas much further than 99 percent of us would ever bother. He created a curriculum and had the courage to face rejection or ridicule by testing it out on others. Then he used an attribute computers can’t replace, old-fashioned sales tenacity. He pitched his ideas to every school district that would listen and it took six months for his first sale.