Indie Hacker on the Unicorn Track🦄 | Riverside
Listen Up IH - Episode 28
"I want to build a billion dollar company"
That's Nadav Keyson's audacious vision for his startup Riverside.fm
Riverside is a tool to record studio-quality podcasts/interviews from anywhere with up to 4K Video & WAV Audio.
It's run by Nadav and his brother Gideon.
When they first launched Riverside on Product Hunt back in March 2020, they had just 2 paying customers.
But by September they had people like Hillary Clinton recording their podcasts using Riverside.
Riverside boasts of an esteemed customer base with people like Guy Raz, Ali Abdaal and Anthony Pmpliano using it to record their shows.
Even the Indie Hackers podcast itself is recorded using Riverside.
Earlier this year, Riverside raised $9.5 million in funding led by Alexis Ohanian - the cofounder of Reddit.
Nadav is looking to make Riverside into a dominant player in the creator economy.
And he is eyeing the big prize - the Unicorn status for his startup, a billion dollar valuation🦄
Their story 👇
The Failed Product🎧
Nadav and Gideon didn't start out wanting to build a podcasting platform.
Initially they had built a version of Clubhouse, way before Clubhouse went viral.
It was a debating platform where politicians could come on and debate each other.
A live audience could listen to the debate and ask questions. Pretty much like the live audio feature that most platforms have introduced post Clubhouse.
Nadav is based out of the Netherlands.
It was easy for him to get the Dutch politicians on to the debates, but harder to get the people to come on and listen in.
And way harder to get people to care about the product itself.
When they eventually stopped, it didn't bother anyone!
This is how Nadav describes it -
"when we stopped that debating platform, no one ever asked us, hey, where is it?"
Learning from early users👥
Nadav tried to pitch Riverside to podcasters and influencers as a way to have a live audience on their shows.
So people could call in and ask questions and join the discussion as the podcast was happening.
He thought this was a cool feature, and people would love the live aspect in podcasting.
But the feedback he got from his users was the exact opposite.
Podcasters didn't like the live aspect of the platform because it meant the hassle of getting a sizeable chunk of their audience on the live show.
Getting synchronous listeners is way harder than getting asynchronous listeners.
People cared way more about how good the recorded audio was.
So Nadav and Gideon decided to double down on that.
Riverside was getting slotted as a live audio tool back then. When in reality, it could so easily be used for recorded podcasts as well.
Listening to user feedback, Nadav and Gideon repositioned Riverside as a remote podcasting tool.
Remote audio was taking off during the pandemic.
Zoom was also taking off during the pandemic. It was the number one option for podcasters to record their shows.
But Zoom was designed to make the live calling experience great. It didn't focus much on the post-call recorded audio/video quality.
That's why Zoom calls were recorded in the cloud, not locally.
Riverside tried to find their technological moat here.
The Tech Moat💪
Gideon figured out a way to record the participant audio and videos locally on their computers and then upload them to the cloud after the recording.
This meant that the quality of the recorded files was top notch.
Even on a choppy internet connection, where the live call might not be as good, podcasts recorded through Riverside looked and sounded beautiful.
No other player was doing this.
Riverside's home page takes on Zoom head on.
It displays the recorded video quality on Riverside and Zoom.
On one side the Zoom video fluctuates in quality based on the internet speed, while on the other side, the Riverside video is at 4K all the time, whatever be the internet speed.
That's a high impact landing page strategy.
Nadav says if you find a point of focus that's working, double down on that -
"a lesson to indie hackers. If you find that focus point, go double down on the focus, even though there may be competitors in the markets, you just need to have some kind of edge over competitors."
Find your edge!
Different types of moats -
- Network Moat - Social platforms such as Twitter or Instagram get better with ever new member signing up. Indie Hackers itself enjoys a strong network moat, it's very hard for any other bootstrapped founder community to compete with it, because new members would prefer the existing proven community over a new one.
- Technological Moat - Not may Indie Hackers can enjoy this, as their solutions are relatively easier to build by anyone else. But Riverside has it, they found their edge in a technique nobody else was using and built a moat around it.
- Growth as Moat - Nadav thinks, after a certain size, growth itself becomes a moat and it gets very hard for copycats to compete with a fast growing startup.
Riverside's growth has mostly been through word of mouth.
Hillary Clinton's producer found out about the tool and started using it for Hillary's podcast - 'You and Me Both'.
Nadav personally helped out Hillary with her recording setup and gave the team good service overall.
In return he earned a shoutout from the politician herself.
