Glow Technologies, a startup whose goal is to provide a seamless business model for podcasters, raised $2.3 million in seed funding today after a successful beta trial earlier this year.
Glow, the Seattle-based company is another product from startup studio Pioneer Square Labs, which offers a bridge between paying listeners and podcasters.
As of June this year, about 750,000 podcast channels are amassing over 30 million episodes.
Apple Podcast alone hosts over 550,000 podcasts, according to an announcement made at WWDC 2018.
Throughout the years, podcasting has gained a following in the US where at least 51% (144 million) of the US population has listened to a podcast — up from 44% in 2018 (Infinite Dial 19).
US listeners are described as “loyal, affluent, and educated,” because a rough 80% of the statistic listens to an entire podcast or, at least, most of it.
Adhering to these numbers, Glow found that there can be a profitable market in the podcasting industry. Noting that advertising has been an often tricky and challenging deal to strike that would enable podcasters to earn.
Glow positions its platform to enable podcasters in building their media businesses, initially through tools that allow them to generate revenue directly from its loyal listeners.
The company’s co-founder and CEO Amira Valliani was a podcaster herself before venturing into the startup.
Valliani initially served as an advisor in the Obama administration before creating a podcast to talk about elections in Cambridge, Mass.
However, she struggled to monetize her local news podcast, but she had listeners willing to pay for more content, but couldn’t find a monetization platform that met her needs as a podcaster.
So instead of waiting, she co-founded Glow Technologies that are specifically designed to make it “simple and seamless” for podcasters to convert their most loyal listeners into members who pay recurring subscription fees to support them.
Glow itself is technically not a podcast app. In essence, it is a platform that caters for podcast apps—including Apple Podcasts—and offers a set of subscription rates and payment options, so fans who use Glow to pay for more content have instant access on their listening app of choice, access to exclusive content, or ad-free episodes.
Vallirani compared the startup to Shopify, a business that enables content creators to set up their digital storefronts and offer products to their established fanbases.
“Glow is building a solution targeted at these hundreds of thousands of podcasters feeling the pain of this monetization gap,” she said.
“Creators have relied solely on advertising for too long, and we love the sustainable way that Glow enables podcasters to thrive in this incredibly fast-growing media category,” Alan Patricof, founder and managing director of round leader Greycroft, added in a statement.
The startup announced today that it had raised $2.3 million in seed funding. The round, which was led by Greycroft, with participation from Norwest Venture Partners, PSL Ventures, WndrCo and Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, as well as individual investors including Nas and Electronic Arts CTO Ken Moss.
”Our first hire after this funding round will be someone focused on podcast success,” Valliani said. “Of course, we’re going to build the product [, but we’re] doubling down on this market; we better make sure that [podcasters] are prepared to launch programs that are as successful as possible.”
Through Glow, podcasters are technically getting paid by their listeners because of the content that they produce. It would only be fitting that these podcasters to provide content that’s worth their money.
Especially when Glow is only one of the very few platforms that allow direct monetization between listeners and hosts.
Relevantly, Glow is trying to ensure that they can provide a list of good podcasts for listeners who are willing to pay to choose from.
Earlier this year, Glow started testing the product in beta with the podcast Acquired, which is now bringing in $35,000 in subscription fees through Glow.
Acquired currently offers exclusive content for $5/month Limited Partner program; while Techmeme Ride Home, another podcast offers an ad-free version of its show to paid subscribers for $5/month through Glow.
Overall, there are about 100 podcasts that use Glow, including Twenty Thousand Hertz and The Newsworthy.
Glow’s business model allows transaction through Google Pay and Apple Pay with offers for a customized landing page for registering members and backend system for managing a membership program.
In particular, the company generates revenue by taking a percentage cut of the transaction, without requiring podcasters to pay anything upfront.
A summary presented during the beta signup indicates that the company takes a 20 percent cut of the overall time membership fee in situations where podcasters are charging for access to exclusive member content or 12 percent for those charging for access to existing podcast content. Custom pricing is available in other situations. Startups commonly experiment with different pricing during beta periods.
The company told Variety that in the future, it plans to develop “richer and deeper” tools to continue expanding podcast creators’ monetization options.