Guestio closed on $1.5 million in seed funding for its platform that simplifies the booking process for podcasts.
Founder and CEO Travis Chappell said users can go on the platform and book guests for their shows at the click of a button in all kinds of topics and with shows big or small.
Chappell is himself a podcaster, hosting an entrepreneur show called “Build Your Network.” Having done almost 700 episodes over the past several years, he found that in the process of leveling up the type of guest he wanted to have on the show became increasingly difficult.
Podcasting is projected to be a $1 billion industry this year, with more than 118 million Americans tuning in each month in 2021. It's no surprise that access to super inaccessible people is a challenge, but seeing the success of apps like Cameo, Chappell thought there could be a better way for podcasters.
He launched Guestio in 2020 as a booking marketplace. Users can go in as a podcaster and book someone for a number of different purposes. On the flip side, talent can use the app to book shows and also advertise what they are doing, like having a book coming out and wanting to do a book tour.
Guestio’s current business model retains 20% of the booking fees with the remainder going to the booker or talent. It also launched a new feature that enables guests to charge for marketing the interviews they do and is poised to unveil a new "mini endorsement" feature where businesses can buy audio or video endorsements from celebrities to use for things like ad campaigns, Chappell said.
“We are also putting in more subscription tiers so that people who are needing a constant inflow of guests for a show can pay a monthly fee,” he added. “We also are coming out with ‘Guestio credits’ that people can use to book interviews or pitch an idea.”
Backers of the company include angel investors like John Lee Dumas, David Meltzer, Matt Barnes, Joel Marion, Zvi Band, Ross Paquette and Josh Snow.
Dumas, founder and host of the “Entrepreneurs on Fire” podcast, said he has known Chappell since 2017, and when he heard the idea for Guestio, wanted to be a part of it. He, too, struggled with accessing highly qualified people to be on his show, while also finding it difficult to vet podcasters to see if they were a right fit.
“This is really for any platform,” he added. “The booking mechanism fits across all platforms, and going forward, as more people are comfortable with the virtual platform, a company like Guestio is going to be at the forefront. They are already a leader in the space right now and one of the first to do this at a high level and will be one that people continue to go for.”
Guestio’s platform has close to 3,000 users and has done close to $200,000 in revenue over the past five months, according to Chappell. He intends to use the new funding to build out the company’s lean workforce, invest in marketing and continue software development.
His next goals are to focus on the talent side of the marketplace to add more features for guests looking to book themselves on shows. Similar booking platforms charge a high dollar amount per appearance on podcasts, but are not transparent about what that entails, he said. Guestio collects data on podcasts, and as a result, is able to provide details on audience and other insights so that talent can make better decisions.
“I’m proud of my team that we have been able to pull off some of these bigger deals and bring revenue into this stage,” Chappell added.