Now he uses that quote as social proof on the homepage.
Riverside is a tool with word of mouth marketing built in.
Like a Hallmark greeting card.
When you give it to someone, you're essentially advertising Hallmark as well.
Podcasters love to have each other on as guests to increase their reach. And when they do they are exposed to the tools that each of them uses.
That's how word about Riverside spread within the podcasting industry.
Nadav wants to build Riverside up to a billion dollar company.
It' audacious, admirable and quite possible.
This is how Nadav describes his vision -
"...our future vision is really to empower a power creators to very easily create content. That means, for example, it's going to be creating a podcast. It can be creating videos. There's so much content being created and we want to be the company that's empowering these people creating all this content."
Advice for Indie Hackers🤗
Nadav's advice to fledgling Indie Hackers is to not lose heart, start small, and go from one tiny win to the next -
" Don't let all these big companies discourage you to go all in on what you're wanting to do, because oftentimes it just starts with a very small project then it gets some traction. Having initial traction, that really gives so much motivation to keep going, at least for me. Having even one paying customer, it doesn't even really matter what you're doing, but having just a paying customer, I think that gives so much external motivation to keep going. You don't know where you're going to end.
Lessons from Riverside's story 👇
- If a product isn't getting traction, reposition the value prop.
- Early user feedback is crucial for figuring out the right product to build. (Exactly what we saw with Hypefury)
- A Tech advantage can work, if you figure out the right problem to solve early enough.
- Word of Mouth is the strongest form of marketing.
- Indie Hackers riding the creator economy wave will flourish. (like we saw with Hypefury, Veed, Closet Tools, and Gumroad)
- Podcast setup as a service - help out newbies podcasters the right equipment for their show, depending on their budget. (Cashflow Podcasting is doing something like this)
- Live audio to Podcast - Tools to plugin into the live audio platforms like Clubhouse and Twitter spaces and record the audio for later publishing.
- Podcast Cross Promotion platform - A platform to match similar podcasts with each other for cross promotion. I can submit my podcast and see other shows with similar niche and audience size and contact the host.
- Website builder for podcasts - Podpage is doing something like that.
- Be bold enough to take on the big players. Riverside's homepage takes on Zoom openly.
- Keep building stuff even after failures, Gideon and Nadav were building startups for 5 years before Riverside took off.
- Be persistent in your pitches, Nadav DMed everyone he admired, and requested them to try out his product. And he didn't give up even when folks denied him initially.
- Indie Hackers can build Unicorns, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.🦄
Total Traffic -
Primary Channel - Direct
Secondary Channel - Search (72% organic and 28% paid)
And they even ran paid google ads for the name of their competitor - Zencastr.
They are writing articles that target long tail keywords like "how to start a podcast" -
r/podcasting subreddit, the total size is not very large, but the growth is promising.
This is one of the most popular memes in this subreddit this year, all these problems can have tools or services -
"Me trying to setup my website, RSS feed, YouTube channel, instagram content, audio interface, video capture card, learn lighting, learn audio recording and mastering, interview skills, and marketing."
Micro SaaS acquisition opportunities on microqcquire.com -
- Value Prop - SaaS platform that enables content creators to record remote interviews in great quality.
- Users - 100-1000
- Key Assets - Website
- Revenue Last month - $3500
- Profit Last month - $3500
- ARR - $40K
- Asking Price - "Open to Offers"
- Value Prop -Transcription platform that converts podcast audio to text in mere minutes at a relatively affordable rate.
- Users - 100-1000
- Key Assets - Website + Social Media Accounts
- Revenue Last month - $100
- Profit Last month - $80
- ARR - $2K
- Asking Price - "Open to Offers"
- Value Prop -MicroSaaS that turns any website into an episode in your personal podcast feed. News articles, long-form essays, and videos all become easier to consume in podcast form.
- Users - 100-1000
- Key Assets - Website + Social Media Accounts + Mobile App
- Revenue Last month - $50
- Profit Last month - $30
- ARR - $150
- Asking Price - "Open to Offers"
- How an Indie Hacker Landed Enterprise Customers in Year One with Nadav Keyson of Riverside.fm | Indie Hackers Podcast
- Riverside 2.0 Product Hunt Launch
- Podcast recording platform Riverside.fm raises $9.5M | Techcrunch
- Riverside Ubersuggest report
- Riverside Similarweb report
Thank You for Reading🙏
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ICYMI : Last week I wrote about Hypefury
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Thanks to Seth King for editing this post
Photo credit Forbes
Reddit trend chart courtesy undertheradar.io