SaaS for podcasting

Like
+ Add to

My guest today has created a much more modern solution for podcasters. I wish his company had been around when I started Mixergy over 10 years ago. I invited him here to talk about why he chose to build a SaaS in this space and how he’s grown it to over $1M ARR.

Craig Hewitt is the founder of Castos, podcast hosting and analytics.

The podcast is in all major apps, just search for Mixergy.
You can also use our RSS Feed RSS feed.

Craig Hewitt

Craig Hewitt

Castos

Craig Hewitt is the founder of Castos, podcast hosting and analytics.

roll-angle

Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. I’m laughing because Craig don’t I hear like, is it a child in the background?

Craig: There is, yeah, just right on, right on cue. We start recording in my, my nine-year-old in the next room, but yep.

Andrew: I heard that. I think

Craig: joys of remote work, right.

Andrew: Oh, we’re so keeping that in. Um, I’ve gotta, I’ve gotta geek out with you on software because I’ve been testing the software. I’m using it right now that I think eliminates that. But we’ll talk about that in, in a minute. First. I should introduce you. Um, Craig. Is the founder of Casto us.

What they do is basically everything to do with podcasting. I mean, they’ll host your podcast files. They’ll make it look nice on your website. They’ll give you a website and I just discovered also they’ll do editing services for you. They’ll do Trent, you do transcripts also as part of your service. Yeah.

Basically everything put in together. When people ask me, Andrew, who do you use to host your site? I don’t want to tell them, do not copy me. I’m legacy with some of this stuff, because we, we have to build a lot of what Castillo’s, uh, Craig’s company already has in it, because it didn’t exist when we started.

And so don’t copy me. Go look for more modern software. And I think Casos is that modern software. All right. Uh, I invited him here to talk about how he built it, especially as a non-developer and, um, and we can do it. Thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first is going to host your website, right? It’s called host Gator.

I’ll tell you later why you should go to hostgator.com/mixergy. And the second, when you ready to do email marketing now, see Casto is doing heavy email marketing. Maybe we should talk about this, uh, when you’re ready to do. I’m looking at your face by the way, Craig, because I feel like a lot of times you’re either happy with what I’m saying.

You’re like you do, what the hell are you talking about

Craig: No.

Andrew: marketing. It quit insulting me. We just met.

Craig: I mean, it it’s, it’s all a, it’s all like layers, right? Like I think everyone does a little bit of this is just how well.

Andrew: All right. I’ll say that my sponsor for email marketing is called send in blue. I’ll tell you later why, if you’re growing your email list, you want to know about send in blue.com/mixergy. All right. Okay. What’s your revenue.

Craig: Uh, we’re doing just under one and a half million ARR right now.

Andrew: Okay, impressive. Um, we were talking about the child in the background and how I’m now at a, we work now that I’m in Austin, Texas. I’ve kind of been moving from Airbnb’s to recording at. We work to my latest experiment, dude. Is this, where do you record? Cause you had trouble doing this.

Craig: Most of the time I work from home, I, I recorded my office at home most, all the time. Um, just for lack of a better place, but it’s pretty good. Like, it sounds pretty good. And it’s usually pretty quiet.

Andrew: Here’s my experiment. I’ve been recording from offices forever. I love working in officers on like most people, but I do not enjoy working out of these air. Um, well, definitely not have Airbnbs. And also I’m not enjoying working under this. We were, and I I’ve lately been very envious of people who can just go build their businesses and coffee shops.

I’m going through Austin here. And I see people sometimes with these whacked out set setups, like. two monitors that fold out of the laptop on the side, no exaggeration special stands for the iPad that goes along with it or the phone that goes. And I, I think that they’re a little whacked out.

I’d be much better off with just a simple computer, which is what I see a lot of people building their businesses on at these coffee shops. But I envy the fact that they could work remotely and I’m stuck in an office that I don’t enjoy here. So here’s my latest experiment yesterday. I said yes, to doing an interview with someone where they interview me about my book, stop asking questions.

And I said, I would like you to consider interviewing me outdoors. If it doesn’t work, you let me know and we’ll reschedule the, would you be willing to try it? She said, sure. And so I took my, my laptop. I took my mic stand. I took my microphone. I went to Mozart coffee here in Austin. I hooked up my mic, stand to their bench, to their, to their, um, picnic table.

Nobody cared. I connected my microphone. And then in order to have better, uh, sound, what I did was I used this app called we’ve talked about this on past interviews, crisp. It takes out all the random side notes noises. If you go to Crips crisps homepage, they say that their apple even get a crying kid off a regular mic, the one that’s built into a computer, I said, all right, game on people.

I set it up. I turned the whole thing on I’m sitting there at Mozart. And I literally said to people who are on the other side of my computer, can you please make noise to see if it comes on? Out of the noise came on. It was amazing. I think I’m going to record interviews from random coffee shops in the future with a few exceptions.

There might be some times where I need to be settled into an office, but that frees me up so much to go and be in the.

Craig: Yeah. I mean, I so, so we’ve always been a remote team and I’ve always worked from like a home office, but yeah, I mean, I’m becoming. Con, I don’t know if it’s contrarian, but, but similar to you, like, I want an office, I want a place I go to everyday. That is like my workplace. Right. And so that when I come home I’m home and when I’m at work, I’m at work.

And I think that that’s in real talk about like work-life balance of working remotely or working from home. Like it’s that separation that a lot of us miss that, that creates a lot of stress, right? Because your phone is right there in slack is on it and you just can, can never put it down. But I think like the times I’ve really worked at an office a lot.

It creates that separation. That gives me a lot more calm when I’m not working, but I love your idea of, of like bouncing around and I’ve used crisp. It’s amazing.

Andrew: I also find that when you work from an office, everyone else knows to leave you alone, that my kids sure. They understand. And they’re respectful if I’m working. There is this time when they need to interrupt. And if it could come at any moment, you can’t get lost in work. Same thing with my wife, she’ll come in and want to have a conversation.

I love her. I want to have conversations with her, but if I’m like focused on something, even if it’s just a chess game to get. You know, to have a few minutes of quiet, I don’t have conversations as a challenge. And that’s one of the issues with podcasting. I think that it has been an intense setup for a long time.

