Average to Savage
Average to Savage

Episode · 8 months ago

Aaron P. Woods | Average to Savage EP143


This is the one hundred and forty-third episode of the Average to Savage podcast featuring entrepreneur Aaron P. Woods. Paul Guarino talked with Aaron P. Woods discussing his road from engineering to the technology world, why he founded Podpal, and what's next for Podpal. 

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This podcast interview with Aaron P. Woods was originally recorded on September 24, 2021

...this is the average to Savage podcast with paul Guerrino, everyone in anyone athletes, celebs and much more what's up everybody, I'm back for another episode of the average Savage podcast. Our special guest today is Aaron P Woods erin, how's it going? There's really good, how you doing good, Yeah, I appreciate you coming on. So you're the founder of pod pod pal, could you give me a brief background of what pod palace and then how you came about it for sure man, Pop how is the only one podcast management platform? We make it easy for podcast, was the plan publish and promote the show without all the stress and clutter man. And I know you can relate with that because you're one of the people that I interviewed when we first kind of trying to go through the problem analysis and understand what podcasters really wanted. Uh and so you know, how this idea came about actually was you know, my wife Tonya was starting her podcast and she was trying to get to show off the ground and ran into some of those administrative burden of podcasting, you know, and a lot of podcasters are burning out because of all the stuff, there's there's there's not just sitting down behind this mic recording the show like we're doing now, you have to schedule me, we have a line, a line, our calendars, you know, there's there's making sure that you have your show notes in place and you know, releasing on time, there's a lot of bookkeeping and a lot of sort of organization for a for a very productive show, you know, and show that releases regularly. And so what pop out does is really bring that organization management productivity uh to the forefront of of our application to make it easier for people to stay on track and keep making awesome content like we're doing right now. Yeah, definitely. Like I could just, even going back to when I first started, it was just like funny because I just bought like a mike and then I was literally, I was just doing audio at the time and I was literally calling people and then I just put the mic up to the phone, like straight up, like it's great, it's crazy to think about now because it's just like funny but um that's how I was doing that first and then, you know, just like learning stuff. I mean the same thing like you said, like just like there's so much stuff like even I don't remember how long our session was, but I'm pretty sure it ran over because we talked for like probably like an hour or more just about everything. And and so yeah, just like crazy. And and then, you know like the other like I guess uh myth is that people think like podcasting is easy to do. So that's like that's like pretty, pretty funny like yeah, it's easy once you get set up and miked up and all that, but then like you said like the after publishing and editing and getting it already and timing everybody up and things like that. Um So yeah, I know you uh I know you have a tech background and you have an engineering background, so tell me, tell me a little bit how you got into, well I'm assuming you went to school for engineering and then you got into tech. Yeah, exactly. So you know, it's funny I guess average the savage that relates, I relate to that that phrase quite a bit, even though I don't, I don't I never considered myself average didn't point, but uh you know, I always seem to be above average but um with respect to technology, you know, I was very average, you know I would I started out here and uh engineering, you know structural engineering, civil in the civil discipline. And so I was doing building design out in Seattle. Um actually one of my first projects was to help design amazon's headquarters out there Seattle which was pretty dope. Um but you know that that's a completely different way of utilizing that problem solving background than where, you know, people are coding different languages, there's product management, there's all these other aspects of, of technology that I didn't really understand and so I had to really grow and and that and the way I did that was really just starting, starting my own business is you know being an entrepreneur getting out there and actively putting and put it into practice the things that I was reading about, the things that I was studying on the side, you know, while I was working for these other big engineering company.

