In this newsletter
We’ve launched an open beta!
A full account of the existential startup crisis triggered by Apple
Our new community engagement channel on Reddit
We’ve launched, here’s how you can help!
We’d like to share some exciting news! We’ve just launched our podcast app Metacast in open beta!
It’s rough around the edges and a few things are missing (see known issues), but it already delivers on the promise we set out to achieve — give listeners a tool to find and retain knowledge in podcasts. We are shipping a beta to get feedback and tighten Metacast up before launching publicly to app stores. We also hope to generate some buzz around the app.
Our first startup crisis
We had a pretty sizable list of things we wanted to finish before launching Metacast to public. We didn’t know when we’d launch, but we wanted to launch straight to app stores. The reason for going from closed beta straight to “production” was that we didn’t want to get one star reviews if something was obviously broken.
But it all changed on Friday, January 26 at 6:40am ET…
I got an email from Apple that said they were going to introduce transcripts to Apple Podcasts. I had a moment of panic, because most of the novelty of Metacast is centered around episodes having transcripts that you can read, search, bookmark, and share.
It was the moment of truth for us.
First, it demonstrated yet again that the idea is worth nothing. We were reluctant to talk about transcripts in Metacast publicly, referring to them as “secret sauce” instead. Maybe we should’ve started mentioning transcripts from the get-go and gotten more target users into our closed beta.
Second, it clarified for us yet again that we’re not really competing with Apple or Spotify. We are building a product for heavy podcast listeners who need a tool that will help them save information, do research, and triage a large number of podcasts they follow. Our product may eventually become mainstream, but for now we’re really focusing on the top 1% of podcast listeners. We optimize for features that will be too niche for Apple or Spotify, because they have the other 99% of the user base to care about.
Third, it made us realize that Apple isn’t necessarily our “enemy” here. Now that Apple will have transcripts, there’s a higher chance that podcasters will start publishing their episode transcripts. We have the capability to take those in, and in the long run, we can have higher quality transcripts at a lower cost (because we won’t have to pay for transcription ourselves). Besides, Apple Podcasts is not on Android.
We panicked for a couple of hours and went back to doing what we were doing — focusing on the value that we will provide to our users. But we decided that it was pointless to call “transcripts” our secret sauce now that Apple Podcasts and Spotify will have transcripts as well. So, we decided that the cat is out of the bag and we should launch an open beta asap.
We set a launch date for February 6, but hit a few roadblocks along the way. Finally, on February 9, everything was ready for the app to be available to anyone who’s willing to try it out and help us improve it.
In the past, we tried Discord to build a community, but there was always something off about it. Maybe it’s a generational thing, but Discord always seemed a bit gimicky to us, Xennials (an average between a Gen X and a millennial).
We chose Reddit as our platform for building a community where users can learn about the app, file bug reports, and submit feature requests.
If you’re a Reddit users, join us at r/metacastapp.
Follow our journey of building a podcast app Metacast 👇