In this post, our Co-Founder & CEO Andrew J. Chapin writes about benja's experience on The Pitch podcast. For the uninitiated, The Pitch is a podcast that has been called "a podcast version of Shark Tank" by TheNextWeb and "one of the best podcasts for entrepreneurs" by Forbes. You can see more about The Pitch at http://thepitch.fm. You can hear benja's episode (#11) by clicking here.
I first heard about The Pitch when it was featured on Product Hunt. I was hooked from my first listen. The podcast is well-produced, it featured a diverse series of companies, and it's digestible - it's not too short or too long. More than anything, a pitch podcast like this is a great idea.
As soon as I heard about it, I submitted benja's application. We didn't hear back. Weeks passed. We assumed that they had passed and we moved on, which is one of those things that founders learn to do. It didn't keep me from listening - it's one of the few podcasts that I kept in my regular cycle, listening to every episode.
... and then we heard from Josh Muccio. A few e-mails back and forth, and I was set to meet with co-host Sheel Mihnot at the 500 Startups offices in San Francisco. I went. I pitched. The episode dropped Thanksgiving week. People listened.
Fellow founders constantly ask about the impact of features on podcasts like The Pitch or websites like Product Hunt. The purpose of this post is to share some of our learnings, now that we're more than six months removed from it.
Impact on Fundraising
Much like ABC's Shark Tank, the surface-level purpose of The Pitch is fundraising. Josh & Sheel pulled in two thoughtful and respected members of that community, Anarghya Vardhana from Maveron and Ryan Lawler from 500 Startups. While they both expressed interest in taking a meeting, we didn't meet or raise money from them. The Pitch doesn't imply or guarantee that a positive response on the podcast will result in an investment, of course, but it's a good reminder that this is really just a means to land a warm introduction.
We received some inbound interest from other investors (/listeners) but nothing came of it. We haven't raised any money as a result of our time on The Pitch.
It's possible that this may change as these introductions have lead to on-going relationships. When we decided to pursue experimental e-commerce experiences in augmented reality, we reached out to Anarghya (the AR/VR-guru) and we had a great conversation that may drive big change at benja. I'm not sure if I would have had the opportunity to connect with her if not for our time on The Pitch. Cultivating relationships like these months/years in advance often pays off for early-stage companies - I am hopeful that this will be the case.
Impact on Growth
While we didn't receive the immediate investment interest that we had hoped for, we did recognize some significant growth on both sides of our marketplace: vendors and users. Tough to beat that.
The fun part about the inbound vendor interest was the variety. Benja currently features a set of product that we spent months cultivating: athletic apparel, outdoor gear, sports fan gear and the like. Suddenly we had vendors looking to off-load candles, instructional DVDs, and obscure collectibles. This experience lead us to install our first real quality-evaluation process. Some of these inbound inquiries made the cut, others didn't, and we had a lot of laughs along the way.
We also saw a solid bump in our daily active user number, to the tune of 10%. It doesn't hurt that the majority of Americans are in a purchasing mindset during the late November lead-up to the holidays. From what we can tell, most of The Pitch users came, stuck around, and shared content with their friends. Those are our favorite users.
There are many things that a founder can do to to drive awareness for their product or company. We've worked hard for PR, we've attended conferences like LAUNCH and Web Summit, we've done good old-fashioned networking, we launched on Product Hunt (#2 8/2!), and we've been featured on The Pitch, among other things.
There's no question that Product Hunt and The Pitch have been the greatest drivers of growth. Hands down.
My favorite part? I received a phone call on the day the podcast came out from my dad. He started the conversation, "I think I get it now."