It doesn’t have to be, it doesn’t have to be that. It also, here’s another change that’s happening in podcasting. And you notice this like a cast dose. We used to think of podcasting as a way of replacing broadcast media and we did replace broadcast media broadcast radio. But more and more I’m finding people contact me and say, Andrew, I just want my team to hear what’s going on.

They’re listening to podcasts. Anyway. I don’t want to set up a whole video YouTube thing. I just want to update them. How do I do it without having this stuff leak outside of the company, or just be focused on our team? And that’s a hot new space.

Craig: It is. Yeah. And frankly, that’s where almost all of our energy is going these days is, is private podcasting. And specifically for companies to communicate internally, you know, so we work with, with a lot of companies that say the same thing, like, Hey, we’re, you know, we’re employing a lot more millennials now who just refuse to get on 1100 zoom calls a week and they don’t want to be strapped to their desk and, you know, on the schedule and they want to consume a bunch of information.

That’s all. Shitty SharePoint site or trapped in some kind of LMS that they never ever like engage. And so, Hey, why can’t we just take rip the audio out of all of that legacy content, put it in podcast format and distributed. But like you said, the big question is like security and access, Right.

How do you control, who has access to this new doesn’t?

And that those are the only people that, that can access And they can’t share it

Andrew: And you know what else?

Craig: of thing on Reddit.

Andrew: They don’t want to download another crappy app. That’s just for enterprise, what they want. In whatever app they’re listening to it on and whatever whacked out system, they want to be able to access it. Can you guys actually broadcast into Spotify?

Craig: Spotify?

is a unique beast in the podcasting world. They’re a very unique piece, but they’re the only ones that don’t allow like individual or external RSS feeds into their mobile app. But apple, overcast, Google, uh, all, all allow you. You know, paste in a private RSS feed. And that’s how, that’s one of the ways we power private podcasting.

We do have our own crappy mobile app. No, it’s not crappy. I think it’s wonderful. But for folks that don’t want to mess with that, or like there is security concern around private RSS feeds because they are shareable, you know? Um, and so we give folks the option, Hey, use our mobile app or use the private RSS feed because it does increase adoption a lot. Right.

The company podcast is Right. next to mixer G or whatever else you’re listening to. People are more likely to.

Andrew: Did you notice that, uh, Ben Thompson from Stratec Curry, he’s got a private PA uh, podcast in, uh, in Spotify. I don’t know how he’s done it, but if you try to hit play and you’re not a paid customer, well, this episode plays, uh, here and then the one underneath, it has a lock on it. It doesn’t play get access.

There’s a button that takes you to a website where I guess you can pay to do it. Pretty interesting stuff. So it’s coming into there to our,

Craig: is. I mean, I think they’re running all that through anchor, um, now, which is how you can charge money for content inside a

Andrew: his own thing.

Craig: Hmm.

Andrew: He might have, he might be building in which to me says that I think Spotify is on the verge of accepting this, of realizing that they don’t want to have, uh, just straight RSS feeds in their system because it’s probably too techie for them, but they do need something and basically.

You’re on the right track. The future is this, the future is people saying like my friend who’s in sales, he wants to train his salespeople. He wants them to hear good and bad sales calls that other sales people have on the team. Right. He doesn’t want them to be on a fricking zoom call staring at him while they’re looking at nothing to listen to some dude, do a zoom call.

He’d much rather go. I clip this thing. Here’s what I like about what he did. Here’s what I don’t like about it now. Here’s how you can do it a little bit better this week. Let’s go get them. Boom. That’s the answer. Alright, you got into this, not from a tech background. You’re a dude like, like everyone who’s listening to us now, you were just listening to podcasts.

Seeing people like build businesses and feeling like I want to be there. What are some of the podcasts you listened to?

Craig: Yeah.

I mean, it was, uh, it was like Rob walling on startups for the rest of us, pat Flynn, uh, tropical MBA guys. Uh, those were some of the first ones and yeah, just really got the bug. Like I can own my own time because I wasn’t sales before, so yeah, I don’t have a technical background, um, and was just like this, you know, I don’t want to be traveling all the time.

I don’t want to be away from my kids. I wanna own my own time and kind of. Continue this entrepreneurial kind of journey. Cause like in sales, I think a lot of salespeople are entrepreneurial, right? Cause they say like, Hey, I can go affect this and I can make it happen. I can earn a bunch of money and make a difference instead of just being straight salary.

And so yeah, I started my own podcast?

and saw really quickly like this. This is hard And there’s a lot of, uh, it’s called rogue startups. It’s still going. I podcast with a guy named Dave rotor. Um, and we just talked about entrepreneurship and growing our businesses, but, but real quickly saw, like, this is a lot right.

Like editing and software and all this kind of stuff. And that’s when we started our, our services business.

Andrew: And so the first thing you said was I’m going to do all that backend work for our clients. All they have to do is get on a mic and record, send me the file. I’ll take it over from there.

Craig: Yep. That’s exactly it,

Andrew: That’s still a great business right now. Don’t you.

Craig: it really has. It really is. I mean, we talk internally a lot now. That like our, our sales, our sales guys. Now, when they have the conversation about this with the right type of person, you know, like you are like me is people that run small businesses. The value prop is so strong, right? You record send it to us to do everything else.

So you can focus on recording more content and growing your business, but not being like amateur audio engineer and all this kind of stuff that everyone has to do to record content. Yeah. Record send it to us. We do everything else.

Andrew: I haven’t, I’ve been loving Riverside. That’s another thing that allows me to record in a coffee shop because Riverside records my side of the conversation on my computer, your side on your computer. I don’t have to worry. Crappy internet connection from my hotspot and phone ruining the recording that I have a view, right?

It’s recording on your computer. It’s crisp. It’s great. Um, and then there backups everywhere. And so the other benefit of that is we’ve switched to that. And now I can say to our editor, can you just grab it off Riverside? I don’t even have to upload it to Google drive anymore. It’s just sitting right there.

I love that you guys use the Riverside a lot. Do your clients use it?

