Questions & Answers
I saw podcasts as the next step to the radio. Now your startup is bringing podcasts back to radio. What was your “WHY?”
The “why” is quite an interesting one, because there are two separate industries at play with Podcast Radio: the radio industry and the podcast industry. They both share the medium of audio, but some things that can happen in podcasting don’t happen in radio, and vice versa.
When we were starting our journey, people looked at the venture and thought, ‘perhaps they are filling a radio station with podcasts.’ From the outside, it may look like this, but it’s actually the other way around. We’re not putting the radio station up, necessarily, against other radio stations. We have instead created a mass media promotional tool for the podcasting industry. And it sounds great for listeners!
The issue with podcasting is, there are just too many podcasts now. People spend time and money on creating incredible content, but then their podcast has an almost impossible struggle of being noticed amongst every other podcast out there. In effect, our platform actually brings a mass media promotional tool to the ever-increasing pool of podcasts.
What was your eureka moment?
I was working in radio, managing a radio station. I started a new podcast with my co-host, who happened to be a comedian. We had all the expensive equipment at our fingertips, better than what your average podcaster does. We broke into the top 10 of Apple’s UK comedy podcasts… and then about a week later, we disappeared. We dropped off the rankings and no one found it again! This was a huge lesson for me – that without strategic marketing, it’s really hard to keep building an audience for a podcast.
My eureka moment was when I understood that podcasting is struggling with marketing. Acknowledging that really simple issue led to the thought, “Well, radio reaches a lot of people.”
Radio has been a tool for discovery for 100 years. Luckily, I was already working in radio and seeing that happen day in, day out. I now witness our radio channels introduce listeners to new podcasts every single day.
In short, we took competing mediums and made them work for one another, each using their strengths to complement the other.
What’s your team like?
I have been lucky in building a great team at Podcast Radio. I’m beyond excited about adding to it soon.
Before launch, a fellow of the Radio Academy, which is the highest honour in broadcasting in the UK, joined me on the Podcast Radio journey. His name is Paul Chantler. The two of us worked with incredibly passionate early investors and kicked off the venture in February 2020.
Shortly after, we landed an incredible broadcaster called Gene Baxter, who came from the ‘world-famous’ KROQ in Los Angeles. Gene is a US Radio Hall of Famer and an incredible podcaster too.
We also snapped up the Asian Young Presenter of the Year for voice work, her name is Kavita – she sounds amazing. On top of this, we grabbed Graham Mack, a seasoned pro in commercial and BBC radio, and he crafts our phenomenal podcast chart show every week called The Pod 20.
In short, the team members are amazing at what they do, so I just leave them to it.
Why did you choose crowdfunding at Seedrs as opposed to angel investors or VCs?
We are still chatting with many Angel investors and VC funds, and we may yet partner with some on top of the crowdfunding. However, we deliberately offered crowdfunding now because podcasting is really about the people; it’s user-made content.
I swore to myself that if it was going well, we would offer people the chance to own equity in our fantastic platform. It was important for us to create this opportunity for people so they could come along for the ride – and they have done. I certainly believe it will be a very exciting journey for all early investors as we have incredible expansion plans.
What is interesting to note is that our campaign attracted a lot of first-time investors. The
fact that most people are first-time investors means this really matters to them.
What advice would you give to someone who is going to start on that process, and they want to now go towards crowdfunding?
Really simple advice: it’s not easy! Nobody owes you anything. Just because you have created an opportunity for people to invest both small and large amounts, no one owes you that money. And so, you’ve got to make sure you’ve given them something worth their money. Simple, but it’s true.
For Podcast Radio, we were adamant that people would get to own a genuine part of the company. But of course, by investing in Podcast Radio, people are investing in a unique company – the only company on the planet doing what we do.
I would love to have a glass of champagne with everyone who has invested, whether they’ve put in £17 or £20,000. We are expanding and growing quickly because they believed in it. We really appreciate it, and we consider our investors as part of the team here.
Before starting this venture, did you have any entrepreneurial fear? How do you overcome that?
I was lucky that I designed, launched and now work on a project that I understood in depth before incorporating the company.
The day to day is thrilling to me and every small win is a big win if you want it to be. Yes, at times, it was really hard and frustrating. And of course, broadcasting is a cutthroat industry where everyone wants to be the next star. But being from the industry helped me get over that entrepreneurial fear.
The biggest star for me personally is actually my girlfriend, who paid the rent when I decided to design and launch a platform for discovery in podcasting. To me, she has been the biggest star regarding any success we’ve had to date. When I occasionally sit down, look out of the window and think, “Oh, this is going quite well,” I know I couldn’t have done it without her.
Your fundraising campaign is doing well on Seedrs. How do you plan to use these funds?
We have already expanded twice since launch, and we are now broadcasting in London, Surrey, Manchester and Glasgow. We are also growing globally, as users connect via our various online channels (website, app, smart-speakers and our search/discovery tool). We have proven that we want to keep expanding. As we attract new listeners and users, we want the model to keep working for all those who use it.
This, in turn, means it is now time to inject that model with capital. Growth also means transmission into new cities, which comes with extra costs.
It’s also important for us that people know when we have landed in those cities, so an effective marketing budget has been catered for.
We will also bring in a couple of extra staff members who have great skills to add to the team.
How did the pandemic impact your business?
In one way, we’ve sailed through the pandemic because we launched at an unusual time and wouldn’t know any different. On the other hand, we’ve had the same challenges as everyone else: the advertising has been limited as shops and brands have had their own doors closed.
The important thing for us was that we didn’t let anyone go. We knuckled down and made sure we paid our staff. Now is hopefully the time that we can grow, rewarded by the fact that we have kept our excellent team.
What would you call success for Podcast Radio? What would make you say “We made it”?
In a way, it’s already happening. A great example of success to me has been the copious emails from podcasters featured on Podcast Radio, as these podcasters report more listens and more downloads via their own analytics.
As we see a spike in their podcast’s listenership, or when they reach a new audience in a new area of the country, that is success for us. We want to see it continue to happen time and time again.
Finally, I have got to ask you this one! What’re your three favourite podcasts?
This is an interesting question! My first choice is from a guy called Tony in Pennsylvania. His podcast is called “Finding Subjects”. I assume it is called so because he simply finds subjects as he goes. It’s so clever, so charming, and he is just himself.
Second is Alan Alda’s podcast, “Clear+Vivid”. The podcast is actually about communication. Alan has made a career from being on screen and performing, but he also loves science and fine art of communication too.
My third choice is from Melbourne, Australia. It is called “The Hardest Word” and made by podcaster Brett de Hoedt. The podcast takes real apologies from everyday people who record themselves. Episodes then deconstruct what is happening in the apology. There is no other podcast like it on the planet!
Thanks for these, I’ll definitely tune into these soon! Thanks once again, Gerard, and good luck with Podcast Radio!