founder

Podetize Founder Tracy Hazzard on Leveling the Podcast Playing Field

Introduction

All of the buzz and revenue opportunities around podcasting naturally piques the interest of entrepreneurs and content creators. But creating a podcast isn’t easy. It’s a major effort to create a brand, plan episodes, record interviews, edit audio, and market the show.

Podetize is a comprehensive podcast creation and monetization platform meant to simplify the process of running a podcast. It includes a number of features and services for creators, ranging from episode creation and marketing assistance to advertiser networking. We reached out to co-founder and CEO Tracy Hazzard to hear more about how her team tests its services and why she chose to raise money through equity crowdfunding.

Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Yasmin Sharbaf

In your own words, how would you describe your company?

Tracy Hazzard

Podetize is the most comprehensive podcast service and hosting company in the industry. We focus on the 98% of podcasters who are unable to monetize their shows through traditional advertising methods. With a unique blend of software-as-a-service, creative-as-a-service, and marketing-as-a-service, we make podcasting simpler, stickier, and more rewarding to podcast hosts, listeners, and partners.

Yasmin Sharbaf

What inspired you to take the leap and start this company?

Tracy Hazzard

My partner, Tom Hazzard, and I had a company focused on product design for more than 25 years. Like many other entrepreneurs, we tried many alternative organic ways to increase our visibility in the market. Nothing worked until we started podcasting. We started our first show, with a geeky focus on 3D printing, called “WTFFF?!” in late 2014. Within five months, we had 25,000 listeners, and large market players like MakerBot wanted to sponsor our show. When we started to evaluate what to charge and how to insert the ads into our entire show catalog (more than 100 episodes at the time), we were surprised to discover the lack of an effective or affordable solution. So we invented our own method to fill a major void in the marketplace. A few months later, we were making thousands off our show, and other podcasters were shoving credit cards at us to “just do it” for them. We went from 10 client shows in 2016 to more than 1,000 shows successfully launched as of 2021.

Yasmin Sharbaf

Who is on your team and how did you come together?

Tracy Hazzard

My partner (husband and co-founder) and I have been working together in product development for more than 30 years. We have 108 team members around the world and add scale as needed every quarter. A key addition to our team recently is ERock Christopher, a strategic advisor who has helped with investor relations and business development. Our team has evolved, with others providing code development skills, marketing and social media advisors, customer service, communications development, creative, human resources, and more. We are a lean organization on leadership overhead and strong on inspiring remote work productivity since 2017. As a predominantly female-led organization with more than 70% of our team being women, we’re excited to help foster more diversity in the podcasting space. 

Yasmin Sharbaf

How is Podetize transforming the podcasting industry?

Tracy Hazzard

By obsessively focusing on making podcast monetization for all a reality, we are leveling the playing field between the giants and the independents. Podcasting has an extremely high fail ratecalled “podfading”with eight out of 10 podcasts failing to get past 20 episodes or one season (including the ones developed by big studios). Historically, we have had less than an 8% fail rate because our clients are strategic about why they are podcasting, what their goals and outcomes should realistically be, and have alternatively monetized their show. Additionally, because of our range of personalized support, we have added the human touch into bespoke creative services, software subscriptions, and live customer success support. Imagine what will happen to the industry when the majority of podcasters can finally monetize their show.

Yasmin Sharbaf

Who are your target customers? And how does Podetize help new podcasts?

Tracy Hazzard

Our main focus is on clients and subscribers looking to use podcasting to grow a business or their influence. New podcasters find out quickly that our way of podcasting goes well beyond audio and listener growth. It translates into higher industry and digital authority, including organic, web, and social growth. We help potential podcasters remove technology and confidence barriers, so they get started podcasting faster and more effectively.

Yasmin Sharbaf

What does the competitive landscape look like, and how do you differentiate?

Tracy Hazzard

The short answer is that unlike our competitors, we are focused on only the most active and engaged podcasters in the community. We are not here to have the largest numbers of podfaded subscribers or the tiny fraction of high earners only. We want the active ones with consistent success. The market is segmented into three basic verticals: production, hosting, and advertising. Almost all of our competitors stay within one vertical or maybe cross into a second. We encompass all three verticals and have even added two morerecording and promotion servicespredominantly available from only really small resources. By creating the most comprehensive platform, we empower our clients and subscribers to have one convenient login, receive ongoing strategic coaching and mentorship, and affordable access to podcasting success. Podetize has a half-decade track record of proven results with more than 1,000 shows successfully launched to date.

Yasmin Sharbaf

How do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?

Tracy Hazzard

We already invested our $745,000 Small Business Administration economic injury disaster loan money into new product development. We are now ready to launch and scale those additional products. We intend to use the capital raised to market those new product launches to grow our subscriber base substantially. Depending on how much is raised, we can 10x our client base within one year.

Yasmin Sharbaf

What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?

Tracy Hazzard

We lead by example! Investors should know that we walk the walk (and obviously talk the talk) right alongside our clients and the industry. My co-founder and I start a new podcast each year to test out the continued viability of our process and strategy. We are always researching and testing on behalf of our clients, so we can understand how to better serve, support, and improve their shows. We use our own process, team, and tools, so we can provide timely feedback, refinement, and strategic advice to clients at all stages. 

For our investors, that means our new podcast is just for them. Called “Worthy News & Notes,” this podcast will be available to only investors through the use of a private podcast feed from a special investor’s section on our website and through the Republic portal. It will keep them updated on our progress, the changes in the market, and our real-time view of the impact on our business and the industry. We believe that communication is essential to building trust and integrity into the investment process.

Yasmin Sharbaf

As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? Have you set any future goals for the company?

Tracy Hazzard

While the goal of many ventures is to get a high valuation acquisition, we are working toward first and foremost building a strong and sustainable business model and community. So when we are purchased, it will be because our continued model of operations will provide even more value post-acquisition. Tom Hazzard and I are challenged and excited by becoming the company of choice for independent podcasters in the industry, providing an alternative to the soon-to-be archaic broadcasting model. We are open to the future exit paths of acquisition, initial public offering, or continued private operation, and we plan to stay a part of that future to continue to bring stewardship and guidance to sustain the vision and outcome for our clients and the podcasting industry.

Yasmin Sharbaf

As a women-led company, what difficulties have you encountered working on Podetize? What advice would you give to women founders?

Tracy Hazzard

As one of the few women founders leading a seven-figure company in the podcasting industry, I am troubled by the focus on vanity metrics. Whether it has been investment firms focused only on user acquisition numbers regardless of subscriber traction and success or companies “buying” advertising to create a false sense of demand or the false overstatement of listener numbers prevalent by top players in the industry, the lack of focus on value creation and support for underserved value creators is extremely troubling. That is why I turned down other investment methods and selected equity crowdfunding for the ability to stay true to the vision of what we are building and to prove that actual value creation matters. 

My advice to other female founders is to play to your strengths and where you build the most value. Believe in yourself to carve your own path and pursue your vision with that strength at the core.

We look forward to seeing where Tracy and her team take the company. Podetize is currently raising on Republic.

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About: Yasmin Sharbaf

Yasmin is passionate about the intersection of business, art, and science. Prior to KingsCrowd, Yasmin worked on a cryptocurrency investing research project for Wellesley College Investment Office where she assessed the risks and rewards for university endowment investment into cryptocurrency. She has also previously worked in a neuroscience lab studying language and memory of songbirds. Yasmin’s dream is to make investing and financial education accessible to everyone. In her free time, Yasmin enjoys going on adventures, learning new languages, and exploring different cultures. Yasmin studied Neuroscience and Studio Art at Wellesley College.

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