Scout.fm needs to vary the best way individuals take heed to podcasts. As an alternative of scouring by way of the over 500,000 obtainable reveals obtainable in your present podcast app, this startup’s new curated podcast service will simply ask you just a few questions to seek out out what you want, then create a podcast station custom-made to you. The expertise is primarily designed to be used on good audio system, like Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo units, however can be obtainable 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 properly.
However not like on Medium, which helps to information readers to matters they like, individuals right this moment have to hunt out new podcasts for themselves. Scout.fm needs to supply a greater system, and hopefully deliver extra listeners to podcasts consequently.
“We need to take podcast listening mainstream,” she says. “We suppose the key to that is making podcasts as simple to hear to as the radio – and we suppose that’s even extra critically vital, as we enter the good speaker period.”
The Scout.fm service started as a sequence of experiments on Alexa.
The corporate launched over 30 Alexa abilities, together with a “Sport of Thones”-themed podcast radio that was common whereas the present was airing on HBO. The objective was to check what labored, what matters 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 considered one of three sorts of discuss radio stations: “Every day information, mind meals, or true tales.”
The primary is a information station, much like Alexa’s “Flash Briefing;” the second, “mind meals,” focuses on different fascinating 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 just a few extra questions as a part of this setup course of to seek out out what different topics attraction to you by having you reply, on a scale of 1 to 10, how a lot of a historical past buff you’re, or how a lot you’re occupied with 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. If you happen to say no, you’ll be able to attempt one of many different choices.
Nonetheless, 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 taking part in – Scout.fm favors these with out adverts 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 short, spoken introduction that Scout.fm handwrites, so you realize what’s arising. Your listening can go on for hours, providing you a hands-free technique of switching podcasts and discovering new favorites.
The app may also alter to your preferences over time, eradicating these you are likely 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 an alternative, it’s a curated choice of some hundred with excessive manufacturing values, narrative storytelling and tight enhancing.
“So if we take heed to one thing and the 2 co-hosts form of go on for half an hour initially, that’s not an excellent podcast for this format,” Meverden says. “We would like reveals the place they’re going to get proper into it. That instantly limits issues, however there’s nonetheless an abundance of content material.”
For instance, a number of the podcasts Scout.fm contains come from The Wall St. Journal, The New York Instances, ESPN, and podcast networks like Gimlet, Wondery, Parcast and others.
The identical curated collection of podcasts can be obtainable in Scout.fm’s cellular apps for iOS and Android, which work with the voice assistant on the telephone. (For instance, you’ll be able to faucet your AirPods to wake Siri then say “Subsequent” to maneuver between podcasts.)
“If you happen to’re jogging, our apps are a wonderful companion since you don’t have to return to your telephone 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 right this moment’s public debut. The Alexa person base listened for twice so long as cellular customers.
At the moment, the service is just not producing income, however, sooner or later, the crew envisions call-to-action adverts that might work with the Alexa app to share extra details about the merchandise, in addition to methods it might make the most of the newer in-app buy mechanisms for Alexa abilities.
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 customers to seek out and take heed to the content material that’s proper for them,” mentioned Charles Hudson, managing associate at Precursor Ventures, in an announcement in regards to the funding. “The quick adoption of good audio system adjustments this. We are able to open up podcasts to a completely new viewers,” he mentioned.