Alex Carter is one of those guys that soaks up knowledge, and he wants as many ways as possible to discover new podcasts, talks, radio shows and recordings to serve it to him.
But discovering that kind of audio has never been easy despite the plethora of content available on the web and through iTunes. Without knowing a person giving a talk or the name of a show, it’s impossible to find relevant recordings without a lot of effort.
That’s the problem Carter (pictured left) and his lifelong friend and former NC State classmate Michael Crouch (right) are trying to solve with Knomad.
Carter quit his management consulting job at Deloitte last year and Crouch chose not to pursue a career in law after graduating from Berkeley Law School. Last May, they began to build a social discovery engine that works like Spotify but delivers the spoken word. It lets users create playlists of podcasts or radio shows, search content that’s interesting to them, and share it with their friends.
“I’d love to see what my friends are looking or sharing or thinking is important, but people don’t share audio on social networks,” Carter says. “For audio to go viral, it needs its own social network. That’s what we’re aiming to do.”
There are competitors in the space. A key one is the Google Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and DFJ-funded Swell.am, which delivers relevant podcasts based on a person’s interests and the types of content he or she listens to over time. But the men consider that closer to the Pandora model. They believe Knomad is the only of its kind that truly creates a social network around spoken word content, allowing for playlists to be created and shared.
They also think they can serve up valuable data to content publishers. Knomad will collect and provide metrics episode to episode, detailing how long the average person listened or how many times it was shared.
Startup Factory partner Chris Heivly was impressed by the men’s commitment. They quit their jobs to build the product full-time, and taught themselves to code. They’ll soon have a prototype to test with 100 beta users in coming weeks. Carter says the only thing he’s paid for so far is a $30 Elance project to design a logo.
“We like their work ethic and we think there’s room for them to find niche,” Heivly says.