Inside Molly Beck's bold plan to take podcasting mainstream

This is one in a series of stories that highlights each company in the 2019 class of the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, powered by Techstars. Visit LIFT Labs to learn more about this world-class program for connectivity, media and entertainment startups, and get information on applications for the next class.

If you're reading this, you probably have an idea for a podcast. Maybe you'd talk about relationships, riff on politics or offer business advice.

But you'll probably never start that podcast. Why? The barriers to entry seem too high.

From an expensive microphone, to studio space, to getting your podcast on iTunes or Spotify — it can seem overwhelming. Not to mention what follows: building an audience, continually creating new, engaging shows and monetizing your content.

Founder Molly Beck has a plan to make podcasting easy for everyone by making it as uncomplicated as launching a blog. Her startup is an all-in-one podcast production platform that makes it possible for even the most novice podcasters to record, edit, publish, publicize and monetize podcasts without ever leaving the site — and without buying fancy equipment. Think of it as WordPress for podcasting.

"We're living in a time when people are interested in not only consuming content, but creating content," Beck said. "Audio is the next big area where people want to create content."

So far, thousands of podcasters have created tens of thousands of episodes using Beck believes that's just the beginning, so she joined the 2019 class of the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, powered by Techstars. During the 13-week program, she had access to mentors and a vast network of Techstars experts. Beck thinks the experience will will help her build into the go-to podcasting platform.

Joining the LIFT Labs Accelerator took was a serious commitment. Beck is the mother of two young sons — a two-year-old and a three-month-old — and she moved them from Los Angeles to Philadelphia for the duration of the accelerator. Not only is Beck managing a growing business, but she's also managing logistics like preschools, babysitters, cross-country flights and breastfeeding. However, she's more than up to the task. She's the woman who started Forbes Podcasts, a series for the publication's 14 business-first shows. She's the woman who read 60 "For Dummies" books over the years just to learn new things. And, she's the woman who rose to top marketing positions at Venmo and Hearst.

"I've had interest from other accelerators, but I would only make a cross-country move for this one," Beck said.. "The ability to have both the support of Techstars and work inside a company like Comcast NBCUniversal is something no other program comes close to offering."

To Beck, creating a company and parenting pretty similar — you create something brand new and watch it grow.

"The two things I enjoy most are being an entrepreneur and being a parent," she said. "You make something out of nothing and hope that it goes on to change the world. That's what I hope my companies do and what I hope my children do."

"If you don't start your podcast this year, you'll regret it in five years"

Podcasting has gone mainstream. From true crime buffs, to business experts, to stand-up comics, it feels like everyone has a podcast these days. But Beck says the market is still incredibly underserved. There are 165 million podcast listeners and slightly more than 500,000 podcasts being updated regularly — meaning there's an audience thirsting for new content.

"Everybody I know wants to write a book and nobody ever says, 'But there are so many books out there already,'" Beck said. "The number of podcasts that exist will only grow, and I guarantee that if you do not start your podcast this year, you'll regret it in five years."

Those who've already gotten into podcasting now can use to gain a solid chunk of the growing audience.

"The people that start now will be the ones that build an audience and make it the centerpiece of their company or personal brand," Beck explained.

One common problem with podcasting is hardly technical — the fear that nobody will listen. Podcast metrics aren't public, like Facebook likes or Instagram followers, so you shouldn't feel pressured to gain an audience right away, Beck said. Plus, the whole point is to express yourself.

"My deepest hope for Messy is that we make it easy for people who feel like they have a story, personal opinion or point-of-view to share it with the world," she said. "I hope Messy takes away the fear that podcasting is only for technical people and makes it easy for anyone with a voice to get started."

As she grows into a powerful tech company, she hopes it inspires others to take the entrepreneurial leap — especially women and other mothers.

"There are people I will never meet who are watching my journey," she said. "I am trying to be the best leader I can be, so my story is impactful for the founder that is coming behind me."

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