Yeah, for sure, yeah, I even did some research and, and there's an article and says not your average engineer, so it backs up what you said, huh? Yeah, because you know, at the end of day I do feel like engineering and it boils down to this, boils down to being a problem solver and being understanding problem well, and then putting together a solution in a unique way that actually solves that real problem, right? And so as a, as a structural engineering, as a researcher back in college when I'm doing my message and stuff back, you t you know, I would be in the lab and how to do experiments and you know, uh iterate and try to try to continue changing different controls of the experiment to determine what was the actual solution. And so all of that has really helped me when it comes to the development pop out because you know, actually do have those fundamental skills, it's just that, you know, I wasn't utilizing them in that particular field, right? So it's just like somebody who plays, you know, to play soccer, you know, who might have the agility, but they've never played american football, you know, but they also have a lot of agility and swiftness because of the type of sport that they play. So I'm trying to be an athlete, you know, and I consider myself that so that's where they're not much average here comes from is just being able to play multiple positions and use that knowledge in in a very unconventional way. So that's what we're doing now. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. I mean that's funny that you said that. So just like I saw the, you know like the quote that it says like uh Jack of all trades, master of none. Right? But then like the full quote is like a jack of all trades is a master of none but often better than a master of one. Mm Yeah. So I like that and I like that you said that because like I feel like you know with all the things you've already done you, I mean you're Jack of all trades so and then just going into all this, I know you've been, you've been doing it since 2018, right? You created it. Yeah. So now like what is the, what is the journey been like just um starting up your own business and um like what are some obstacles that you overcome and and things of that nature? Yeah, that's a good question um ah I don't even know how to really, really, really start with that because like being as you know, founding anything and bringing up something from the dirt is very difficult. One of the biggest difficulties that I found is getting other people to believe in your vision right? Like especially in today's society where everybody wants to be an entrepreneur, everybody has a side thing that they're doing their influencer of this, they've got, you know, this concentration channel they're doing over here, this podcast. So you know, going out and find another talent to join you in the beginning phases. I find it's pretty challenging because people are pretty ambitious these days. That's just like, you know, the dream that's being proliferated all over our, you know, society and media. So that was really difficult. I was fortunate to find a couple of humble individuals to say, you know, Ariel, see what you see and I want to, I want to wake up with you to help build this. Um, so, so, and that's a huge part of why we, while we're sitting here today with the actual working software versus last time I talked to you, which was still prototypes and you know, we were clicking around and basically screenshots and so I'm really grateful for that part of the journey and learning how to basically put my vision together in such a way that others could get excited about that. They could get inspired and see that, wow, this isn't just, you know, some idea, you just kind of came up with, this is pretty full, Fully fleshed out. Like I did quite a bit of research with folks like yourself, you were like one of 12 people that I sat down and talked with at length to really formulate the problem statement, for for that right? And so when I was going out and recruiting some talent, I showed them all that video, I actually put it a condensed version of that together set where they could see, wow, this is this is actually pretty bedded like you and talk to people who did research, you spend some money on this. You know, if you don't invest in your business, you can't expect other people to invest in your, and that goes all the way down to talent, all the way up to investors,...

...you know, so you have to put in the work and you know, do some of that, do some of that grunt work and back leg works that way. People can really see the vision that you see in your mind. Um, so that's been one of the things that really been a big part of the journey. Um, I don't know, I guess secondly, uh, learning, you know, obviously to hear, no, uh, you know, being okay with that, being okay with the fact that everybody is not going to see it. A lot of people are gonna say, you know, I don't, I don't really get it, everybody doesn't have to get it, it comes down to you getting it and um really making sure that you, you do take a, what I call it this passionate evaluation of your ideas, right? Because ideas are a diamond doesn't everybody has ideas, but it's going out and validating. Is it a real problem? And is this something that you're solving in a way that people want, you know, you can't get caught up and just, oh, I love my baby because I had the baby you have to see, do other people really understand mostly your customers and your customer understand what it is that you're trying to deliver and do they see the same value in it that you do? Um, I think that's really important in terms of all the other the stairs or friends or investors or other people who may or may not see it, that really doesn't matter? Does your customer understanding? Do they see it? Do they agree with? Yeah, yeah, for sure. I'm sure you've got somebody said and saying like, yo, what's the podcast or what do I need a podcast management? Yeah. You know, once you get into it deep enough, you'll know, I mean, if you had to ask that question, then you haven't done it enough times to, you haven't done a podcast enough to, to see it? Uh, Yeah. So what about like, say, what were your goals like when you first started in 2018, like. um, and like what, what goes like, what are the new goals? Like what has changed since then, like since launching and things like that? Yeah, I think the initial goals had to do with proven to myself whether or not this was an actual, uh, I need, you know, was this a real market need because again, if somebody doesn't actually need it, then you're actually fooling yourself, You know, you built, people are doing everyday, inability, something people don't need. And then they wonder why doesn't sell where they can't get to market or get the, get the adoption or what happened is because they never really did it a thorough needs announcements to figure out that they were even solving the right problem. So that was goal number one and my solving the right problem. Um, and then second one was to grow a team around it and actually get people to build it with me. And so we got, I got that far. And so now the next step is really getting customer acquisition, getting people on the app, you know, getting people helping people through through what we built, you know, having those testimonials of people saying, man before I started podcasting with pop how, you know, I was only releasing an episode a month and now I'm releasing an episode every week. You know, those are the type of testimonies I'm looking for moving forward so that we can, you know, hopefully convince investors and stuff that a well they should come along this journey with us really, really blow it out the water. Yeah, yeah, definitely. And I know you've been to a lot of different like conferences and things like that. What has been, um, feedback you're getting from, from the people? Yeah. You know, um, it's really interested in the first conference we went to uh in 2019 we went to a conference called podcast movement and during that conference, all we had was a screenshot of the software, um, has some little, you know, flyers that we were handing out, but we didn't have anything that was working, anything that people can actually sign up for. But that was again part of testing the theory of is this a real problem? Is it is this something that people need a solution to? And during...

