Bootcamp catch up: VoxPop
By Kyra Piccione
Since the Soda Inc. NZ Startup Bootcamp several of the teams have gone on to do some impressive things. One of those teams, made up of Peter Fowler (Founder), Michelle Macaskill and Alan Smith, is VoxPop.
VoxPop enables radio and podcast listeners to directly engage with a brand using their voice, sounding like they are in the studio with the presenter. No more scratchy phone audio. Voice to text transcripts make it easy for producers to review contributions.
Peter entered the NZ Startup Bootcamp with his existing startup VoxPop but wanted a few teammates with different skill sets to make the most of the bootcamp. Soda set out to find teammates and connected Peter with marketing magician Michelle and financial wizard Alan.
Since the event, VoxPop has been making more sales and getting ready to take on the world of radio. We caught up with them recently to hear about their ever evolving adventure.
How is VoxPop doing? Sales? Numbers? Reach?
Peter: SciFri VoxPop has just launched in the past week. Despite it being early days, they are getting great results. We are about to begin another build for a U.S. public radio station and a prominent U.S. university has confirmed it has budget for a VoxPop platform for their podcast.
We have about 10 active inquiries from U.S. radio stations. Our brand is now mentioned on about 600 NPR stations across the U.S. daily and weekly through 1A and SciFri, and reaches an audience in excess of 5 million people. 1A's use in particular is prompting other shows and stations to contact us, and as SciFri settles in we expect this to compound interest.
As a team that was basically made up of strangers (having met only a few weeks before the event) how did you find working together and how did the Bootcamp build on your relationships?
Peter: Alan and Michelle are both consummate professionals and wonderful people to boot. They immersed themselves in the task at hand and we all got on extremely well and worked most effectively together, despite not knowing each other.
A highlight for me was our ability to calmly listen to each other and prioritise the tasks at hand, and produce excellent work. The team you have in a startup is one of the most important things, and I couldn't have asked for better people to work with.
Michelle: Because Peter was so receptive to new perspectives and ideas I think us being strangers was a bit of an advantage. Because Alan and I knew nothing about Peter's existing startup VoxPop, we had to learn everything - fast - which we did by completing draft deliverables before the event (this turned out to be a huge time advantage over the weekend).
Our skills were all very different but compatible - top points to Soda for that. I felt very lucky to have such talented people on my team - Peter with a fabulous idea and the nous to make it happen, and an excellent accountant in Alan who really made the numbers work for us and whose experience shone through in everything he did.
Alan: It was great working with Peter and Michelle, we all brought different skill sets and ideas on how to prepare for the workshop and how to execute our pitch. Peter was very open to new ideas and this made it much easier to offer new ideas and pull from past experiences to add value to the VoxPop team.
Have you all kept working together since? In what capacity?
Peter: Alan and Michelle are still taking an active interest in VoxPop. Michelle is an exceptional project manager and is helping move things along on a voluntary basis in exchange for start-up experience. I have indicated I will help her in her endeavors in the future. Alan is also providing great support and encouragement.
Michelle: Yes, we have all kept in touch. I am working with VoxPop at the moment a few hours a week.
Alan: After the workshops we did a skype call and decided to keep in contact via email until another skype call was warranted. Pete sends updates at least once a week as to where Voxpop is at and is very transparent and Michelle and I still want to be involved in the evolution of Voxpop.
Where to next – together and individually?
Peter: With the strength of some of the biggest US public radio brands behind us, we need to sell, sell, sell. We well and truly have market and product validation now.
Our seed funding finishes at the end of this year, so we are looking at ways of funding after this to accelerate our sales and marketing in the U.S. and keep operations going.
We are hoping to do this through sales, but finding an Angel investor if we need it is also on the horizon. Alan and Michelle have an ongoing interest in VoxPop, which is fantastic.
Michelle: I am really keen to continue supporting VoxPop to get it to the next stage, after that I am not sure yet. I am interested in starting something for myself in the not too distant future - perhaps a very early "watch this space".
Alan: I'm currently on a new contract with Ministry of Education, as Voxpop continues to grow and with the proposed departure of Radio New Zealand as a shareholder, I foresee my involvement in Voxpop to increase significantly.