Scout.fm needs to vary the way in which folks take heed to podcasts. As a substitute of scouring by way of the over 500,000 exhibits in your present podcast app, this startup’s new curated podcast service will simply ask you a number of questions to search out out what you want, then create a podcast station personalized to you. The expertise is primarily designed to be used on sensible audio system, like Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo gadgets, however can be accessible as iOS and Android functions.
The corporate was based simply over a yr in the past by Cara Meverden (CEO), beforehand of Google, Twitter, Indiegogo, and Medium; together with Saul Carlin (president and COO), beforehand head of writer improvement at Medium, and earlier than that, Politico; and Daniel McCartney, (CTO) beforehand an engineer at GrubHub, Klout and Medium.
At Medium, Meverden explains, they noticed an explosion of individuals creating nice written content material; however now these publishers had begun to create nice audio content material, as nicely.
However not like on Medium, which helps to information readers to subjects they like, folks as we speak have to hunt out new podcasts for themselves. Scout.fm needs to supply a greater system, and hopefully convey extra listeners to podcasts in consequence.
“We need to take podcast listening mainstream,” she says. “We assume the key to that is making podcasts as simple to hear to as the radio – and we assume that’s even extra critically essential, as we enter the sensible speaker period.”
The Scout.fm service started as a sequence of experiments on Alexa.
The corporate launched over 30 Alexa expertise, together with a “Recreation of Thones”-themed podcast radio that was well-liked whereas the present was airing on HBO. The aim was to check what labored, what subjects and codecs drew listeners, and achieve suggestions by way of calls-to-action to take part in person surveys.
The result’s Scout.fm, a curated podcast service that’s customized to your listening preferences – and one which improves over time.
Right here’s the way it works on the Alexa platform. You first launch the app by saying “Alexa, open Scout fm.” The app will reply (utilizing a human voice actor’s voice, not Alexa’s) by explaining briefly what Scout.fm does then asks you to decide on certainly one of three kinds of speak radio stations: “Day by day information, mind meals, or true tales.”
The primary is a information station, just like Alexa’s “Flash Briefing;” the second, “mind meals,” focuses on different attention-grabbing and informative content material, that’s not day-to-day information; and the final is a real crime podcast station.
The voice app will then ask you a number of extra questions as a part of this setup course of to search out out what different topics enchantment to you by having you reply, on a scale of 1 to 10, how a lot of a historical past buff you might be, or how a lot you’re thinking about tradition, like artwork, movie and literature, for instance.
On subsequent launches, the app will merely ask if you wish to return to your “Mind Meals” (or different chosen) station. In case you say no, you may attempt one of many different choices.
Nevertheless, as soon as the setup course of is over, the expertise turns into very very similar to listening to speak radio.
A podcast will start enjoying – Scout.fm favors these with out advertisements on the very starting – permitting you to hear so long as you’d like, or say “subsequent” to maneuver to the following one. Every new podcast episodes has a quick, spoken introduction that Scout.fm handwrites, so you realize what’s developing. Your listening can go on for hours, providing you a hands-free technique of switching podcasts and discovering new favorites.
The app will even regulate to your preferences over time, eradicating these you are inclined to skip – very similar to how the thumbs down works on Pandora.
Scout.fm doesn’t embody each podcast that’s on the market. As a substitute, it’s a curated choice of some hundred with excessive manufacturing values, narrative storytelling and tight modifying.
“So if we take heed to one thing and the 2 co-hosts sort of go on for half an hour originally, that’s not an awesome podcast for this format,” Meverden says. “We wish exhibits the place they’re going to get proper into it. That immediately limits issues, however there’s nonetheless an abundance of content material.”
For instance, a few of the podcasts Scout.fm consists of come from The Wall St. Journal, The New York Instances, ESPN, and podcast networks like Gimlet, Wondery, Parcast and others.
The identical curated number of podcasts can be accessible in Scout.fm’s cell apps for iOS and Android, which work with the voice assistant on the cellphone. (For instance, you may faucet your AirPods to wake Siri then say “Subsequent” to maneuver between podcasts.)
“In case you’re jogging, our apps are a superb companion since you don’t have to return to your cellphone and attempt to discover a new factor to take heed to,” notes Meverden.
Since Scout.fm’s launch, it has accrued 1.5 million minutes listened throughout its community of experimental apps forward of as we speak’s public debut. The Alexa person base listened for twice so long as cell customers.
At the moment, the service will not be producing income, however, sooner or later, the crew envisions call-to-action advertisements that would work with the Alexa app to share extra details about the merchandise, in addition to methods it may make the most of the newer in-app buy mechanisms for Alexa expertise.
The corporate is backed by $1.4M in seed funding from Bloomberg Beta, Precursor Ventures, Advancit and #Angels.
“The Scout crew’s distinctive perception is that podcasts, regardless of how good, gained’t go mainstream till it’s a lot easier for shoppers to search out and take heed to the content material that’s proper for them,” stated Charles Hudson, managing companion at Precursor Ventures, in an announcement in regards to the funding. “The quick adoption of sensible audio system modifications this. We are able to open up podcasts to a completely new viewers,” he stated.