Podchaser, a startup building what it calls "IMDB for podcasts," recently announced that it has raised $4 million in a funding round led by Greycroft.
In other words, it's a site where — similar to the Amazon-owned Internet Movie Database — users can look up who's appeared in which podcasts, rate and review those podcasts and add them to lists. In fact, CEO Bradley Davis told me that the startup's "vibrant, exciting community of podcast nerds" have already created 8.5 million podcast credits in the database.
Davis said this is something he simply wanted to exist and was, in fact, convinced that it had to exist already. When he realized that it didn't, he posted on Reddit asking whether anyone was willing to build the company with him — which is how he connected with his eventual co-founder and CTO Ben Slinger in Australia. (Podchaser is a fully distributed company, with Davis currently based in Oklahoma City.)
To be clear, Davis doesn't think podcast nerds are the only ones taking advantage of the listings. Instead, he suggested that it's useful for anyone looking to learn more about podcasts and discover new ones, with Podchaser's monthly active users quintupling over the past year.
For example, he said that one of the most popular pages is politician Pete Buttigieg's profile, where visitors don't just learn about Buttigieg's own podcast but see others on which he's appeared. (You can also use Podchaser to learn more about TechCrunch's Equity, Mixtape and Original Content podcasts, though those profiles could stand to be filled out a bit more.)
There has been endless discussion about how to fix podcast discovery, and while Davis isn't claiming that Podchaser will solve it wholesale, he thinks it can be part of the solution — not just through its own database, but through the broader Podcast Taxonomy project that it's organizing.
"I think if we are successful at standardizing a lot of the terminology, and if we do an analysis of all podcasts, of how popular they are, that [will help many listeners] to cull and find the good stuff," he said.
Podchaser plans to add new features that will further encourage user contributions, like a gamification system and a discussion system.
While the consumer site is free, the startup recently launched a paid product called Podchaser Pro, which provides reach and demographic data across 1.8 million podcasts. It also monetizes by providing podcast players with access to its credits through an API.
Davis said the startup was "lucky" that it decided to build a database that's "agnostic" from any specific podcast player.
"So we had a lot of latitude to work with those platforms, we integrate with many of those platforms and you’re going to see a lot of our credits showing up [in podcast players]," he said.
In addition to Greycroft, Advancit Capital, LightShed Ventures, Powerhouse Capital, High Alpha, Hyde Park Venture Partners and Poplar Ventures also participated in the round, as did TrendKite founder A.J. Bruno, Ad Results Media CEO Marshall Williams and Shamrock Capital Partner Mike LaSalle.
"Even in the face of a pandemic, the podcast market continues to grow at a breakneck pace," said Greycroft co-founder and chairman Alan Patricof in a statement. "The demand from consumers and brands is insatiable. Podchaser’s data and discovery tools are crucial to taking podcasting to new heights."