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The startup investment landscape is changing. and world class companies are being built outside of Silicon Valley. We find them, talk with them and discuss the upside of investing in them. Welcome to Upside.
Eric, we did it. We made it through the 2020 election, we have the president elect.
Eric Hornung 0:32
And we have my 30th birthday coming up.
Jay Clouse 0:34
And we have your 30th birthday coming up, which I know because I know it inherently I have it on my calendar. And not because we’ve already recorded one take of this, and you told me it was your birthday?
Eric Hornung 0:42
Mm hmm. And when I told you that, did you even just like. Do you even know what the date is? Even though you know, it’s coming up?
Jay Clouse 0:50
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I definitely know the date is.
Eric Hornung 0:53
Yeah, insert cut here while Jay types frantically?
Jay Clouse 0:59
Do I have it?
Eric Hornung 1:00
No, dude, I only turned 30 twice. So no big deal.
Jay Clouse 1:03
I don’t have it. I have the date of your wedding as it was supposed to be.
Eric Hornung 1:09
Did you get this the change the date in the mail?
Jay Clouse 1:12
No, I did not get a change the date in the mail.
Eric Hornung 1:14
Well should be there any minute now.
Jay Clouse 1:17
Well, 2021 is gonna be a big year, because you’re gonna turn 31 in 2021. You’re going to get married. We’re going to have a new president. Theoretically, we’ll help. We’ll see how this all plays out. It’s been a nightmare week for media. So let’s talk about things we like about media and things we’re excited about in media.
Eric Hornung 1:35
I’m excited about a lot in media. To be honest, I think that we are in a changing time for media. I think that you see that with the premiums that people are putting on acquisitions like Morning Brew, I think that a lot of these kind of legacy media players are looking to the future with Penn National and Barstool with Morning Brew with I mean, there’s just a lot going on, to be honest, it’s it’s almost like too much to encap to bring into one little fold here.
Jay Clouse 2:05
And you’re always on top of it more than I am like, you’re the one that showed me what the hustle was. And then you were talking about Morning Brew, before I knew anyone else was you were really talking about the way that Barstools’ structured their organization before anyone that I knew. And you just recently started showing me YouTube talk shows, which are a real quick way to lose an afternoon. So you’re you’re on this. And that has led to now a new project for the company, our umbrella over Upside. And I’m excited about it. And it’s just about ready to go.
Eric Hornung 2:36
Yeah, we’re launching two new podcasts, Jay. If this wasn’t enough work, let’s add two more. So the first one is called When Pigs Fly and it is a Cincinnati based podcast focusing on emerging businesses. And I classify those as it could be startups, it could be franchises, it could be brands, anything that can scale past a locale. And then the second one is the Lay of the Land, which is a podcast that’s mapping the Cleveland ecosystem are four new hosts, Jay, so won’t be you and I on the mics.
Jay Clouse 3:07
We’re not on the mics for these new podcasts that are launching the next few months.
Eric Hornung 3:10
No, no, we are not. I don’t think our girlfriends and fiance’s would appreciate you and I spending any more time together than we already do.
Jay Clouse 3:19
And the listeners probably get enough of us too.
Eric Hornung 3:21
That’s a good point. So we have Allie and Jeff and Tegan and Patrick, you hear a lot more from them. In the coming days, weeks and months as they launch their own podcasts on the Upside network.
Jay Clouse 3:34
Yeah, we will share the trailers for those shows, we’ll share a little bit of a launch episode for each of them. But we want to go behind the scenes a little bit here and talk about this network that Eric has really been building over the last couple months for us that is hosting the shows because as you just told you, we are not the host of the shows, we are helping make them possible. So Eric, why are we why are we doing that? Why do these two shows need us? Why do they need the Upside network?
Eric Hornung 4:02
I think when we started this podcast, we actually learned a lot more. We learned a lot about this. And it hasn’t been just months that we’ve been building this concept. I think the first time I sent you a note about the potential for an Upside network was about three months into us actually having Upside like we had just created our Slack. We had just, we were still new. And I was already thinking, Man, I could see how this works. And one thing that I didn’t understand at that point was the economics and the amount of work it takes to launch a local podcast and the trade off for all of the time that you spend launching a local podcast and probably losing money doing it. So if you live in a city in your listener, you’ve probably seen a host of podcasts that are focused on startups or small business or local podcasts or maybe they’re launched by your local chamber or maybe they’re launched by a local nonprofit. Come and go. And the truth is that they’re really hard to maintain locally, unless you have a repeatable playbook to launch those podcasts a structure to run those podcasts in a way to let the hosts focus on being great hosts, not on business owners who have to deal with all of the additional work that goes with running a podcast.