Craig: Yeah, we use squad casts. Um, but, but it’s a similar kind of kind of product. Um, yeah, we use it?

all the time. We have a bunch of clients that use Riverside and know the folks at both places. There’ll be other, both great tools.

Andrew: So, um, when you decided that you were going to do this as a service, how’d you get your first customers?

Craig: Yeah. I was just kind of like my, my very small network at the time. You know, people I knew that were in the kind of bootstrap startup space and had podcasts already, and I just approached them and said, Hey, I’m doing this thing. Are you interested in, you know, I’ll do it For free for the first one. And they said, yeah, free is great.

And then we did it and they said, oh, but this is great. And you know, so we charged, I think 300 bucks. A month at the time,

Andrew: many episodes?

Craig: for like weekly episodes? So like for, for a week,

Andrew: Okay. And so I like what you did there. You didn’t go to people who didn’t have a podcast and say, you should do a podcast. You went to people who knew how painful it was and said, don’t worry, don’t trust some dude on Upwork. I’ll do it for you. And then were you editing it?

Craig: Yeah, totally. Cause I still had the day job I was doing it?

you know, nights and weekends for a few months. And then we got, you know, a handful of customers pretty quick was able to hire our first audio editor and show note writer. And that person turned in and she wanted to show, note writers turned into like the person that kind of runs that whole side of the business now.

Andrew: What’s that business called?

Craig: yeah, it’s inside cast as we call it. Cast does productions now. So it’s, it’s kind of our professional services.

Andrew: And so you’re doing this and larger, you’re able to sell to your friends because you did medical device sales. I’ve always admired car salespeople. What I should have realized is people who are selling in the medical space are even better because you’re walking into somebody’s office. Right? Don’t talk to me about one of your, like, what it was like to sell there.

Bring me into that world.

Craig: Yeah. I mean, the thing, the thing that I never appreciated until now really is like in sales, there are several different types of sales people that can sell in different environments. Right. There’s really transactional salespeople. Like, Hey, I’m selling. A hundred dollars a month thing, and I’m going to get on 10 calls a day and close eight of them.

And that’s, that’s great. And then there are, uh, there’s a couple of stakeholders and this is going to be like a four week sales cycle. And then there are ones like we did ditches. Like I’m going to be working on this account for a year before you even have a chance to reply to like an RFP or something.

And then there’s doctors and hospitals and insurance providers as different stakeholders, you have to manage all of those. And so like, I think for me and. Salespeople in general, as we’re looking to, this is an aside, this is not the question you asked, but like, as you’re looking to hire salespeople, you need to ask like, what kind of sale are we doing?

And is the person that I’m recruiting the right kind of mindset instead of experience to match up with that. Um, but, but to answer your question more directly, like it, it was a super long sales process, um, and, and a lot of different stakeholders that had really different priorities. Um, And so it was really good training ground to understand those super complex deals because now, like, especially selling into these large businesses, we have a similar thing, you know, we have it security, you know, with their concern and then the content folks in the C-suite all with their different, you know, sets of priorities and interests and, and kind of managing and coordinating those is all, is all really important.

But, um, yeah, I mean, I think. Sales is the best training ground for entrepreneurship, because you get like a little bit of that experimentation of like independence within a big corporation that can support you. Um, it’s kind of the best of both worlds.

Andrew: My first company, I just went and took some time off, but then it’s part of the time off. I wanted to see what other organizations, sales, um, meetings and sales process where like I joined Mary Kay. I was a Mary Kay lady. They get the whole box of cosmetics and everything. And the reason I did it was I wanted to go to the meetings.

I wanted to see how they train people who are not salespeople just to sell. And one of the things that stood out for me, The way that this woman, uh, Kim VU was running her sales meetings, it was motivational, it was educational. She was teaching them. She was encouraging them. She was giving them these like, um, goals to hit, but also little rewards that I never appreciated until I got in there.

Like, why don’t you just give me. Well, there’s something in the sales meeting that makes that reward significant that you’re chasing it anyway. It was, it was eyeopening. I definitely did not do my sales meetings nearly as well as she did hers. And I started to learn. One of the things that you took away from selling was the national sales meeting being incredibly valuable.

What happened at a sales meeting when you were doing medical?

Craig: Yeah. I think that, that, like you’re talking about it was that time where everybody comes together, here’s from the president of the sales group. Okay. This is the thing, right. This quarter, or this year, we’re going to be pushing this product or this initiative. And like, I think about it now, especially like we’re a distributed team.

It’s sometimes it’s challenging for me to clearly articulate to everyone, Hey, this quarter, this is the thing, you know? And so like I took away from our sales meetings. The importance of that messaging internally and for people to rally around like a central thing that we all should be focusing on because like when, when we did it then, and when we do it now, it’s really powerful for everyone to be kind of rowing in that same direction.

And when you don’t, then everyone has their kind of disparate set of priorities that they think are, are like the most important things. And oftentimes it’s not what we, as like the founder or the leader, um, think is the most important thing, but it’s our fault because we’re not articulating that in a really kind of structured.

Andrew: What’s

Craig: And so that was

Andrew: focus now.

Craig: yeah. Our big thing is private podcasting now.

Andrew: Uh, okay. So you need all the sales teams to know that, and I’m assuming part of it is so that even if someone’s signing up, who’s not. In a business that needs it. If they’ve got an email address of a company that might need it, you want to be aware, is that it? Or what else?

Craig: I mean, it’s, it’s like for us now, it’s, it’s everything. It’s product, it’s sales, it’s marketing it’s even support. Right. Cause we’re onboarding like enterprises. Customers now. So it’s, it’s, it’s cool that we have this one kind of north star and literally everyone in the company is able to help work towards it.

Um, and like next quarter it might be something different, but, but like, probably not. Cause, cause as you said, like this is like we’re so early with this. It does. It’s just the most innovative companies are starting to think about this, but I think in five years, Everyone that has an LMS or a SharePoint site, we’ll have a podcast as a way to communicate with our employees.

And so we’re, we’re excited to be on the, on the kind of front edge of this.

Andrew: All right. So you’re doing your own podcast. You then started editing other people’s podcasts, and then you saw that there was a plugin available that you wanted to buy. How did you end up considering.

