Gabriel Flores 0:01
Hello, everyone, and welcome to the shades of entrepreneurship. This is your host, Mr. Gabriel Flores. Today I am here with the owner of pod inbox. I'm actually interested because it's about Podcast. I'm very, I'm familiarizing myself with pot inbox. So Pat, how are you doing?
Pat Cheung 0:23
Good. Thanks for having me.
Gabriel Flores 0:24
Oh, no, thank you for coming. I'm very intrigued about this, because I think you and I for the podcasting world, and then you actually have a healthcare background as well. Alright, so first, let's introduce the world to Pat, who is Pat?
Pat Cheung 0:37
Sure. Pat is. I guess, the co founder, or I'm sorry, the founder of pot inbox. And yeah, I've been a product designer and the product manager for many years. Too many years for me to reveal. We've been doing this for a long time. And yeah, and right now doing pod inbox and just created this tool for podcasters.
Gabriel Flores 1:06
Yeah, so let's, let's talk about that. What, what is pod inbox?
Pat Cheung 1:09
Sure, um, pod inbox is a fan engagement plan. And basically, what it does is it lets podcasters receive audio messages from fans. Does that
Gabriel Flores 1:22
all does? I'm like, I'm like, wait, I'm like, come on.
Pat Cheung 1:27
It's funny, because in the startup world that you know, they kind of teach us to give the short elevator. Yeah,
Gabriel Flores 1:33
that was definitely the shortest elevator speech.
Pat Cheung 1:37
No, it does a lot more. I'm just trying to figure out you know, how far far how far to dive into it. But yeah, as a fan engagement platform. Right now, that's one of the core features from podcasts that receive audio messages from fans. So let's say you have, you know, the shades of E or the shades of entrepreneur, podcast, if you want to run fan engagement, like what what kind of tools do you use?
Gabriel Flores 2:03
Oh, like Instagram, then basically buzz feeds clips with Canva. Art kind of thing. Right?
Pat Cheung 2:09
So it's very, very much centered around social right now. Okay. So what we want to become as we want to be the tool, or at least one of the few tools you reach for when, you know, someone asks you this question, what do you what do you use for fan engagement? So, so how we do fan engagement, at least the core product is, since podcasting is very audio format, right? Why not receive audio messages from fans, and podcasters love this because being an audio format, a lot of times they want to play back clips from their fans, they're true, they need a way to capture that audio from the fans. So when customer signs up for pod and box, they get a pod in Box page. And on that page is where you drive your fans to and say, Hey, go leave me a message i pod in box.com/shades of E or Gabriel, you know, whatever you want it to be. And we make it very easy for the podcast for the podcast fan to go there and leave a message
Gabriel Flores 3:08
Nice. Now, how did how did the concept kind of come about? How did you decide that this was a problem that needed to be solved?
Pat Cheung 3:15
Yeah, good question. Because I am not a podcaster yet. I'm actually an aspiring podcaster. Nice. So but I've been a podcast fan listener for many years me when maybe when podcasts first came about? Yeah. And as a fan, I've always kind of been frustrated with the idea that, while I'm always listening to these people in my ear, like 24/7, and never had a chance to kind of interact with them in a way I kind of wanted to a lot of times, you know, just kind of having the wish of just kind of being on the show, or making a cameo on the show. And yeah, not a lot of podcasters were doing it when I really, you know, throughout my time as a podcast listener, so kind of having that craving kind of caused me to
Gabriel Flores 4:04
Nice. Now, is this your first business?
Pat Cheung 4:07
No, I guess you could call me a serial entrepreneur. I've been dabbling with entrepreneur ship probably for maybe 20 years. You're nice for a long time. And this is probably, I don't know, I want to say maybe like fifth or sixth business. Yeah.
Gabriel Flores 4:22
Okay, let's let's, what else have we done? Well,
Pat Cheung 4:26
I'll talk about the previous one that was kind of like the more substantial business. It was. It was a venture funded business called Silver sheets. It was also a software, web software for healthcare facilities to manage their health care staff.
Gabriel Flores 4:43
Okay. Now, you you mentioned actually that your your background is actually in healthcare. And so like some of these these years, how did you transition from healthcare to the podcast?