Jay Clouse 5:22
Yeah, and to give a little color to that, to launch a podcast, you have the obvious upfront costs of equipment. And now it can be a little bit cheaper, because a lot of people are doing it remotely, so you can get paid for your mic, your equipment, and then you kind of have the guests do whatever they want. For local podcasts, a lot of them are done in person. So you’re talking about a two person setup maybe more, if that’s the case, needed recording space, pay for an editor or invest a lot of your own time to do it. So usually see two flavors of local podcast one being like the community builder, grassroots type of person who wants to do it because there’s love their city, the other person kind of being like, like you said, like from the chamber. Both those are hard to maintain, because the individual, it’s a lot of time and even money to do it. And it’s kind of a thankless job in the beginning, and the chamber who may have the resources to do it, but may have unrealistic expectations of how quickly it takes off, and will quickly quickly scrapped the project.
Eric Hornung 6:19
Yeah, one of the things with any enterprise launching a podcast and we’ve seen this over the last three years Jay is that there’s always something else that’s going to come along, that is the new thing that we should allocate our experimental budget to. So if you have a company, and 10 years ago, they launched a blog. And then five years ago, they launched a YouTube channel. And then three years ago, they launched a podcast. And now today, they’re launching a Tik Tok channel, the allocation of resources, both financial and time resources is going to veer away from the thing that’s not working. And unless that podcast was a massive hit, like a16z podcast, it’s very rare that that thing is going to continue into perpetuity as if it was a standalone podcast.
Jay Clouse 7:06
And for the individual. The actual act of talking to people and recording the podcast is the easiest, shortest amount of time that goes into the process of producing a show the actual production, editing, publishing, finding advertisers to support the show, all that takes up way more time than actual interviewing. And so you stepped in and you said, I thought we could find, I thought we could make a way to support these local, quote unquote, indie podcasters by doing some of the back office stuff, making that process easier and let them do what they do best, which is user relationships, cultivate relationships, get on the mic, and have some good conversations.
Eric Hornung 7:44
Yeah, and we’re not looking explicitly at people who have podcasts currently, I call them like the rising stars. So if you think about in the sports world, we’ve talked a little bit about Barstool’s business model. And I think Erika Nardini is like one of the best CEOs probably of the past decade, maybe longer. What barstool does is they find kind of rising stars who are already doing this, we’re kind of going a little bit earlier than that. We’re looking for individuals who maybe don’t have a podcast, but have demonstrated some aspect of hustle or interest in building their network and their local community in creating and telling stories. There’s a lot of different ways you can get it. But I want to find the people who are not the Stephen A Smith’s who are going to have to pay millions and millions of dollars to to launch a podcast, I don’t want the Ben Gilbert’s have acquired to do one about Seattle, because he’s already a known entity, he already has a set of incentives. But if I could find the next Ben Gilbert of Seattle and accelerate his path to becoming Ben Gilbert, via helping him with a podcast that has a upside, nationally branded backing, and a playbook to get him from zero to one faster than he could himself, and one to two faster, and two to three faster than I think that’s the kind of people we want to find is people with hustle determination and who want to grow.
Jay Clouse 9:02
And you’re listening to this and you’re thinking, ooh, that sounds interesting. That might be me. Reach out to us, let us know. Because our first two shows that Eric mentioned are in Cleveland and Cincinnati, because they’re both close to us. We can go and meet these people, we can build our own playbook of helping onboard new shows and helping them set it up. We’re really proud of the trailers that the shows are putting out. We think that the quality of these shows because they had the benefit of working with Eric and, and our engineer Nathan to come in and help them get started. On the right foot is a huge, huge benefit of what we’re trying to do here. And ultimately, we can provide that to podcasters individuals in communities across the country. So if that’s you, email us firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet at us @upsideFM and let us know. Eric, how did you find these four that we’re talking with now?