Craig: Yeah, I mean, it’s serendipitous, right? Like one of our customers, uh, for the editing service came to me and said, he’s, you know, his name’s Brad tuner. He’s the founder of delicious brains, like a big kind of WordPress plugin shop. And he came to me and said, Hey, you know, the, the guy that built this seriously simple podcasting plugin is going to work at automatic.

And he’s going to look into sell the plugin. Um, no you’ve wanted to get into a product for awhile. You should really think about. And so I did, and it was, you know, price was right. Um, and it just needed to build like the kind of SAS integration with it. And so yeah, we acquired the plugin and, and built the, built the first version of What is now cast us, um, to integrate with that for folks to manage their podcasts from their WordPress site.

But, but, you know, have their files hosted externally.

Andrew: What did it do? This was called seriously simple podcasting, the plug. And it still is, I think, available in the plugin store. What is it?

Craig: Yeah. So it does a couple things. One, it?

embeds a player automatically

Andrew: I mean, sorry. When you, when you created, when you bought it, what did it do? It had the

Craig: yeah. Yeah. It has the player and it creates an RSS feed. Uh that’s based on your WordPress site. So a lot of folks say like, Hey, I don’t want my RSS feed based on Libsyn or simple cuss or something. I don’t own it.

I want it. Uh, and so folks could go publish content, have a player.

and manage their RSS feed. And so what we did is we then connected it to like the SAS app so that folks could do all that stuff, but also have the files hosted externally. And so that was the first version of what is now cast us.

Andrew: because the problem with hosting the files on the WordPress site is. It slows down the site. It increases the price of hosting your WordPress site needlessly. Right.

Craig: Yep.

Andrew: And what else was there anything else?

Craig: Yeah. I mean, a lot of, a lot of good hosting will just shut you down. Right? If you’re hosted on WP engine or something like that, they’ll say, Hey, your bandwidth has been, you know, whatever we’re we’re we’re rate-limiting you or throttling you or whatever. Yeah. And so like in the first version that was about it.

And at this point, like we have a bunch of integrations and way to extend And repurpose your content that hosting on Castro’s a lot more, a lot more valuable than just the WordPress integration, but it was a really cool way to get started. Cause I mean, we had dozens of customers our first day without any kind of email marketing or any kind of massive like launch campaigns.

Like we just, the plugin continues to be a fantastic Legion source for us. Um,

Andrew: And credit right from the beginning. Your vision was, I’m going to take this plugin and I’m going to add the one thing that it need, which is hosting of the files off of the WordPress hosting. Right. Okay. Right. Let me take a moment. Talk about my first sponsor. It’s actually a service that hosts WordPress sites.

It’s called the host Gator. Craig, let me ask you this. If you were starting today and I gave you a host Gator WordPress site, what would you create? How would you get started? Your guy wanted to be an entrepreneur you’re starting today. You got nothing but that

Craig: yeah.

that’s a really good question. I think I’m biased, but I think like the productized service model is great because literally all You need is a website, a way to connect to Stripe. And now frickin Stripe has their own forms. You could just send someone to Stripe checkout, form, and Zumiez, get some good marketing copy on there and start like an SEO agency or, you know copywriting agency.

That’s, that’s what I would do just cause I’m not a developer and I can sell my on time.

Andrew: You know what I’ve seen someone else do. The guy who produced my podcast. Jeremy Weiss. He created a company called rise 25. And what they do is they will do the whole podcast for the company. So you can imagine if there’s a, a software company that wants to show how their customers are using their software and what kind of things their kinds of customers are doing, they don’t want to do the interview themselves.

They just outsource it to them. That’s what you’re talking about. Any kind of service that somebody would do for themselves in their business. That’s not core to their business. You can outsource. All right. I love that product. I service, whether it’s that idea or anything else, when you need a website hosted, if you go to hostgator.com/mixergy, you’ll get an even lower price than HostGator already charges.

And frankly, they’re already affordable. So you’re going to get a lower price, great service. And frankly, you’ll be doing me a solid because I get credit every time you go over there. And boy, I’m glad that people haven’t gone over there. hostgator.com/mixergy. You had that plugin you now needed to go host is hosting.

Was it as simple as just having somebody connected into like an AWS, uh, account or what.

Craig: Yeah. I mean, that’s what that’s what we did is we kind of just abstracted away, AWS and S3 and gave folks a. To store their files. So yeah, you know, you, you have your WordPress site sign up for Castile’s account, get your API key connected there. Then when you upload the files, instead of being hosted locally on your WordPress site, they’re hosted on our, our infrastructure.

Andrew: what you’re doing. That seems fairly straightforward. Was it as easy as it sounds to build that first version?

Craig: Yeah.

I mean, I think it’s all the other stuff, right. And this is five years ago now. So like a lot of things, even around like Stripe wasn’t as sophisticated as it is now, you know, we’re, we’re built on Laravel and so like usernames and passwords and all of this stuff, like it’s just stuff you have to build, you know, like as my first real product.

Um, so I learned a lot about how to work with developers. Absolutely amazing developer that we worked with for a long time. Um, that was really patient with me as I was learning how to, he was a friend of the guy that we bought the plugin from his name’s Jonathan Boston Jer. Um, yeah, it was just a referral, you know, we bought the plug and I said, Hey man, like I need a developer.

Do you know anybody? He’s like, yeah. I talked to my friend, Jonathan, um, and

Andrew: he’s been with you since.

Craig: Yeah, he left last year, um, decided he didn’t want to write code anymore. And, um, so that’s cool. He went and is doing something kind of related but different. And so it was glad to glad to have him with us as long as we did it was great.

Andrew: you told our producer that was a bitter pill. How did you make the transition?

Craig: Uh, I think we’re still figuring it out to be honest, like when you lose someone that’s that much a leader, you know, in the company, um, to replace them as. Maybe you never, like, I don’t know, never is a strong word, but like maybe you never really replaced them. Like you can get all these different pieces in place, but he Was such a big part of, of what we did.

