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Finding Opportunities In Podcasting
Sean: Jamie. It is super interesting to have you on the show. And before that, I just want to introduce myself. Hey everyone, welcome back to the show. Sorry, I haven’t been introducing our guests. This is the Leadership Stack podcast! Welcome back and today we have the CEO and founder of Match Casts. It is some- if you’re wondering, casts sounds like a podcast.
Yes, it is related to podcasting. And it is very interesting for me to have her here and ask her questions because, Hey, I’m doing a podcast myself. We’re going to be learning about her entrepreneurship journey among other stuff. So Jamie Ng, if you want to check her out, it’s matchcasts.com. We’re going to have that on the show notes.
Jamie, welcome to the show.
Jaime: Thank you for having me. Thanks, Sean.
Sean: We always start out with this question because a lot of entrepreneurs, if not all, actually started out this way. What took you, what were the things that took you to where you are now in Match Casts? What is your entrepreneurship journey? What does it look like?
Jaime: That’s awesome. That’s a great question. It’s probably a long journey. You know, I’ve kind of come full circle. So earlier in the pre-show, I was telling you that I used to be a film student, so I’ve always been into media, but I was a bit, I couldn’t study media because there wasn’t a very full flash course when I was growing up here in Singapore.
So I ended up taking economics. But I was writing, I was basically writing for the university newspaper and eventually decided to go to the U S to study film. I’ve always been sort of into film. And then later I actually ended up sort of building a platform for streaming video for TV. Audio is something that I’ve actually never done.
I felt like I’ve come full circle, but that was a, I guess it’s the elevator pitch of my life. But in reality it is not, it’s just because I’ve been a marketer all my life. And the last few girls I’ve been with as with Red Mart and NTUC lane, where I was a CML, but over the years, I’ve looked at my career.
I’ve always been building stuff for people. I’ve been sort of looking at their business and changing it, growing it. I wanted to build a business of my own and the opportunity arose when I decided to leave NTUC and go down this path. So I did a couple of entrepreneurship programs and then eventually landed up in Hong Kong.
Where the podcasting scene is totally – like crazy in China, where you have Himalaya, which dominates the market. And everyone has stopped listening to radio in China, 75% are all listening to some form of digital audio player. And I felt that, you know, this landscape was sort of bite per room for growth. And I saw that nascency happening in the US.
I saw it happening in different markets and I felt, Hey, you know, this is something that I could do. And therefore started ideating with Match Casts. And as a marketer, I guess my background was really in, I would say advertising sort of. And sort of helping brands go audio, so that’s really what we started.
We call Match Casts the brand that helped brands go audio. We focus on podcasts advertising, but we also have started going down the data analytics route. So we actually look at the entire podcast and landscape. Slice that up by country and can give you a very good landscape view of the country in which brands would be very interested to say, “Hey, you know, I’m looking at the Philippines.
How does podcasting stack up? How does that work? How does – you know, Indonesia podcasting landscape looks like versus Singapore.” And we’ve done that over the past year. You know, it’s still pretty early in my journey, but you know, it’s been about 18 months now and counting, so hopefully, yeah, that could be something, insights I could share with your audience.
Sean: 18 months. That’s almost when I started the Leadership Stack. So it’s a pretty early journey, in my opinion, still. I wonder with the entire, you know, you already sold by the way; Congratulations, you sold a company. That’s a big deal. You work for all of these tech companies, Lazada, Alibaba, you became CMO.
You learn a lot in leadership. What are the things that you took with you along those, all of those experiences that you’re now able to apply in Match Casts?
Jaime: Yeah, definitely. So one of the things that I did, I mean, going back to the sales, you know, one of the things was I was CMO of RedMart at that time. I went on to the company, knowing that I had a very clear task to grow them very quickly so that I could, they could either raise funds.
So just for audiences who are not familiar with red mark, RedMart is the biggest sort of E-grocery in Singapore, it actually sells almost predominantly all grocery types as well as non-grocery products. And it was actually one of the biggest here in Southeast Asia; in Singapore actually. It’s not gone to Southeast Asia.
And then that time, my role was to actually break it into like a almost daily staple for every Singaporean shopper. And my goal was then grow it very quickly so that we could go onto the negotiation table with investors or either half the acquisition. The acquisition was a little bit of a surprise.
It didn’t, you know, didn’t expect to completely sell the company. But Lazada came in with a good offer and eventually that happened. And then you got bought out by Lazada, which eventually Lazada got bought out by Alibaba, so hence the history/ I would guess, you know? Yeah, you’re absolutely right.
Very early on in the journey 18 months. One of the biggest lessons, I guess, is just persistence. If you’re focused and you’re passionate about what you’re doing, be very persistent in what you’re planning to do. And that is the biggest learning I have.
