15th March 2010
I’ve spent the last few months working with a talented team of developers and managers at AudioBoo.fm
This multi-award winning service defies description in a wonderful sort of way. Whatever definition you try to pin it down to someone says ah yes . . but it’s also for that . . and this . . and this.
Sticking to the facts is safer : Audioboo is a series of mobile phone and downloadable PC Apps that let you quickly post your details and picture, a camera phone picture, your GPS location on a map and several minutes of really high quality audio recording to the website at audioboo.fm. You can put the whole package together and be on the web with it in under a minute !
From there you can let anyone admire it – or get it from iTunes or link it into a blog or website or twitter or facebook or posterous or . . . anything.
You can record via a smartphone or a dumb old landline phone, or record on your laptop or PC. Basically if you have something to say AudioBoo will help you capture it ! Then you link to it on our site like this AudioBoo or to be really clever stay on your own page, like this : Listen!
People have fallen in love with AudioBoo : easily capturing sound clips for their friends, diaries, blogs etc. Also an impressive group of actors, writers, numerous broadcasters from the BBC, Channel 4 and other international media and PR organisations have used it too, for fans and features, for on-the-spot reporting and particularly for immediate low profile coverage in ‘challenging environments’ like the G20 summit and with the Army in Afghanistan.
Wherever and whatever the use it’s been described as “a must-have” and “priceless” for it’s simple uncluttered effectiveness and reliability.
So what was I doing there ? Firstly as you may know I have a long-term affinity for new social trends that dates back to the first carphones (!), being among the first to see SMS Text messaging as a potentially huge phenomenon rather than a technical protocol and being probably THE first to stand up and declare that mobile 3G would indeed have it’s day despite the doubters!
That meant that when I first met the AudioBoo team over an escalating series of coffees and chats I immediately saw that rare but wonderful thing – an innovation so new yet so simple and obvious it doesn’t need a handbook or sales pitch.
Audioboo’s tens of thousands of contributors and hundreds of thousands of listeners also ‘just saw it’ and got it and recommended it to all their friends. Within months the Telegraph were placing us alongside Skype, Facebook and Twitter in their Top 10 social apps.
That widespread ‘wow’ factor is probably one reason why SMARTA put us in their top 100 venture capital funded start-ups list in early 2010. And why PC pro then made our year in March 2010 by making us their #1 SmartPhone App EVER.
A second reason for my involvement was that at the end of 2009 – alongside a pretty ambitious product and service development roadmap – we had started what turned out to be an extremely challenging fund raising process.
Following the classic venture capital investment model meant high-stakes pitches, a continually evolving business plan, telephone conferences, due-diligence presentations, investor meetings, legal wrangling, false dawns, cashflow crises, terms sheets, capital tables and a last 2 months of wrangling and unexpected delays.
Finally we were able to complete the deal on the 4th of June.
It has been said that pulling a major VC round off at all these days was a huge success : Against the economic climate, plunging exchange rates, the 100:1 odds of a VC presentation leading to eventual investment and so on we raised a very impressive sum from a very impressive set of investors and enthusiastic backers.
Along the way huge commitments had been made by the team in cash, speculative work and personal loyalty and sacrifice to a project that at times looked as if it might be lost. Going forward that sort of commitment should make us pretty unstoppable.
I must also mention how I have been touched by the spontaneous and generous support we have received all along from world famous celebrities like Stephen Fry and Robert Llewellyn, DJ’s, bloggers, reporters, broadcasters and commentators, believers, reviewers, campaigners, mums, dads and thousands of ordinary people who just like the way we ‘give their words wings’.