And I think it’s just like taking. My inadequacies and, and kind of covering them up and compensating for them, um, is, is a lot of the value that, that I saw. And so now, like we’ve had to up our game in terms of like how we run product and how we manage development, sprints and things like that. Um, because he was able to manage so much of that.

Andrew: Was it in Cape town too.

Craig: Yeah.

Andrew: And so you working totally remotely with them.

Craig: Yeah, we had not met for like the first two and a half years. Yeah.

Andrew: And so when you’re working with him, I guess a lot of it is just trusting him to build what you’re, what you’ve got in mind, having him help coach out what you’re looking for, how much of the business was him, helping you figure out what you needed and what you want.

Craig: How much? I mean, it’s a pretty substantial part. I mean, you’re a non-technical founder, it’s your first time working with developers? Like, uh, it’s a huge learning curve to say, like, I need to understand how to like speak their language and how to spec out new features and things like that. And I think you either need a really senior developer. That’s able to put you in your place and ask you for the things that you need, um, or you have to level up and, and kind of learn that.

Uh, and we did, we did a bit of both.

Andrew: All right. So for a long time you were getting your customers from that WordPress plugin, they don’t call it a store. What do they call it? They, um, that marketplace, the repository. I hate that they use that name. That sounds like suppository. It doesn’t sound at all friendly. Um, but there are little apps that big app store actually we’re sending you customers.

Why did you say. I’m going to build a standalone product for people who have no WordPress need. How did you know what led you to think about that? That was a big.

Craig: Yeah. I mean, we had a lot of folks coming to us from outside of the WordPress ecosystem saying like, Hey, what’d you have looks interesting, but I don’t use WordPress. Can we, can we use cast? Does if we don’t use WordPress And for the first like eight or nine months, the answer was no. And we’ve got enough of that interest, uh, to where we said, yep, no problem.

And so now you can use by itself, which is about half of our customers and about half come from work.

Andrew: And when you’re doing that, I guess what my big. Why’d you think that there was room for another player in that market? I think for a long time, Libsyn had the marketplace locked up, they lost it. Right. And then there were competitors, but it didn’t, it felt like a, like a business that had enough competitors.

What was missing in the space?

Craig: Yeah. I mean, I think that, like you mentioned Lipson, They’re like, I love them right there. They’re a great competitor. I know I do. I do. Cause I mean like they just haven’t innovated in

Andrew: dude, their logo is still a podcast and iPod. There hasn’t been an iPod in years. I’m going to go and check it out right now. They’re publicly traded company. There’s I actually asked someone who was building a business. I said he was a guy who came out of Sequoia, who came over to my house in San Francisco.

And he said, Andrew, here’s this vision that I have for the business. You told me what lifts his market cap was. I said, why don’t you just buy and Lipson’s market cap, and then add it into that, buy it, you know, at their market cap, he goes. something about a brand that brand is so damaged. It’s so connected to the past that it’s really hard to, to upgrade it.

And so there are milking mode. Um, there’s, I, I don’t mean to put them down, but let’s be honest about them.

Craig: Yeah, no. And I think that like a, and the other kind of big player in this space that I would put in the same boat as blueberry. Right. And they’re, uh, in a lot of ways, initially, a really direct competitor because they also have a WordPress plugin that does a lot of the same things as ours does. And so saw those two.

And at the time, like the only really good competitor then was simple cast. And I was like, man, like simple cast is great, but like that, they’re not going to take all of Libsyn and blueberries market share. Um, but, but I mean, honestly, like I. I feel for the, like the CEO and leadership and, and those two companies, because like, yeah, they they’ve been around a long time and they’re at this, you know, 10 to 15 year old kind of range where they have to like reinvent themselves.

And I can imagine that’s really hard. Like we’re, we’re five years old or so, and, and like still just growing organically. Yeah. And everything I can imagine that it’s challenging. You know, you look at like Microsoft, right? Like Microsoft had to reinvent themselves in the last few years. And it’s just a big amount of effort to do that versus yeah.

In maintenance mode, kind of, you know, let, let anything’s chugging along on your, your kind of legacy name.

Andrew: No, you know what I, here’s what I think Lipson should do. Let’s talk a little bit about it. They should, they’ve got a hundred million dollar market cap. They should buy a good podcast platform. That’s struggling that has a brand new name and no customers acquire that habit as a standalone product, invest their attention in that.

And then, um, and then maybe even use that their, their brand. But they’re under a hundred million dollars. There are people who raise, who raise more than that in Silicon valley. Right.

Craig: Yeah.

Andrew: And then they have these legacy clients on their platform that I feel bad for. Like Tim Ferris, I think is still on their plan.

Craig: Yeah, I think that, I mean, one of the reasons we raised money initially is just because there is so much M and a and investment going on in the space, Right,

Spotify gobbling up these guys and Amazon gobbling at those guys that like, something like that will happen. So, you know, people see the. Just the user base and the market penetration of Libsyn and blueberry.

I mean, the one that blows my mind is SoundCloud, you know, to told you when we got started, SoundCloud was a huge, uh, threat, right, And now like that Spotify and Spotify just executed, I think is what it was. But like five years ago, SoundCloud should have just started dominating because they actually have a really slick platform and they could have just tweaked it a little bit for podcasting and they could be Spotify.

Andrew: right, exactly. You know, who else has a chance and is not doing anything? It’s YouTube, YouTube. If they had just like, they have YouTube music as a standalone product, if they created YouTube podcasts as a standalone product, that turns every content that they have on there into a podcast. But for some reason they’ve chosen not to do it.

They do say that they, they basically have that experience in YouTube. If you turn off the app, you know, just play it in the background and premium members can do it. That’s not the same. That’s not the same thing. They could dominate the space by saying everyone gets to use this in the background and now let’s charge.

Well, they’re not never going to charge for uploading. Let’s just let people upload. And they also have the ad department that could sell them. To background, but they’re just not there. And none of these players scared you away. None of the, the legacy players that had established connections, none of the new players that were coming in, and none of the ones that could have transitioned properly didn’t scare you away because,

Craig: No. I mean, I, I saw it as opportunity, right? Like you, you go and you see like Rob walling talks about like go into an industry with a hated established competitor. Right. And that’s, that’s what he did, right. With drip against Infusionsoft and Marketo in those. And that’s. I mean at the time people didn’t hate Libsyn, but like I just saw from a product perspective like that we can do better than this.

