How This Entrepreneur Turned a Podcast Into a Million Dollars in Funding for His Company (And How You Can Too)
A podcast is a great tool to build a brand and connect with future customers, mentors and even investors.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
I'm going to state up front something I shouldn't have to say out loud: Don't max out your credit cards to fund a startup you don't know is going to work.
Good thing for Scott Kitun, CEO of Technori, we didn't know each other when he decided to max out $65k in credit cards to fund his idea for a startup. Had he known me, I would've told him what I just told you: It's too risky. Get a real job. Hustle at night. Do anything except take out credit card debt.
Scott Kitun, CEO of Technori
Kitun had a vision for a new way to launch and fund startups, but he didn't have the capital to do it. So what does an entrepreneur do when they don't have the money to do something? Well, apparently they start a podcast!
With no access to investors, Kitun decided to take out personal debt and build a podcast that would make investors come to him rather than get funding the traditional way. As a former employee of Technori myself, I'm glad he took this approach since he turned debt and no connections into a successful podcast and funding for his start up.
Here's how he was actually able to do that and how you can too:
He started a new podcast under an established brand to make it easier to speak with influential individuals.
Here's the genius of his move to start a podcast under the umbrella of an established brand, WGN Radio-- he used the platform to interview, and more importantly, meet successful people that he wouldn't have had access to otherwise.
Do you know who says no to appearing on a podcast, especially one that's already well known? Almost nobody. Think about it. If someone asked you to appear on a podcast or radio station, would you say no? Unless you already get a ton of free press, most people say yes without hesitation.
One of his guests turned out to be the person who funded his company. You might call that luck, but I call that a well defined, patient networking strategy.
He used an interview as a chance to ask for funding.
Kitun knew he had limited time to make his debt investment work, so he made a list of successful founders and investors that he thought would be a great fit for what he was building and invited them on his podcast.
That's when he met Mike Rothman, founder of SMS Assist. After a short interview with Rothman, Kitun quickly realized he was a perfect fit for his work style and concept.
"After the interview was over, I showed my hand entirely," Kitun explained to me, "and [Rothman] asked very directly, 'How much would it cost to do this at scale?' And, I responded without hesitation, 'one million dollars.'"
And Kitun got that million dollars from Rothman.
I can't say this enough. Don't wait around to ask for anything. Don't wait for your pay raise to come to you. Don't wait to ask for a job if you know you're the perfect fit. Don't wait for permission to ask for the sale.
Do like Kitun and ask for the sale when you have the chance and an investor's time. That's how you get what you want.
He relied on previous connections in order to secure high-profile interviews.
Even in some cases, being featured on a well-known podcast isn't enough to get some people out of bed and into the studio chair.
Kitun worked hard for years on meeting and helping other people with no clear return of his time investment, even before he needed any funding.
His strategy paid off because when the time came to reach out to Rothman, a connection he made with someone he's helped in the past happily agree to reach out to Rothman and set up an initial meeting with him and Kitun.
The lesson to learn here is that it's never too late to start building connections and building social equity. In fact, the later you start, the harder it will be for you to grow your business when you're looking for help.
I've personally invested seven years into a brand that is just recently turning profitable. I don't do it because I think it's going to make me rich. I do it because I believe in it. I believe that what I'm building can help others. And when I do need to ask for a favor? I know I'll have the network to do it.
What I don't have is a podcast. Maybe that's my next step.