...that conference, I think over the course of like three or four days we had almost 200 people sign up for the app. Just personal interactions that we have with folks. And then we didn't even having it. It was just like, man, I want to be on the wait list for this. So there was a lot of excitement around the idea of this type of solution. So then fast forward a year later are two years later and we went back to that same conference as a presenting uh company And hosted an event where we had another 200 podcasters show up and we're even more excited. And if you go to pop out on Instagram page, you can see some of those testimonials of what folks have to say how, they were. you know, really grateful to see an application like this come online and um that they've been struggling with this sort of podcasting management, project management, becoming an administrator of their show and not being able to release as much content as they really could if they have a system in place. And so a lot of positive feedback, we've had people sign up for that. Since then I've got a ton of emails and um, and BMS asking, you know, the meat with man to learn more about the application. So I think we accomplished our mission, you know, this last conference are really getting the word out there and we're just hoping to continue to grow off of that. Yeah, yeah, for sure. And um recently I know you got to, to separate um awards or grants, maybe you want to say um you got the Hennessy never stopped that, never settle um society and then the, I know you just, you literally think you literally just got the google one too. So tell me, tell me a little bit about both of those and like how those came about and like what was like the application process or things like that about? For sure. Yeah, Well big shout out to Joey well matt from getting nation for putting me on to some of these options out there are opportunities that I would say also joe berks, google for startups. Um you know, the Hennessy Grant came about because I got an email from Joey who was big in the black tech community, was like, hey erin check out this opportunity, you know, this might fit, you gotta do an email, looked it up, it was like, man, this like a dope, looks like something that really um, That I think I have a chance of winning. So I put in the application online, went through a couple interview process and next thing I know, you know, I was getting notified that we were one of 20, companies to be selected in the us for this, this uh, awesome award. Um, and then the google for startups award, it's really funding more than his award award, they don't really consider this one, their brand as much as it is actual investment pop out. Um, that one, I was part of something called google for startups at Atlanta founders Academy, in which several founders in Atlanta uh, community joined up. We're google for eight months. Uh, someone like an accelerator program where they taught us about sales and marketing and uh, ad placement and how to grow your team and all those sorts of things. Uh, and at the end of that eight months you become eligible to apply for one of their, one of one of their Black Thunder founder fund. Uh, and so last year the black founders fund was $5 million investment across, I think 60 plus founders and then this year they did another $5 million investment into 50 founders. So each of us receiving $100,000 in funding from google. So that's a pretty big deal, you know, have the, The branding and the association and also the, the financial backing from such big brands like Hennessy and Google, the Hennessy Grant was a $50,000 grant. So in one month we just brought in about $150,000 of capital to help push this business forward. And that's a big deal given...