Right. And, and I think we have, and, you know, uh, I think a lot of our successes from just having a better product and, and folks finding out about it.

Andrew: Alright, let me talk about my second sponsor. It’s email marketing company send in blue or marketing automation, I guess is the way they probably prefer that. I talk about them. They went into this, this hated space, email mark. I’m going to say that it’s their sponsor. I don’t know them well enough to like rag on their competitors, but they’ve got competitors who either don’t do any marketing automation, which means if you sign up to their lists, you get, you get the same emails, whether you bought from the email before or not.

So it’s like buy, buy, buy. What I bought from you do just switch it off. Or in order to do that, you have to pay extra because now you have to keep people on two different lists or God knows what send them blue said, you know what we’re going to do. Marketing automation is going to be done just right. And there’s another problem with email marketing, which is you sign up for free or low price.

And then when your email list gets big, they ratchet up the price and then you’re stuck just like I’m stuck in an, in a podcasting. And so you’re stuck and you go, all right, I’m just going to pay, send in blue, says you’re not going to be stuck with us. We’re going to keep it low in the beginning. And we’re going to keep it low later on.

And we’re going to keep it low, low, low, because it doesn’t cost that much to send out email. I had no Kagan on here. He created an email competitor. He said, do you know how much cost to send out? It’s nothing it’s insignificant. So it’s all upside, but once they got you locked in, they got you locked in anyway, send them blue will not do that to you.

You’re going to see all the features that you want and expect that a marketing automation and some that you didn’t even know existed, but you’re going to love, and they do it at a low price. If you want an even lower price, they’re going to take off a big chunk of your first three months and keep it low forever.

If you use my. Go to send in blue.com/mix would be sent. You may not have heard of them. A lot of my guests have not heard of them, but they’re actually used by 175,000 users all over the world. Here it is. Send in blue.com/mixergy. All right. Um, by the way, the competitor, here’s the other thing that, that lives in kudu.

I don’t mean to talk about them, but people do not copy me. Just copy Craig, frankly. Go test it. The gold. Well, you know what, here’s what you should do. Go look at the audio player that they have a is, and look at the audio player that I could have. If I was using Libsyn, I don’t, I ended up using then. Cause I can’t deal with their, their stuff.

That gives you a sense of like how much care Craig’s team puts into their stuff versus the competition. But the competition, what they could do is say we’re just going to milk. Andrew let’s charge him 500 bucks. I wouldn’t leave. They charged me 500 bucks a month, charging me 40 bucks a month ago. Who cares?

Uh, all right. I liked that. You said I’m going to go into a space where people hate, look at the anger that I’ve got and I’m a customer of theirs, and I’m telling you, they give me a low price. You’re you’re a hundred percent, right. I totally get it. All right. You also had to go out and start now to do some, some marketing yourself.

What worked so beyond the WordPress community, what helped you get.

Craig: Yeah. I mean, we’ve always been big on content marketing and, uh, fortunately have been able to carry a lot of that, that we’ve been doing for six or seven years. Right. Since I started the product, I service a lot of that, you know, it’s, it’s in podcasting. And so a lot of that comes of. And domain, uh, you know, kind of reputation and stuff like that still carries over for us.

And so content marketing is a lot of what drives what we do now. Um, and, and is probably our biggest active form of, of like client acquisition. Um, we do a little bit of paid on, on Google, but, but not a lot. Yeah.

Andrew: I feel like one of the challenges you have is that you are not building up a big name for your. Like you’re, you’re active. You’re speaking out. But you talk about like Rob walling. You’re not as known as Rob walling, for example, right.

Craig: Yeah.

Andrew: Or Justin Jackson. I don’t know why he doesn’t even seem like a big mouth, but he gets a lot of attention.

Why do you, why do you think that is.

Craig: Um, yeah, I think that some people are just better at promoting themselves than running their business. Um, and I’m not saying that about either either of those guys, but, but I think that, I think that’s just how it is. Um, and. Uh, it’s just not what I want to do. You know, like I, I started this too to kind of control my own life and work, work life and what I spend time on.

And, and it’s, it’s maybe a little surprising that like, I run a podcasting company and I love podcasting. I love doing stuff like this. Like, it’s great. But like, I don’t want to like, you know, live stream YouTube about me writing, marketing copy or something like that. Like a lot of people I do, like, it’s just not me. Right.

So I would much, rather than. Focus internally on our team and helping the people on our team, like perform their best and get the most out of What they’re doing than me be the figurehead of the brand. Because like, it’s also just not transferable, right? Like I will not run this company forever. And so like Casos needs to have a much bigger and better name than me, uh, because ultimately like it’s, it’s just, it’s, it’s better for the company.

Long-term and it’s just better leverage, right? Like if I can spend 50% of my day helping our team perform. That’s 15 people times the amount of, kind of output that we can get, um, versus me doing it just myself.

Andrew: What about this? I do see your content, but I’m looking at one of your big pod-casters is trash tastes. Right? Do you know them?

Craig: Yup.

Andrew: It’s an animate podcast, exploring anime, mag, uh, manga, and a bunch of. I don’t see castoffs on their site at all. There’s no way to know that they’re trusting you. And so I might want to trust, oh, I guess in the player and the audio player, there’s a little thing there.

You’re not heavy handed with your, with your promotion.

Craig: Yeah. I mean, I think like if you look at our player or a built-in websites that come with every podcast, like we could want to have a little mention of us and we do link back to. To our domain from the player and everything like that. But, um, you know, we’re not freemium. Like I think if you’re free, like anchor, you can do more of that and get away with it.

But like people pay us money to, to use our service. And so, like, we don’t want to be really heavy handed on, on our branding on someone else’s turf. You know, we, we hope and do see a lot of people say, Hey, you know, I use castles, you should check them out. And like that word of mouth is really strong, especially in the podcasting space.