Eric Hornung 9:51
And the crazy world of Twitter, I literally wrote a job description, said hey, here’s this Rev Share 1099 ish agreement, here’s kind of what we’re thinking this is not final, this is going to be a very beta experiment. So there’s a lot of you working with us, us working with you posted it on Twitter and I had a ton of people reach out with you should talk to this person, you should talk to this person, here’s an intro to this person, a bunch of people reached out directly into the sounds like me. And we interviewed 27 people in May and June of 2020. And we kind of whittled those down, played a little Matchmaker, figured out through a couple more conversations, who was really interested, who was just kind of kind of interested. And then we came up with our four co hosts. And honestly, it was a lot more art than science. But we are trying to pair people with different backgrounds, different opinions, different viewpoints, so that we didn’t have to have the same person on the mic, as a co host. And I think we did a really awesome job based on the last six months of working with each of these co hosts to create their vision for what their podcast looks like. As you’ll notice that what I mentioned beginning, these are not Upside Cleveland podcasts, they are different. So Lay of the Land has its own artwork, When Pigs Fly has its own artwork, has its own vibe. It has its own feel, has its own persona. And that’s what we want, because people when they think local want to feel local, Upside provides a national medium to share the local podcasts.
Jay Clouse 11:27
Yeah. So these shows have their own feed their own hosts their own their own feel. Eric’s give them giving them a lot of creative freedom to structure things as they want. We’ve just helped them craft that concept and really get it nailed down. And in giving them the benefit of the process that we built over the last few years, both from a procedural standpoint, and also helping to do the actual production on the back end. We’re also helping with advertisers on that front. So again, if you’re listening to this, you’re like, this is interesting, I want to talk to you guys. Let us know. So you mentioned that Upside, could have this national lens with different cities. And we’ve we’ve touched something like 70 different cities across the country. We’ve done a couple episodes in Cincinnati, a couple episodes in Cleveland, not companies, but a couple episodes. It’s just really difficult for us to get a layer of depth in any one ecosystem, we kind of want to be the height podcast for most of the country, but we can’t go super, super deep. So why have individual shows versus just have hosts that are putting localized shows into the Upside feed?
Eric Hornung 12:27
I just don’t think that scales as well. I think that if we’re looking at how big this opportunity is, which is one of our four questions on our own deal memos, Jay, how about that little.
Jay Clouse 12:36
There we go.
Eric Hornung 12:37
Little pod ception there?
Jay Clouse 12:39
What do you think about the founders?
Eric Hornung 12:41
Well the Jay guy kind of stinks. So I think that if we look at the opportunity, here, we have a city ranking list. And that has, what what their VC rank is, what their population rank is, what their growth rank is, what their population demographics are a bunch of different other rankings from other sources. And I think we came up with 76 cities that we think have a healthy enough business environment in the United States that they could support a podcast like this that has done weekly if we don’t focus specifically on startups, but focus on the general business ecosystem, specifically in that emerging business space. So if you think about 76 of those on the upside feed, you can imagine the unsubscribe button gets pretty easy to tap pretty quickly, because there’s 75 plus shows per week that are not interesting to you. So if we put these on different feeds, one we have differentiated and we can focus specifically on those local markets. So if we launch something in Las Vegas, that people who are interested in the Las Vegas business ecosystem can tune in specifically to that show, Upside itself will stay high level with the way that we describe. I always think this is funny, cuz the way that we describe a completed city on Upside is when we have three companies, two investors, and one community builder. And we’ve done that a total of one time, if we did everything perfectly, we would do this over the course of 10 years. That’s how long it would take us to do this.
Jay Clouse 13:51
And then our completed city has six interviews.
Eric Hornung 14:13
Yeah. So by doing this, we have the ability to do to go deep. With outside, we have the ability to go broad with these individual shows we have the ability to go deep, and that’s what I’m really excited about. Because we can bring some of that depth up to the top level at Upside.
Jay Clouse 14:35
And what I’m excited about is while Upside has been a part of the growing movement of hey, there’s opportunity across the country, there’s there’s opportunity everywhere. We’re bringing awareness to that opportunity. These localized shows can really empower and lift up communities. This is something where people can get behind their own city and see Oh, there’s things happening here. I want to be a part of that and plug in and support it and grow those individually cities more quickly. Upside focusing so broadly, will never be able to have that type of impact alone on one city. And these shows, genuinely can we think? So it’s really exciting.