...that up to now, we haven't had a single dollar come in the door. Um, you know, the folks that I brought onto the team, I exchanged equity to them. So they were working for equity exchange for their time. And so none of us have had any kind of paycheck from this, you know, I've been running this off of me and my wife's investment, you know, from my own bank account basically, You know, from day one uh running up credit cards, paying them down and all that sort of thing because we believe in division, so to uh, to finally have such big names in, in, in the industry come behind us and, and you know, give us some good press as well as some, some coins in the bank feels good. Yeah, for sure, yeah, and congrats on that. I don't know if I said that before. Um, but yeah, that's big. I mean, I remember I saw it. Um, I don't even know, I think, I don't know if the google one came out. I think the google one came out right after I messaged you guys, let's get you on the pod. So that was, that was dope to that. That happened. Uh yeah, like Even like the Hennessy one, I believe we talked, I think I thought it was, I thought it was just like a sponsorship. So that's awesome that it was bigger than that. Yeah. Yeah, it was actually funding as well. Um, yeah, so with those two grants, like what I know you kind of just mentioned, but what's your like big plan to use, use that money. Yeah, a big part of that is marketing. Um, you know, user acquisition. Um, we fortunately been able to pay down a little bit of debt with that. Like I said, we didn't have any cash flow coming into the business for three years. So you know, basically get us to the place where we can have the type of customers and attraction that we need to attract a bigger investment to really, you know, run this company the way it should be. So, um, that's the, actually the core focus. Yeah, definitely. And then what's your, what's your approach, I know you just said you're investing more money into marketing, but what's your approach to acquire? A new customer. And like, where can people go to sign up? Yeah, absolutely. I mean what's great is that you can sign up right now online at Paypal dot com uh for free. That that may or may not last too much longer. We have a free free plan where if you sign up now for the first six episodes that you publish are hosted on pot Powell and distributed, all that kind of stuff. Absolutely free. So, and if you have an existing show, we allow for you to import that show, like average savages coming over after this call, uh We can import your so literally in about 30 seconds from whatever from whatever host that you're on today. So we're going to be running part of that money that we will be running like to switch to pop out campaign. So people understand just how easy it is to switch. Um so yeah, Yeah, I might have to become some kind of ambassador, like maybe I need like 1% or something. Uh Yeah, and then um like what, like how many is there, is there a number of podcasts like on the, on the platform right now? Yeah, we have a think over 100 people already for podcasting on our platform. We we just, we just came out like two weeks ago with the launch and haven't put any big marketing push yet, but it will be a lot more before we know it. Okay. And what what advice would you give to another fellow entrepreneur, young entrepreneurs like trying to start their own business Yeah, that's a good question um read definitely get some good books on your hand that you got to feed your mind first, it's all about the mindset, you know, if you don't have the mindset of entrepreneur, you really can't walk in in the spirit of one, so I feel like it starts with your where you at mentally first and some books that I would recommend include Rich dad, poor dad the millionaire mindset um start with Why How to Win friends and influence people. Um and also uh one of...

...the books I'm reading right now we're kind of poking through is called The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek. Um those are all really good starters um just to kind of get your mind around how entrepreneurs think, you know, they're they're not thinking about, you know, they're not overly consumed with risk, um they're not overly consumed with people's opinions, you know what people have to say about things and so just to kind of get that sort of sort of mind setting, you will help you along your journey. So I would say definitely be a voracious reader, I wasn't that before, you know kind of starting these companies and once I started reading some of these books that really started kick started me into into really walking into that purpose. Um The other thing I would say is um you know, take a bet on yourself, even if it's a small bet, it doesn't have to be huge. You know, I think a lot of times people think oh I got to have X, Y. Z. Amount of money before I start my business, I just take $100 bet on yourself. You know honestly that was the first, the first bet that I made on pop out was interviewing you and several other people and if you remember I said when I hit you up in instagram I was like, hey man I'll give you $25 amazon gift card. If you'll just spend an hour with me talking about your problems and podcast, That was an investment, it was very small, but you know across the 10 people that added up to whatever it was, $250, right? So that was a $250 investment. I made into my idea at that time to figure out it was worth anything, you know, and small little investments like that uh really help you keep going when it comes down to it because then you start your, your belief goes further when you're when it's attached to something. So um investment of your time, your money, your energy um and also finding ways to like to, to add value, you know, your business as an entrepreneur, everything shouldn't be all about, you, you should be looking for ways to add value to others. So even on all those calls is initial calls and even this call all the way up to this very day, you know, our mantra, you know, in our shirt popped out this podcast, his best friend. So the entire brand is around being friendly and make sure that we're the ones extending ourselves to others. So if we're not, if I'm not doing that, then I'm really not living more the belief in the mantra and the vision behind the brand. So you know, have your brand have what you do go beyond you, you know, and if it goes beyond you, I think it can go far, you know, if it's just in the context of you being being an influencer, you know, you're being great, you know, you're being lifted up, you know, I don't, that's, that's just not how I get down, you know, and I think that most of the successful on entrepreneurs that I know are much add more value than, than they receive and that's, that's really the name of the game. Yeah, definitely. And uh, I'm kind of, I'm kind of upset. You never told me that you played football at Jacksonville State or Yeah, so, so tell me how, tell me how like maybe sports and like business helped you out or just like the mindset because I know like, you know, they always say like athletes have like the best work, work ethic. Yeah, it's absolutely 1 to 1 with everything that I do. Uh, I played college football at Jacksonville University play free safety, I was number 27 definitely came downhill, you know, and then what I needed to do, uh you know, but uh yeah, that mindset man, uh I can still hear coach patrick, strength conditioning coach, I guess, I can hear them in my ear every day, like literally and everything that I do, same finished, you know, you know, finish strong kind of strong execute results, you know, those sorts of uh those sorts of mantra is that you just here around the waiting room and with your teammates, you know, last forever, you know, even though those days are well gone for me, you know, um the...