I think a lot of the kind of creator economy, that word of mouth is really strong because a lot of folks are kind of just figuring all this shit out for the first time. And so relying on what a trusted person kind of has to say and recommends is, uh, just goes a long way, like as opposed to in a B2B setting, I think it is a little more objective.

Andrew: What do you do on the B2B side? Is it still content I’m looking at you on SEMrush to get a sense of what your top, uh, content is, and it

Craig: Yeah. I mean, we, we, it’s a it’s, it’s a bit challenging, frankly. Like the private podcasting for companies is such a new thing that like the search volume for it is really low. Right. We rank really high for a lot of those, those keywords, the ones that we can figure out at least. Um, but. We it, frankly, it’s like the big problem we have is driving awareness of this thing of private podcasting as a communications tool for companies.

And, um, we’re trying to figure it out. We don’t, we don’t have a great answer on, on like the absolute best way to do that. Like I think content a little bit, I think, um, educational. Things like, you know, webinars and LinkedIn events and things like that would be really helpful. And just getting in front of, you know, folks in learning and development and HR in inside these organizations say like, Hey, the way you’ve been communicating and engaging with your employees, like, isn’t the only way, not that it’s better or worse than, than what we do is, but maybe like adding podcasting to the mix to say like.

Hey, when I want to send a message, It can be an email.

It can be, uh, you know, a thing in our LMS. It can be a document or a SharePoint site, or it could be a podcast episode. Um, and so I think just educating the market is frankly like the big challenge we have and we’re attacking it from a few different perspectives at this point.

Andrew: I think one of the problems is that it’s still challenging to create a podcast, but it’s getting easier. Right? We talked about Riverside swabbed cast. They make it easier to do it. Eliminating a background. Noise is getting easier. I remember going into. Some people’s offices and they had a whole podcast studios.

How, you know, forget it. Some people’s offices. I want to know a Kagan’s house. As soon as we get in, he’s got a beautiful house here in Austin. He says to my kids, go run around the house, go look, go look around. Just don’t touch the walls. No Kagan. The founder of AppSumo very concerned. Kids should not touch walls.

And I’m with him. I hate when. But they wander into this one room. It’s a whole fucking podcast studio. You hit a button. The whole thing is lit up properly. It’s all

Craig: Oh, that’s

Andrew: properly, right? Uh, Neville, Madora the copywriter. He’s got that set up too. I think that it’s intimidating to have that and I don’t think that’s going to be necessary for much longer.

I mean, the fact that I’m out there in the world is a good example of what’s.

Craig: Yeah. I agree. And especially like, you know, this is a highly produced show and it needs to be because you’re reaching a mass audience, but yeah. Me talking to our team of 15 people. Like I plug my iPhone into my headset and I talked for five minutes and I upload it and that’s it like, there’s no editing, there’s no EKU and normalization all has audio engineering that we do because it’s just like me talking to you down the hall, but in podcast.

And that’s, that’s what we try to relate to folks. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You don’t have to have a $500. Um, you need a little bit, right. To make it sound good and to make it easy, but, but it doesn’t need to be nearly the level that, that you’re talking about or that a lot of conventional podcasts are produced that

Andrew: Yeah. I don’t even know that you have to give up on leveling. Like, one of the things I’m noticing with Riverside is once the thing is done, they say, do you want to use our magic editor? The magic editor will automatically adjust volume. I’m thinking we’re seeing more and more of that. I use the script, um, Andrew Mason’s company, they do automatic volume leveling, which is so helpful.

They’re going to now. At a feature that takes the echo out of people’s echo-y rooms, which drives me fricking nuts. Did we, we offered to buy your microphone. You have one, right? What do you have the Samson cue to you? Something I could see that on my screen

Craig: Yep. That’s exactly it.

Andrew: I saw that you plugged into a good migraine.

That’s not even going to be necessary soon.

Craig: Yeah. I mean, I think even, even like the phone, the headphones that come with your phone are like 80% as good as you need. And I agree, I think soon we’ll be able to just pop our ear pod AirPods in and just go.

Andrew: I think they’re, I think they’re 80% except when the other 20% happens, it’s total disaster. And the other 20% is if somebody has long hair, it just goes right on the mic. It drives everybody crazy. And the person doesn’t hear that happening to themselves. Or if they have a big collar, forget it. And they always tell you, no, no, I’m not doing anything.

Yes. You don’t hear it. But trust me, I’m not just trying to be a jerk here. Um, you don’t have a technical co-founder. Do you ever feel like maybe you should bring somebody in at that role? Do you feel like maybe if, uh, if you had that the business would go on a different track?

Craig: I, if I had it to do over again, I a hundred percent would, um, I think we’re too far along now to do that. Um, but you know, if I ever do this again, I a hundred percent will have a technical

Andrew: Yeah, Jonathan Boston, ger, am I pronouncing his name? I .

Craig: Yeah.

Andrew: That that dude is such a perfect fit for you because doesn’t, he, I guess now he’s running a WordPress development agency, right. Or plug.

Craig: He works for them. Yeah. He’s kind of like developer advocate, Uh, educator. Yeah.

Andrew: I thought he was, he was building it for them. I see.

Craig: Yeah. Yup.

Andrew: Yeah. All right. Where do you think the future is? Let’s talk future podcasting here in the future of Castro’s in that space.

What do you think.

Craig: Yeah,

I think in the near term, say the next 24 months, uh, it’s just continuing to see the, the penetration of private podcasting, both for the kind of maker, crowd courses, online communities to deliver that content to their members and for companies to communicate internally. Um, and then I think the thing that we see past that is, uh, what we call dynamic RSS.

So each individual person receives different content depending on characteristics and tags and attributes of those people. So like you were talking about sending blue and, you know, marketing automation is like, Hey, they know that Andrew is a customer. I’m going to send him this email. Instead of I’m going to send this other one to someone else.

Like the same idea will exist in podcasting. And we’re starting to work on that a little bit now. Um, especially as it relates to private party,

Andrew: let’s dig into that one. Wait, that’s a great point. So for example, if somebody is into say more of the bootstrappy companies that I interview. They should get just that. And not necessarily all the other stuff, it would be customized to them. Ideally, it would be also, if they’re not listening to that interview to like five interviews on a topic, the RSS should automatically adjust for it and say, you know what?

