Swell Broadcast Company is a new media broadcasting company specializing in podcasts and web video shows.
What was holding you back from being an entrepreneur?
Joe: Thank you Murugan. First of all, this is the first time I’ve ever been interviewed so this is pretty cool since I interview people on a regular basis. Anyway, what was holding me back from being an entrepreneur was that I was in the nine to five job in a corporate system and I was just really holding on to that security that was there. I had recently lost a job and I was just applying like crazy for the next similar job which was doing something for somebody else’s dream. Somebody once told me that you know you can either do your own dream and fulfill your own dream or fulfill somebody else’s. I read this book called Choose Yourself by James Altucher. It was the best thing I have ever read. Basically, he just inspires you to go and fulfill your dreams. What was holding me back; I was just afraid of the security you have from not being an entrepreneur. In the book, James points out like there’s really not any security wherever you go and you are not 100% sure that you’re going to keep your job from this moment to the next based on a million different factors. He empowers you to think outside of that box and really more on about how I’m going to create opportunities for myself. I’m not going to wait for the work to be handed to me that I don’t even want to do. Therefore, that illusion of security was holding me back and, once I realized that I couldn’t work as hard on my own things, I was inspired to be an entrepreneur.
Tess: What was holding me back from being an entrepreneur was that I had just gotten out of college and my interests were so widespread; I loved the audio, I loved singing and performing, I loved writing, I loved making documentaries, I loved all these different little niches here and there, but I didn’t know what I was really good at. Instead of really pushing myself to become something, I kind of stayed stagnant; worked a nine-to-five job at a coffee shop. I got to meet all sorts of crazy people and it was spectacular. However, it then got to the point where you start thinking, I have these passions and I have all this creative energy and I need to let that out somehow. In taking all these things I learned in college and all my passions and the talent that I do have, I thought about what I could do to make my passion project into a career. To become an entrepreneur, I kind of had to get out of my own way in order to push myself enough to say to myself; you need to do something with yourself and really push yourself. Sometimes you need an opportunity to come knocking on your door and kick you in the rear end a little bit and actually Joe was that for me. He came from left field and said, “You’re working at a coffee shop and you clearly have a lot of talent. What are you doing with yourself? You talk all the time?” I never shut up. He said, “Why don’t you talk for money. Just go and talk. Get the podcast up and running. Why don’t you just go for it? Do it.” And that’s what I’m doing.
What was your worst entrepreneurial moment? How did you get clarity and know what to do next and kind of push beyond that?
Tess: One of the worst moments so far for Swell was really trying to figure out what this is, how to market it, what we’re doing, and how to bring it to the table. That’s aside from the given which is funding and trying to figure out where to start. The worst moment that I have had doing this is was during the first Swell interview: you don’t know if your equipment is working, you don’t know if you’re asking the right questions, and you don’t know if anything is going to work. You really just don’t know what you’re doing the first time around and that was like one of the scariest and worst moment for us.
Joe: To answer that second part how do we gain clarity and know what to do next. My friend Craig Laughlin who started an advertising company, has this thing that says, “The self-fulfilling prophecy.” Basically, if you give, it will come back to you like the concept of karma. We got this opportunity on Twitter from Dana Johnson of Mainstream Green. She creates advertising on how people can help the environment. She asked us to help her as a way to get exposure and not for any monetary gain. Tess immediately had the good attitude and she said, “Let’s do it, we can get exposure from her company.”
Tess: We’re very environmentally driven.
Joe: I was thinking more like a business and I didn’t know if we wanted to invest our time and she was like, “No we’ve got to do it.” We met with Dana and she was really awesome. I knew she was a marketing master, but we then found out that she invented the Captain Morgan brand. While we were helping her out in a meeting, she said to us, “What do you guys need? How can I help you?” She then helped us go through the process of identifying our brand. In that little anecdote, it was just that story of if you give; it will come back to you.
Tess: That was also a pretty bad moment where we were trying to explain to her what we do only to have her look at us very confused. It felt like a kick in the chest and we thought we had a setback. However, she took the time to break it down for us and help us see how we needed to focus on developing our brand.
Joe: By the end of our conversation with her, she brought us clarity and we were inspired to really push ourselves to create a brand that best represents our business.
Tess: The clarity she provided for us made us question ourselves which in turn helped us develop a stronger business.
Joe: Also, the reason that we were having a conversation with her was because we were going to present at 1 Million Cups. We were like what are we going to pitch at 1MC? We knew we had to come up with something that everyone could understand in six minutes or less. The way we were talking at the beginning, she didn’t even understand us.
Tess: That was definitely the worst moment I think for us so far.
Joe: We took the plunge to present at 1 Million Cups because, Leisha Doherty who came by who does the communications for CoWorks and 1 Million Cups and was like “Guys nobody signed up for next week. You guys want to do it?” We were in the initial stages of the company and we were not sure about doing it. Then my gut reaction told me that we should, because it’s about getting advice, it’s not about having all the answers.
Tess: The best time to get advice is when you’re in the starting phase and when you’re not established. This way you have room to take in what others are saying and take constructive criticism in a positive way.
Joe: Yeah, because it’s like a sculpture that’s still wet, you know before it dries up and becomes more difficult to mold.
What did you get out of presenting at 1MC?
Tess: I would say being able to present in front of a full room of entrepreneurs. It really makes you feel confident; it makes you feel like you’re being accepted in a community of people who know your struggles. They know where you’re starting and have been in your shoes. It was extremely insightful and very enlightening. It also made me realize how much I freaking love public speaking.
Joe: As part of the preparation for 1 Million Cups, they make you fill this questionnaire that was really helpful. One of the key questions was what are you expecting to get out of this. When we went into the pitch, it was more like this is what we’re doing, can you help us? We identified that what we were looking for was marketing ideas like how to reach our target audience better and how to promote our shows. We ended up getting a lot of great answers to our questions.
Tess: 1 Million Cups was a really great group for me, because they ask you the right questions that you probably will overlook yourself. It gives you so many marketing and networking opportunities.
Joe: The networking was definitely valuable. I was also going to say what did we get out of it? I’m not afraid of anything, but I was nervous that we were going to get a lot of negative feedback; like you guys suck, you don’t really know what you’re doing but it was completely the opposite. We got this great support system where everybody was saying awesome and supportive things to us.
Tess: Everybody that was there wanted to listen about your business and help you to be as successful as possible. 1 Million Cups provided the opportunity to jump start us in the right direction.
Joe: The feedback didn’t stop when the presentation was over; the whole day we were hearing from others about their support and suggestions.
How can someone reading this help you?
Joe: We are looking for listeners and we want them to stay updated on what we’re doing. You can follow us on Twitter, check out our Facebook page, and our website. You can also email us if you have any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are also creating a platform for business to be able to advertise to our listener demographic. If you’re a business that you know needs exposure, feel free to contact us. We’re also partnering with a PR firm to help us provide that service.
Tess: Also people can contact us if they want to produce their own podcast show with us.