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No More Brains Than You...

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(By Troy Price) If you’re reading this you are a go-getter and a person of intellectual curiosity capable of many great things. You may soon make a discovery, or cure, or innovation that changes the world. You may also be a person that will stop reading this article now and go catch up on the Marvel Cinematic Universe side of TikTok. That decision is up to you, but this article is intended to give you some points to consider as you plan your future.

To quote the Wizard of Oz in that amazing movie. He looked at the Scarecrow and said, “…Where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning – where [people]* go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts – and with no more brains than you have…” The lottery corporations and other gambling establishments express something similar by saying, “Someone is going [do something great]*, it may as well be you.” *I have updated the language for the purposes of this article.

This is not just personal-enrichment mumbo-jumbo or positive thinking, it is true. As the Wizard and the Lottery say, the people who make the breakthroughs of the future are just like the people who share the unboxing videos of their latest DVD purchase. The only difference is where they are dedicating their focus and the specific actions they are taking. In hopes to direct your focus and guide your actions towards doing something momentous, below is a case study of three people who have turned their ideas into something tangible. We will look at how Deedee, Survy, and Sean have built the Clever FM app and company. They are but one example of the many, many companies and services that we enjoy today, they just started recently (so their story is still fresh in their minds) and their story is interesting and relatable.

History Deedee was an avid podcast listener, Survy was a podcast producer, Sean owned a podcast production company. Coincidentally they came together and began talking about something they all noticed in the podcasting world. Podcasters and their listeners had to overcome barriers to build a solid community around their show. Those who chose to create a group/page/account on a social media platform were beholden to the algorithms and other limitations of the chosen platform. Those using more dedicated services like Discord, or other apps (even their own apps) ran the risk of alienating listeners (and hosts) who had just become comfortable with their podcasting app. They could easily be fearful of learning something even more technical. Deedee, Survy, and Sean began to talk about their ideas for a solution to this problem.

Product Based on their discussions and interviews they conducted with active podcasters and podcast fans they created an early version of the Clever FM app. It addressed three reoccurring concerns present in the podcast community - discovery, monetization, and engagement. It also included other features such as a podcast player and a listener analytics dashboard. In January 2021, they applied and were accepted for the Haas LAUNCH accelerator (based in Berkeley, California) and in later that year they applied and were accepted to the Techstar Music Accelerator. Their work with the accelerator helped them transform their app into an actual business. They determined their revenue model would include both fee-for-service (a monthly fee for access to advanced features) and revenue sharing with podcasters that choose to monetize their show through the app.

Once the app was released, they were able to monitor usage and quickly developed a second version based on what they had learned from the field. This second version of the app was solidly based on the analytics from users of their first version. However, the second release did not gain the market share they had hoped.

Deedee, Survy and Sean went back to the drawing board and created a significantly revised third version. This version removed the player and the analytics features. They streamlined the app to offer more features of the podcaster’s community building experience and released it to the world in the summer of 2022.

I will report back in a few months to document their progress with version 3.

Summary How does that abbreviated history of Clever FM serve as a guide for you making your ideas become reality? There are three key takeaways that any future innovator should remember from this short story.

You should talk about your ideas. If Deedee, Survy, and Sean did not talk about their thoughts early on, nothing would have been achieved.

You should seek support to develop your ideas. Their future was impacted because they were part of the Haas LAUNCH and Techstar Music accelerators. If practical, you can too. You can also work with any local business incubator or entrepreneurial support organization near you, even when you just have an idea.

You should not stop with the first version of what you create. They did not start out saying, “You know, I think our third version of what we want to do is going to be great!” But they also did not rest when they had created the first version of their product. You should plan on frequent updates / revisions of whatever you create.

Now with that in mind… GO, DISCOVER, CURE, INNOVATE.

Troy Price is the co-founder of Front Porch Studios in Berea, Kentucky. He has been involved with podcasting for over a decade. Listen to his show “Podcasting Tips From The Front Porch” HERE.

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