Every time Andrew interviews a copywriter, this person tunes out doesn’t play, we should adjust. You think you could do that within the confines of these apps.

Craig: This is the problem, Right. And this is where platforms, like you mentioned YouTube, where they control the whole kind of stack, Right.

Storage, distribution ads, listening. Spotify is in the same boat where they have a con a controlled, closed ecosystem where they get all of that feedback. But conventional podcasting and the RSS feed is so kind of distributed in asynchronous to where, like you publish in the podcast app on my phone, picks it up.

I download you. Don’t ever get that feedback loop to lip center Castro’s or whatever about the listening behavior and the app developers for privacy reasons. Don’t want to give that up either. Um, and so for conventional podcasts, Today at least, no, we can’t for private podcasting. We definitely can. And, and we, we do gather some of that data and we’re able to analyze kind of listening behaviors of individual private subscribers to private podcasts.

Um, and if you’re using our mobile app, it’s even better. Cause we have like playback time and stuff. So you can say like, Ooh, Andrew, listen to this 35 minute episode for six minutes. Probably wasn’t that into it. So yeah, I thought all of this dynamic RSSP. Today and the way that RSS feeds are is, um, is kind of only in the realm of, of private podcasting

Andrew: I think also that we’re going to start to see podcasts being created in. And I wonder if you, a cast outs are going to do things like allow somebody to turn their Twitter space into a podcast that feels like such a natural I’m listening to a, this one NFT podcast, not one NFT. Twitter spaces thing that goes on every day when I drive back from dropping my kids off at school and I listened for a little bit, but I’m not always in the mood to listen.

I wish I could just play it whenever I want it to. And they’re creating all that content already. They just need to level their audio. Cause these guys have the whack, the most whacked out set of microphones and then just put it in a podcast feed and they get more exposure. What do you think of that? Do you think that’s part of what’s cool.

Craig: Yeah, I think that, I think that there’s some potential there. Uh, and like, I remember six or 12 months ago, everyone was like, clubhouse is going to be the next biggest thing and billion dollar company. Right. And it’s, I don’t know if it’s still in business. Right. But like, that’s the problem with Twitter spaces and social audio in general is like, it’s synchronous.

Right? You have to be live when They’re live. Um, whereas podcasting is totally asynchronous. You can listen to it whenever you want. Um, and I think that as folks are able to kind of harness that live experience, repurpose it later as, as a podcast episode, um, that that there’ll be successful and there’s no reason not to, right.

You’re recording that content. You might as well make it available to folks after the fact. Um, and, and those platforms just need to give tools like us, uh, an option to, to tie into that and let folks repurpose it as a podcast.

Andrew: They’re already, um, tools that are doing that, that are allowing creators to turn their Twitter spaces into, into recordable. But not yet submitting it to different podcast players. And that’s, that’s I think a missing piece. I think that’s a big opportunity. I wonder if that’s something you’d get into, like how many YouTubers could also do.

Turn their things into podcasts. The problem is that there’s not enough money in podcasting. So 10 YouTube, 10 podcast listeners are not worth as much as one YouTube listener, but you can imagine someone like Ali Abdullah who will, who has a million plus subscribers on YouTube. And some of his stuff is just, let me tell you about a book I read you don’t need the visuals for that.

You could imagine if he could just send the feed into you and you turn it into a podcast app for him or a podcast, a. Forum. It feels like that’s a win. I don’t know what else dream a little bit with me and then we’ll close it out with.

Craig: Yeah. I mean, I think that you mentioned like the podcasting market is not big enough. And I think that that’s, Um,

the perception of a lot of people. And I think that right now you’re right. But I think that the kinds of things that we’re talking about are expanding that market greatly. And so like, that’s where.

I have a lot of hope that like, we can be a really big company, um, because like podcasting is still pretty new, even though like, it’s, it’s really kind of in prime time, these days. Um, but, but to answer your question, the other thing that we’re thinking a lot about is like by directional engagement, right?

So like right now you talk, people, listen, there’s no way for them to participate in conversation. And so again, like in, in the realm of private podcasting, we’re talking about like a way for people to comment or reply in an audio format to, to your. And you include that in like a future episode. So those are some things that we’re thinking about.

That would be really cool. Like it makes, it makes it just a lot more dynamic and kind of multi-directional. It makes it a lot more like, like a blog, you know, which is the kind of analogy that a lot of people want to make of podcasting. Um, and I think that, that, that sense of like audience participation is really important, but it’s it’s how, how do we that logistically and make it manageable for you?

Because like, commenting can be, can be like really ugly sometimes. So like how to make that manageable for you

Andrew: a key for that is don’t make me listen to people’s comments, let me read them. And then I could quickly breeze through find the ones that I want to look at. All right. I think that when podcasting started, it was about how, how do we take over. The listeners who are listening to local radio, that’s done local radio is no longer the threat.

I know people are going to tell me the numbers are out there and blah, blah, blah. Okay. But that’s dead. That’s going down and it’s not, it’s not relevant in most of our lives and conversations. What was the last time you said, did you hear what that guy said on the radio? He shaped the way we’re taught now.

It hasn’t happened since like rush Limbaugh or something right now. I think the next step. To do two things. One is become ambient. So just like you might listen to music in the background, there needs to be more ambient options that we just listened to in the background. And it doesn’t matter if you pay attention to them or not with me, if you miss something, it might be an issue.

But with Joe Rogan, it’s not that big of an issue. That’s ambient. That’s. And then the other thing is more educational. There are a lot of people who learn more from audio books than from paper books, and they’re not being addressed yet online. There are a lot of people who learn more from a podcast that they listen to on their drive back then from a course that they watch when they get back to their office and that’s not being addressed.

All right. And I know that you guys are doing it at Castro’s. I really appreciate you coming on here and talking to me about this, the website for anyone who wants to go check it out is castros.com. Right?

Craig: Awesome. Thank you, Andrew.

Andrew: Thanks Greg. Thank you everyone.

Who should we feature on Mixergy? Let us know who you think would make a great interviewee.

x