...vision of the memory and the experience that never leaves you and so I definitely carry that into work and into how I run my teams and just the spirit of teamwork. Um you know, collaboration is everything, I think that a lot of people try to get stuff off the ground on their own. They don't realize the value of getting input and insights from other people, so working very hard to find teammates mentors, which is anybody of that nature who is willing to share even a little bit of a nugget with you is extremely important, you know, coaching is, it can't be, I can't emphasize that more so as an entrepreneur, you have to like go and create that atmosphere for yourself and that's difficult to do, but you know, reaching out to someone who has more experience or you know, a little time on their hands, like kind of give you that that little jolt of of energy or hold you accountable is really really valuable. So um So yeah, I've seen a man, I couldn't I couldn't do what I do without that sports history in the background, you know, not everybody's going to have that, but you can still create a lot of that for yourself, you know? Yeah, Yeah, for sure. All right. You ready for some fun questions? Yeah, let's go. Alright. What what's your favorite food? Right. Um Yeah, I mean, I'm from the South man, so, you know, I like fried chicken, greens, mac and cheese. All that soul food is really good. My favorite absolute favorite food, I guess is is really a sweet pound cake. All right. Uh What, what's your favorite song right now? Probably probably dedication by Nipsey hustle. Even though that's kind of old, that one drives me. That's what I wanted to get ready for a meeting and that's the one. Mhm. Uh What do you what do you like to do in your free time? Uh spend time with my kids? Uh and play acoustic guitar. All right. You're playing guitar. I'm all right. Yeah. There's some stuff on my page. Not average. We'll probably have everything. Uh What's something uh what's something else like you want to do, like an entrepreneur riser, like uh, just like, anything like any other goals or anything like that. Like another, another venture or something. Well, uh, personal goal would be to like, um, I want to climb mount Everest, but do something very adventurous like that skydiving or, you know, uh, you know, I'm a pretty adventurous person, but I don't have any big ones on my list. Like, you know, like going, I wouldn't go bungee jumping or something crazy like that. But I might do, I might just got out of it. Um, in terms of like a business goal or another venture. Um, I think it would be really cool too, uh, to create like basically my, my son is on autism spectrum and so he goes to a school called the Lion High School, which is a school that caters specifically. It's in the needs of people on the spectrum and it's awesome school, but it's really expensive to attend and we're just now finding a position as a family, like send them there. But way back this journey, you can really benefit from them. So I think a really cool thing to do would be able to stand up more schools like mine heart that would be like completely free. So the same expertise, same level of service and commitment and all that. But like the students who attended the families who will send their kids there could do it at a very, very, very like subsidized rate, you know, or if not free because There's, uh, I think the last stat was like one and 45 kids are diagnosed with autism today. And so there's a lot of kids around here who need that kind of help, but and, and the, and even adults on the spectrum, we need that kind of support and don't have it. So that's a, that's a big goal of mine. Yeah, That's awesome. Well, erin, I appreciate you coming on and could elect listeners and where they can follow you on social media. Yeah, man, you can follow me on the air and the woods on all channels,...

...twitter linkedin, uh, instagram. And then you can follow pop how atpa Power on those same channels where we are at pop out eight point some channels, but you put in pop that will come up brick.

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