Kaliki: The Audio Newsstand. An Interview With Tirrell Payton
Bruce Hopkins and Tirrell Payton were both consultants who shared a love of mobile technology and audio information. Together they created Kaliki, the new spoken word platform that allows consumers to access their favorite audio news and information content on-demand, anytime – in-car, online, and on the go. They are partnering with North America’s leading publishers, broadcasters, and producers to bring their content to the dashboards of millions of daily in-vehicle consumers. Being chosen by major automakers Kaliki is now rolling-out across the US and Canada as part of the industry’s connected car initiative.
I interviewed Tirrell Payton to find out how they came up with this idea, what it involves and what advice he would give to other inventors…..and to his younger self.
Kaliki started as a product called BlogRadio and was positioned as a product to turn any blog into a podcast. The idea was, “I like to read all these blogs, but I don’t have time…” This was interesting, and even got some press, but the team sat back and thought, “We can do better. Text to speech is interesting from a technology perspective, but its not engaging”.
Then we had an epiphany… one of the most engaging ways for humans to share information, stories, myths, history, and legends is by talking. Before writing, before reading, before the invention of libraries and great scholars, there were stories. There was audio.
So we started down the path of creating a complete system of transforming text content into audio content using real live professional narrators. We used our technology background to create a robust platform to bring this vision to life. We looked at the problem of why audio wasn’t more widely available, and reimagined a solution to this issue basing the platform on technology.
Audio is the most natural way for humans to share information with each other. Even before a baby is born, it is tuned to the sound of its mother’s voice. This philosophy carried forward to how Kaliki came to be. Every day, millions of people in the US wake up, step over their newspapers, hop into their car, and turn on the radio to get information. Today with Kaliki, they can hop in their car, and turn on the radio to hear the newspaper, weather, local up to the minute traffic, sports, and their favorite magazines.
How long does it take to create an app like this – from idea to first download?
I can’t speak for everyone, but in our case, about 3 years. When we started, we didn’t have any idea about connected vehicles, and we actually didn’t know how far we would be able to take this, but momentum builds upon itself, and 3 years later here we are. Often times when a person starts a project, they think “Hey in 3 months things will be great”. It’s not true. It takes time to explore a high quality idea. An idea is not a product. A product is not a business. To go from idea to product to business takes years typically.
You’ve recently collaborated with Ford – did you plan to partner with a car manufacturer from the start?
It was not a part of the original plan, but it was an opportunity that came about, and as we became aware of what the auto manufacturers were doing, it made perfect sense, as an audio product, to partner with them.
What is on the agenda for Kaliki next?
More content, more partnerships, more customer delight!
What advice would you give to anyone with an innovative idea for an app?
Give your ideas time to incubate. Be flexible in your approach, and critical of any holes in your idea. Build something as quickly as possible so you can have a vehicle to have others help you explore your ideas. Pay attention to the environment, there may be an opportunity that helps you see your idea differently. Most of all, have fun and work on things that interest you.
When and where do you brainstorm your ideas?
I usually have my best ideas when I’m away from work, away from the computer.. such as when I am going for a run.
If yourself now could give advice to yourself when you were starting out in business what would you tell your younger self to do differently?
DONT DO IT!!!! Just kidding. Advice I would give to my former self would be, “Be patient, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Success is predicated on stamina”.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this interview and if you have any questions for Tirrell about Kaliki or their business I’m sure he’ll be happy to answer below.