In every single company that I’ve been with, the actual problem that happens is often, you know, a failure of persistence that they either gave up halfway and they kind of saw something that didn’t work and then they didn’t continue and that eventually could happen to success. That was one thing that I felt that we’re always kind of working on Match Casts, but iterating it along the way.
So 18 months while it felt like it’s a short journey, but it’s actually quite long in a startup. Because you’re iterating every few months, it becomes like probably version six as I’m talking to you now. So that’s a lot of iterations, so that’s a lot of changes that you’re always constantly measuring and testing with the market.
So you need a lot of persistence and just keep finding that right you know, hitch that change. To kind of help go out there in the market to see whether it makes a difference.
Sean: I want to know where, what you, you talked about your journey about knowing all of these up-and-coming podcasts. When you were in China, when you were in Hong Kong, you mentioned it inspired or it lit a bulb in your head.
Can you tell us more about how that happened? Because a lot of people, especially who are still doing their day jobs and wondering what kind of business I get into? What kind of business do I do? where can I go? What’s going to make money.They have all of these questions and it’s easier to give them an example, which is yours.
What was that light bulb moment that told you, I can actually make a business out of that?
Jaime: So when I was, again,going back, right. The timing was really important. It was January, 2019. I was starting to look into this market and I had to find a new idea in which I wanted to do a startup around.
And then by March, I was already kind of hooked onto Himalaya. So Himalaya is kind of considered the super app of China. In the Western world they don’t have something similar to the Himalaya. Himalaya is kind of like your, it’s a combination of Audible, a combination of Spotify, a combination of Good Reads if you have, and then the combination of Patrol One in there.
So there’s really nothing like that in the Western world or in Southeast Asia or even in any parts of the world. It was sort of a super app that was built over 12 years that have founded growth. About what you have seen was the year that I was there in Hong Kong, I saw that it had actually started growing like crazy where it’s actually in the midst of going to NASDAQ and list itself and grow into the US.
What has happened also, are there more people in China going to become full time, sort of podcasters? It was very unique at that time. I’ve never heard of anyone in my sort of surrounding going say, Hey, I want to become a full-time podcaster, there’s a lot of people saying, Hey, maybe I’ll start out with social media and be a social media influence, but I’m going to be a podcaster.
So I didn’t quite understand it. I was very lucky. So a good friend of mine was actually doing a program for Himalaya and he was actually doing it really, really well. He had already a hundred thousand subscribers into his earlier show and Himalayan was following him for subsequent shows, which he will launch onto Himalaya.
And I actually got firsthand experience of how that growth was and it lit a bulb in me was that, you know, in all my career, as a marketer, I’ve actually never really considered audio advertising. To be something that would threaten, I would say maybe programmatic or traditional media. I never quite thought of podcasting being sort of something like that or, you know, audio advertising becoming sort of a stronger growth.
But as I looked into the market, I did a lot of research. I saw that, you know, markets in the US, for example, started growing, you know, audio listenership as there are more and more smart speakers at home. People’s lifestyle and habits change like you were telling me earlier, you feel like it’s a waste of time just listening to music.
You’re not learning anything but predominantly what a lot of people in the US are doing now is they’re also learning something by listening to podcasts. And when I think back to what my friend was doing, he was actually producing a course called you. X-ing your life. So he’s an ex-McKenzie ex-Harvard student.
So he actually teaches people in China through the podcast, how to actually, you know, sort of you X your entire life to what’s a better career. And that was so popular because people kind of aspired to him as a Harvard student, as an ex-McKenzie global leader. And so they actually follow his podcast and pay willingly to listen to his show.
So I saw that that was something that was changing. And as I look into the research, it kind of cements what I was thinking. And guess what, you know, in 2020, I think we’ve had the most exciting growth of podcasting. Literally 1 billion was spent by Spotify to buy up a ton of different companies. You know, recently we just got into this sort of landscaping podcast.
We called it Podscape. That was done by the US and Match Casts made it to one, but there are at least these, like, I would say good, 250 companies on that whole landscape. So it’s grown. It’s really, really grown. So, you know, whether, you know, what I did at that time was just right. Led me down this direction. It did let me down with direction.
I saw that there was an opportunity, but others saw it as well. So I wasn’t the only person. And what was unique was then, you know, our competition started coming. So this is where we’re faced with looking at how to differentiate ourselves from the landscape of people who also saw the opportunity and started going in there.
And I mean, to your audience, you know, if you find an opportunity, just act on it very quickly, I guess that’s the best thing. If you can. And then as competition rises, differentiate yourself from them. I think those are most important and that’s something that we’re still learning and still doing at Match Casts.
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