Podcast Spot: What would I have done differently?

podcast spot Last night I presented in the VenturePrize Seminar Series with James Matsuba of IdleTime. The seminars are meant as a primer for this year’s competitors on business plans, building a company, and pitching ideas to investors (and judges). When I attended the seminars back in 2006, I found the most useful part was getting to hear the experiences of other entrepreneurs.

For that reason, I have been more than happy to go back and share my own experiences from the competition and beyond. Last night I talked about the VenturePrize process and making it to the finals, and James talked about his experience last year in the student competition and gave his presentation from the finals too.

As a presenter, I think the most enjoyable part is the question and answer period. Both James and I answered a ton of questions last night, but one stuck with me. After I had explained that we were shutting Podcast Spot down, someone asked what I would have done differently.

I didn’t have to think about it for very long, probably because Dickson and I have talked through this a number of times. There’s a ton of things I might have done differently, but two things in particular:

  1. I would have avoided using the word “podcast” in the name of our service.
  2. I would have focused on sharing audio and video for a specific niche.

I personally have nothing against the word podcast. I don’t think we hitched our wagon to the wrong horse or anything, because the underlying technology is sound and in use by millions of people around the world. The word itself has always been confusing and misleading, however. I’ve written many times that podcasting is just a word, but unfortunately most people don’t see it that way.

I also think it would have been a good idea to target our service to a specific group of people. As a service for anyone and everyone to share audio and video, we were a little too much like a YouTube clone (even though our feature set was quite a bit different). I think we could have executed more effectively with a smaller target customer base.

The follow-up question is, of course, why didn’t we do those two things? That question is much more difficult to answer!

  • Couldn’t agree more. Podcast to me is a horrible word. It means NOTHING to joe public. They know what an mp3 is, what a blog is, etc, but ‘podcast’ is too far/new for most people. More importantly, they can’t see themselves using podcasting. I’m still a firm believer that podcasting is a niche technology/product, which nicely ties into your second point…. It has it’s uses, but it’s not going to change the world. It’s great for some people/groups, but far from everyone.

  • The other thing about the word podcast is that some people think it means audio, and others think it means you have to use an iPod.

  • From what I have seen I agree that the word Podcast means different things to different people. I am doing a course for our teachers in December about Web 2.0 and podcasting is one of the items and for the audience I will have it will be defined as something along the lines of an audio blog. I think that a great untapped niche for this product (or similar) is the education market. There is a lot that teachers/professors could do with the technology but unfortunately most are afraid of the “newer” technologies.

  • Good point – education has always seemed a natural fit for podcasting, especially audio podcasting.

    The challenge is of course the bureaucracy that usually goes along with the education sector. That’s always been our experience, anyway.