Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Noah Labhart - I’m a startup founder, CTO, and podcast host of the up and coming startup show, Code Story. On the show, I interview tech visionaries, uncovering the gritty details in building the next big digital thing. I've interviewed startup CTOs, CEOs, founding engineers, and tech visionaries about how they built their MVP's, scaled them, matured them, and built the teams to support their startups.
We are currently 88 episodes in and are working on early edits for Season 4, starting in January of 2020. We've interviewed individuals from digital startups of all shapes and sizes, and have amazing guests such as Courtland Allen of Indie Hackers, George Deglin of OneSignal, Tim Specht of Dubsmash, Ryan Graciano of Credit Karma, and Chris Slowe of Reddit.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I have a passion for solution architecture. Having worked in many leadership roles over the past 13 years, I’ve gained vast experience in software implementation – from web applications to mobile apps to platform architecture. The sweet spot for me is creating solutions that impact people's lives and doing so by applying development best practices, methodologies, and building world-class user experiences. When I’m not being a geek or reading old calculus books, I can be found chasing after my beautiful bride, being chased by my kids, enjoying a good cup o’ joe, reading good fiction, or being outdoors.
Just jump out and do it. The more you wait, the more likely someone else is going to do it and beat you to the punch.
Why do I love building software? It's the intersection of the left and right brain, technology meets creativity, engineering meets art – the balance between structure and a free spirit. But more than what it does for me, I enjoy seeing lives impacted by creative technology and elegant solutions.
I’m a graduate of Texas A&M University, with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and a bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics. I also hold an MBA from the University of Texas at Arlington. After spending 8 years in Corporate America - learning a ton and gaining valuable skills and experience - I got the itch to jump on my own, to start my entrepreneurial journey.
My passion for communication, especially in surfacing human stories in building technology comes from my own experiences building startups. There are many highs and lows of startups, and most of the tales you hear are from the business side of things. What if find most interesting is the stories from the trenches of building the products themselves, and the “how” they went about making decisions and dealing with how the chips fell.
I started this show because I love How I Built This with Guy Raz. What I found though, was that a show like this didn't exist for tech bent or startup people. So I created it. The show is a hybrid narrative/interview-style podcast, with music backing the interview to create an emotional response and connect the audience with different aspects of the episode and the story from the tech visionaries’ perspective.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
I decided to interview my long time friend, college roommate, and successful tech entrepreneur Rylan Barnes for the first interview. He came over in October 2018, where we had some scotch and talked tech for 2 hours! That was quite a lot of interview recording to editing, and it is my first episode, I was being super idealistic and trying to perfect the editing, music, and structure of the episode. So much so - that it took me 8 months to get 50% of the first episode done.
This would not work.
I decided to get out of my own way and hire a post-production editor for seasons 1 and 2. They did a phenomenal job and freed me up to give guidance, conduct interviews, and establish the direction and promotion of the show. As of Season 3, I’m back on my own doing the editing, but would not be in the place I am without the amazing editing support of George Mocharko for Season 1, and Bradley Denham of Record Edit Podcast for Season 2.
Other things that have changed is the podcast format itself, and the timing. I now release at least 1 episode per week, sometimes 2. And, the teaser, intro, and guest overview sections have “hardened” so to speak, meaning, I’ve figured out what works and what flows the best with these three sections.
Describe the process of launching the business.
When I launched the podcast, I had a little idea of the mechanics for getting a podcast live. You need to have a hosting provider, you need to submit your RSS feed to a bunch of directories, etc., etc. - a piece of cake. And then, Voila! Downloads, subscribers and listens just come pouring in.
That was not the case.
Just like a product, a startup, or a great idea - people needed to be told about the podcast. I needed a way to promote the show, to market it, to let the masses know this was the tech visionary and startup podcast they were looking for. In all transparency, I’m still trying to figure out the formula that looks like, though there have been somethings that have worked.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
The best way I have found to get people to listen, subscribe, and be a part of the show is to be active in the communities where these listeners exist. I post regularly on Indie Hackers about the show’s progress, episode releases, etc. I make sure that my podcast shows up in every podcast platform available, including Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and any others that pop up. And, I’m active on LinkedIn, which is also where I do a lot of sourcing of guests for my show.
As far as what I’m creating, I think the sincerity and relaxed nature of the conversations is what attracts listeners. These are stories from the trenches of building world-class tech products, which are largely untold outside of tech circles. Some people find it interesting to know how the carpenter uses a saw and hammer to build a house - likewise, some want to know what tools a tech visionary uses to bring a solution to life. Both want to know what that person went through - as a human - to make it live and breathe.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today, the show is growing. It has been downloaded over 80k times, with an average of 1,000 downloads per episode. We have a great SEO presence, and attract a lot of attention daily for those looking. We have established several ad deals through different channels, which helps create positive revenue and profit every month - around $1k a month revenue on average.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Through starting this podcast, I have learned a ton about podcasting itself. It's very similar to the startup world that I report on - you can’t just build something and expect people to listen to your show / buy your product. You have to earn every download, you have to be involved and go where your listeners are and most of all, you have to give them something of value.
I’ve also learned through the people that I’ve interviewed that many people have similar stories when building world-changing technology. They’ve gone through similar steps, had to make similar decisions, made sorta the same mistakes, and would give sorta the same advice!
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I use LinkedIn and email for my scheduling and sourcing of people to interview, though I have gotten a great influx of people asking to be on the show now.
From a podcasting standpoint, I use RedCircle for hosting, Podcorn for advertising deals, Logic X for editing, Clipgain for mastering, Slack for listener community, and Patreon for listener support. Oh, and I have a Tee Public store too, for those that like podcasting gear!
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
As I mentioned before, Guy Raz and his podcast, How I Built This was the cornerstone and inspiration of how I went about creating and producing the show. I’m also a podcast junkie, so there are several other shows that I really like how they are done that I can mention - Darknet Diaries with Jack Rhysider, Nathan Latka, and his show on Entrepreneurship, Robinhood Snacks, and Coffee & Coding with Rob Joseph.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
The best advice I can give is not to wait - just jump out and do it. The more you wait, the more likely someone else is going to do it and beat you to the punch. There have been several ideas that I’ve had in my head, or that others asked me to help with, that I didn’t take advantage of - and then someone else did it, and did it well. The barriers to entry for creating podcasts, blogs, startups, products, or anything - is very low these days. Just get started.
Where can we go to learn more?
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