Eric Hornung 15:11
Yeah, I think there’s a lot of people who are, there’s this idea of like, hardcore fans versus casual fans and how they overlap. And I think a lot of people are hardcore fans of their own cities, and casual fans of this movement that’s happening outside of Silicon Valley. So we can have more people be attuned to their local business climate. And this is another reason I think that we need a outsider, here or a rising star, because if we put someone who has a embedded interest in these communities, you’re just going to hear the same stories over and over and over again, because they’re already telling the same stories. For example, if we put a venture capital associate, who only focuses on El Paso, Texas, from an El Paso, Texas fund, you’re only going to hear about the things that matter to them. And not they’re not potentially stories that are outside of that. So what we want to do is focus on, you’re a hardcore fan of this city and the city’s business environment, we’re going to show you everything in this space. And we’re going to tell the stories of everything here, we’re not going to be a biased source at all.
Jay Clouse 16:17
So Eric, when when can people look forward to this.
Eric Hornung 16:21
So the network is going to roll out over the next couple years here. And I don’t think we have any intentions of stopping that. But if you’re interested in the betas to see what those look like, the Lay of the Land is going to launch at the end of November with a trailer and then the first week of December, I believe it’s December 3, with their first episode. And you can go to layoftheland.fm. to check that out. And in January, we’re going to be launching When Pigs Fly. So if you want to subscribe to that feed go to whenpigsfly.fm. And you can check that out and get on the list.
Jay Clouse 16:56
Yeah, pay attention to our feed here, we’ll let you know on the Upside feed when those shows are available. Those domains Eric, listen off might be a redirect right now give us some time. But that is where those shows will live in. Like we’ve said a couple of times now. If this is interesting to you, and exciting to you, and you’re in a different city across the country than what we just named Cincinnati and Cleveland. We’d love to talk to you. We’d love to see what it’s like to maybe get something going in your city. If that’s interesting to you. We’d love to hear what is interesting to you. and go from there. So Eric, kudos, buddy on getting this thing off the ground. Really exciting. Been working on it for months trailer sound great. It’s, it’s finally coming full circle.
Eric Hornung 17:36
Yeah, man, we could do any of it without you Jay. Honestly, the the playbook that is being launched is all your work. It’s the presentations that you’ve put together. It’s the work that you’ve done to learn about Upside. So without you, none of this would have been possible, it just would have been an idea in an unanswered Slack channel.
Jay Clouse 17:52
We’d love to hear your thoughts, dear listener on whether you think this idea makes sense. Think of us as our own company here that we usually talk to you on the show, you can email us Hello@upside.FM or tweet at us @upsideFM tell us if you think this is a good idea. Don’t you think it’s a bad idea? Tell us if you think there’s something we can improve upon this idea. We’d love to hear about it. And we’ll be talking to you next week. That’s all for this week. Thanks for listening. We’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s guest. So shoot us an email at email@example.com. or find us on Twitter @upsideFM. We’ll be back here next week at the same time talking to another founder and our quest to find upside outside of Silicon Valley. If you or someone you know would make a good guess for our show, please email us or find us on Twitter and let us know. And if you love our show, please leave us a review on iTunes. That goes a long way in helping us spread the word and continue to help bring high quality guests to the show. Eric and I decided there were a couple things we wanted to share with you at the end of the podcast. And so here we go. Eric Hornung and Jay Clouse are the founding parties of the Upside podcast. At the time of this recording. We do not own equity or other financial interest in the companies which appear on this show. All opinions expressed by podcast participants are solely their own opinion and do not reflect the opinions of Duffin Phelps LLC and its affiliates, Under Collective LLC and its affiliates or any entity which employ us. This podcast is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a basis for investment decisions. We have not considered your specific financial situation nor provided any investment advice on this show. Thanks for listening and we’ll talk to you next week.
We’re excited to share with you a major project that we’ve been working on behind the scenes! Starting in 2021, the upside podcast network will be launching a growing number of localized business podcasts.
The upside podcast network helps local teams to produce high-quality shows covering their local business ecosystems. Hosts on the ground will interview business leaders in their local communities, produced and supported by upside.
The journey begins this month with our first show: Lay of the Land. Hosted by Jeffrey Stern and TheTagan, Lay of the Land covers the Cleveland business community.
In this week’s episode, we’ll talk about why we’re building a network, what it means for the future of business podcasts, and how you can get involved.
Want to get in touch about your own show? Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn more about Upside: https://upside.fm