Deal to Watch: Tuning in to RadioPublic

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At time of publication, June 25th, RadioPublic had raised $59.8K

This week, we are recommending that crowdfunding investors keep an eye on RadioPublic’s current raise underway right now at Republic.

Pandora is one of the biggest music-streaming services in the world today. Fueled by its podcast-picking algorithm and curated playlists RadioPublic wants to be the “Pandora of Podcasts.”

Today there isn’t an “easy listening” option for devoted podcast listeners. Think about it, you’re on a long car-ride, and you want to feed your mind with an intriguing podcast or two. You plug your phone jack into the cars’ dashboard, and already you’re doing something questionable: scrolling through your podcast app’s menu while driving.

By making podcast listening more “radio-like” RadioPublic can serve up tailored podcast content hassle (and car-wreck) free. We’ve seen winners like Pandora come into a crowded landscape and provide a uniquely curated music listening experience, and RadioPublic just might have the prowess to do the same for the fast-growing podcast market. For this reason, it is a KingsCrowd Deal to Watch.

If the company isn’t already on your watchlist it should be — there’s a lot of room for the podcast experience (already a high-growth industry) to be improved upon. If it can gain traction in spite of the competition it faces, RadioPublic might be worthy of moving from crowdfunding investors’ ‘watch list’ to a ‘buy list.’

Already finding its footing in a budding market...

Already, RadioPublic is getting attention from crowdfunding investors and media-industry insiders. It has raised $2.9 million in startup capital from companies like Bose and the New York Times. And its current raise on Republic has netted the company ~$59.8K in operating capital from 54 investors, and can ultimately fetch the company up to $1M in capital.

With early market traction, and sizeable funding, this team has a chance to play a major role in the budding podcast industry. To give you a sense of the market opportunity, check out some of the exciting stats on the podcast industry below:

  • Monthly listeners of any podcast amount to 73 million nationwide and weekly podcast listeners total 48 million (not bad in a nation of 320 million).
  • The market for podcast listeners in the US has doubled in the last four years, and a full 44% of Americans have listened to a podcast.
  • Ad spending on podcasts is expected to grow to $400 million by 2020. This follows podcast ad revenue growth by 87% from 2016’s $169 million to 2017’s $314 million showing.

Signs of strong differentiation...

RadioPublic may have an opportunity to capture a significant portion of the growing ad spend in the podcast market because of 3 differentiating factors.

(1) Current listeners on the platform spend about 72 minutes a day listening via RadioPublic, making these users highly engaged and valuable to advertisers.

(2) The team is working hard to monetize the long tail of podcast outside of the top 5% to 10% of all listens, which are rarely monetized. This leaves a large untapped opportunity to capture more ad dollars in the podcast market.

(3) The team is wise to take a B2B2C approach by partnering with major publishers such as WGBH and The New York Times, who are incentivized to drive audiences to the platform to get more ears and thus value for their content. This is a wise strategy for scaling the user audience and enhancing their market position.

In investing you’re trying to look for patterns to figure out what will likely happen to a prospective company in the future. One needs only look at Pandora and the music industry to understand that monetizing the long tail of music with a captured and tailored audience can be a winning strategy.

Serving up easy-listening in a crowded podcast market...

RadioPublic represents, at the very least, a company to watch very closely and possibly invest in for the right individuals. The challenge for RadioPublic will be how they maneuver a very crowded podcast market.

For this reason, RadioPublic, is not a “KingsCrowd Top Deal” (a title reserved for only the top 5-10% of funding rounds), but we still see a great deal of opportunity in this offering.

Competition is great for customers, but any business owner knows that it is the enemy of making great returns. And, unfortunately, RadioPublic has plenty of competition to go around. For example, here are some of the competitors below:

  1. General podcast-platforms like Apple’s iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Audible, and smaller ones like Castbox
  2. Castbox – Raised $30M to date (Just closed Series B April 2018 via Crunchbase)
    • 4.7/5 stars on Google app store (63K reviews)
    • 15 million users
    • Well-known and liked for cross-platform support, in-audio podcast search, and podcast discovery
    • Podcasters monetize channels through Castbox
      • Somewhat similar offering to RadioPublic platform

      3. Megaphone – Created by Panoply Media, powered by Nielson Data Management Platform

    • Platform to connect podcast publishers and advertisers that gives tools for specific market segmentation
      • Dynamic advertising selection
    • “By podcasters, for podcasters.”
      • Channel data analytics
      • Distribution tools

It’s just too early to tell if RadioPublic will be the winner here. However, it is apparent that VCs are willing to invest in this space, and the growth of the market warrants it. Whether or not RadioPublic comes out on top may not matter.

There is always the opportunity for acquisition by an earlier mover such as Castbox or by larger players like Spotify looking to expand their reach in the podcast market.

The founding team is a plus...

One thing that is certain when you invest in RadioPublic is that the founding team is really experienced, and can leverage their knowledge and success in this space to win.

    • Formerly the Co-Founder of PRX with other experience as a producer at NPR. Mr. Shapiro also happens to be a Harvard & Harvard Business School graduate.
  • Chief Product Officer, Matt MacDonald
    • Past entrepreneurial experience/successes: Co-Founder of PRX, Co-Founder/President/Coder at NearbyFYI
    • Other experience: Guest lecturer at Harvard Kennedy School, Software Engineer

We here at KingsCrowd are also impressed with the company’s already-long list of partnerships and early-stage investors. Lining up millions in investments from the likes of The New York Times, Graham Holdings, and Groupon Founder Andrew Mason to name a few is promising. And its chosen an extremely attractive carrot to chase.

If it can get a chunk of the podcast market-share pie, this could be a huge winner for crowd investors. However, the risks and rewards should be carefully weighed.


What KingsCrowders should walk away with

Podcasting is already big business, and it stands to get far bigger in the years ahead.

We don’t have a universally-accepted program, method, or application to simplify the podcast-listening process. By all means the opportunity to become the Pandora of the podcast market is there for the taking, and perhaps could even become an acquisition target down the road by Pandora.

RadioPublic aims to be just that, and this ambition is why it’s a deal to at least consider in the weeks ahead.

About: Chris Lustrino

A Boston College Eagle for life, on a mission to democratize startup investing for all people at KingsCrowd, with a passion for Fintech, investing, social impact, doing well and doing good, and an avid runner, cyclist and writer.

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