I spoke to Anna Ratala, a co-Founder of Zvook and the former Founder of Slush in Singapore. Anna’s journey into the tech startup world was not pre-determined nor was it a straight line. After working at a SaaS company in Singapore and figuring out that tech was a tool to be utilized, Anna worked to build the Slush events in Singapore to great success.
She also realized that entrepreneurship was her calling and joined the second cohort of the Antler Startup Generator in Singapore. The 3 month Antler program is a good example of what entrepreneurial life is like. The program is hard and challenges participants to work together, learn new things and tests their ability to succeed under pressure. It is a cool filtering mechanism. If you can not put up with the intensity of the program, you are likely not cut out to be an entrepreneur, Anna believes.
As part of the program, Anna met a co-Founder (Malik Alimoekhamedov) and they are building a platform that helps match brands with podcasts. Essentially the platform is being built to help podcasts monetize and to help brands find and better target their desired audience. Anna and her team realized that podcasts and the entire audio content space was exploding rapidly…the number of listeners. Listeners are much more engaged than any other medium. Their observations show that the podcast medium is much more intimate than others and that listeners feel very close to the podcast hosts. Zvook’s research also shows that most people listen to the podcast throughout and rarely skip over anything.
Zvook’s aim is to build a sophisticated, tech-enabled platform to tightly match brands with podcasts based on the podcast’s tone of voice, word clouds, sentiment analysis, and other indicators. It is more than just the monetization. There has to be a good, fundamental fit and alignment. Unlike traditional radio which can easily be played in the background, podcasts are actively chosen by the listeners and this enhances the intimacy and helps build that relationship between the host and the listener. It is this intimacy that means that traditional advertising won’t work. There has to be a real fit and partnership between the show and the sponsor. This is vital to the success of both parties.
Podcasting is not a ‘reach’ media, it is an ‘engagement’ media. Brands are realizing this and are starting to think that “audio is the next video…”