Audioboo’s Mark Rock – Making The Spoken Word Social
I first heard of Audioboo via Paul O’Mahony on Twitter. Paul must be one of the most prolific Audioboo users. He introduced me to Mark Rock who created the social platform and immediately I wanted to know more – as I do. Living in London Mark has an extensive TV branding background and has previously led successful companies. Mark explains how he got the idea for Audioboo and how big it has grown in such a short time; he also shares some business tips and his favourite Audioboos.
I started a company called Static2358 in 1997 with a colleague. We focused on broadcast motion graphics and interactive technology. As one of the first company’s to use Apple Mac’s for the entire creation process, we were lucky enough to land the job of creating the on screen branding for FilmFour, Channel 4’s first digital only channel. The company then went on to rebrand Channel 4, Sky One, Star TV in Asia and many more. At the same time, we were creating an interactive TV division which worked for Teletext, QVC and Sky on applications for set top boxes.
Fusing these two disciplines together led us to launch PlayJam, a TV games Channel on Sky that allowed viewers to download simple games via their TV. We later rolled this brand out to cable in the UK, Canal+ and TPS in France and Cablevision in the US. We sold the business in 2001 to a large US company and I continued to work there as Chief Creative Officer till 2006.
What gave you the idea to create Audioboo?
Memory, or rather the loss of it. My mother died and all those vibrant memories of her’s – about the dogfights of Spitfires and Messerschimts above her Croydon home during the war or walking the Swiss Alps in the 50’s with my dad – were gone. When Channel 4 asked us to look at their nascent radio initiative in 2008, we came up with the idea of a mobile recorder, always with you, always capturing the most mundane of stuff but complete with core metadate like location, image, title etc. Very much an accidental startup.
Please can you explain what it does? How many users and Audioboos are there?
Audioboo is all about making sound social again. The spoken word is the key way culture, information, emotion has been exchanged since we first started to talk. In the era of social networks, it’s lost that power, as people tweet or video or take pictures. Audioboo allows you to capture high quality audio off a smartphone, add info to it and immediately upload to the web, where it can be effortlessly shared with your friends, family or the world.
We currently have about 500,000 registered users and many more unregistered. We have over a million individual audioboos from 220 countries and get around 150,000 listens a day, up 200% from 6 months ago.
We’ve been very lucky in attracting a lot of companies like BBC, Guardian, Royal OperaHouse, Christian Aid and British Library into an official partnership with Audioboo, as well as great individual users like Stephen Fry.
Can you give me 5 bullet points of advice for someone who has a great idea that they want to bring to fruition?
1. Get a partner with different skills than you. A creative needs a marketeer, a techno needs a commercial person.
2. Make something that is as simple a proff as possible and show it around. Don’t keep things to yourself.
3. Raise money early and don’t worry too much about your ownership percentage or valuation. You can sort that later.
4. Hire people better than you
5. Above all, enjoy yourself.
Which Social Media platform(s) have you found most useful for your business?
- Linked in for checking people out.
- Twitter for allowing a new kind of customer interaction.
- Facebook for knowing what my son is up to.
Have you any favourite Audioboos you can provide some links to with the reason why you think they are great?
Imogen Heap for showing a new way to connect with a fanbase.
This one, just to break your heart
Showing the human side of David Miliband
And our Delores for showing the power of the human voice
What is next on the agenda for Audioboo in 2013?
Far too much and most of it is secret. And most, actually, will happen before the end of this year. But personalisation, notifications, finally good UIX and reward are up there at the top.
Plus a holiday at last
Have you started using Audioboo yet? What do you think of it and do you have any questions for Mark?