Pat Cheung 4:54
Maybe to clarify, my background is really in product design. Okay. So I was a UX designer. or kind of maybe even before, people were called UX designers used to be called information architects for those people who are in the know. So being a UX designer for a long time, I think a lot about product, you think a lot about the user experience. And of course, you have to actually create the products that that companies need, right? So did UX design for a long time, then, a lot of times, you know, the life of a UX designer, they usually kind of maybe graduate to the next level, which is product management. So I've always, I've also been a product manager for a long time. So I wouldn't say my background is healthcare. But for the last six years, we ran silver sheet for about six years, before it got acquired about two years ago. So yeah, I have a little bit of a background in healthcare, because of doings overseas. Yeah.
Gabriel Flores 5:59
So with your experience in product development, you know, you, let's kind of let's go to the process for those at home that may not know the product development process. What what what do you go through when you're kind of thinking about, like, for example, pot inbox? How do you go from vision to end product?
Pat Cheung 6:19
Sure, yeah. So one of the processes, you know, I've used for a long time is called user centered design. In that process, you really have to think about the users of the product. So when I first came out with pot unbox, I already knew a couple things, I knew I wanted to be in the podcast space. Because it's a space I really enjoy. And when I was thinking about the next product I was gonna work on, I just really wanted to truly be in a space that I enjoy. Because I kind of know, you know, these things take a while. And so I just told myself, what types of people do I want to surround myself with the next maybe six, seven years of my life? Yeah. So I've always enjoyed podcasts, like I said earlier, but I've also enjoyed talking to podcasters. I feel like there's such a sort of Rainbow Range of podcasts out there that bit every like the sort of the similarities about them as they're always kind of interesting people. So I just thought, you know, that's an industry I want to serve. Yeah. So part of the user centered design process is just kind of talking to a lot of podcasters. And trying to figure out what kind of problems they're trying to solve in their daily life. So when I basically looked across the industry talked to a bunch of podcasters, one of the gaps that I saw, was this kind of maybe problem or need around fan engagements. there just weren't too many tools around there.
Gabriel Flores 7:50
So do you you said you spent some time with podcasters to kind of understand what their kind of concerns were first, correct? Yeah. How important is that? When the product design development?
Pat Cheung 8:01
Sure, it's a I mean, yeah, when you're talking to, like a UX designer, you know, with my philosophy on how to build a product, it's super important, maybe maybe one of the most critical things you could do as an entrepreneur, in the first steps, you talk to the users, because those are the people who are theoretically going to buy your product. So pot in box is a paid product, we might have something free later, but it started as a paid product to maybe kind of test what's people's willingness to buy. So, you know, because software development is such a sort of a lengthy and expensive process. You don't want to spend even one dime of building something before you kind of know that there's a need in the marketplace. So yeah, talking to users. Yeah, probably one of the first critical steps.
Gabriel Flores 8:53
Yeah, and that's the reason I asked this question, because I think it's so important for the listeners at home to understand that as well. If you're going to into a product development, you know, thing, you're you must spend some time with your end users to kind of understand what their needs are assuming their needs, and then trying to address the assumed need is never going to be good, right? It's not going to be successful. So making sure that you really understand what their needs are, and going in there and having them test the product. Did you do some product testing with with POD box?
Pat Cheung 9:23
I'll be honest, not really, I think so after we kind of established their needs, kind of made sure they're there before building anything. You know, maybe this is not the right thing to do. I always say, you know, tell people don't don't follow exactly. Because I do take some shortcuts. Yeah, we just start building and in in the world of software, we build what's called an MVP, a minimum viable product. What do we think is the smallest amount of software we could build to keep validating? Is this a good product for them. Are we on the right track? So that's, yeah, right after, you know, a lot of other people would take some other steps of like maybe building like a prototype or like a wireframe just to kind of show users we kind of skipped a couple steps there. This one right into the building. And that's
Gabriel Flores 10:16
fine, too, right? Sometimes, you know, one of the things you kind of mentioned too, is you made it a subscription model. Did you? How did you kind of come up with that decision? You kind of briefly mentioned it, but just for the users at home that are thinking of, you know, creating some type of product, going through that process, the decision process of should we make it a subscription model? Should we make it free? What did you do? How did you go through it?
Pat Cheung 10:40
Sure. I mean, we're still playing around with the idea, like I said, maybe have a freemium later, but it is a subscription model. Most likely, because it kind of makes sense for the product, a lot of these. So we consider podcasters as a as a business. Yeah.
Gabriel Flores 10:55
I don't know. Would you consider I would consider it a business. Yeah. Right. Right. So
Pat Cheung 10:58
and a lot of businesses and even consumer, so let's say they're, if someone's podcasting is a business or as a hobby, a lot of times they use tools, especially in this industry, like you probably have, like, you know, a hosting tool, audio editing tools, so on and so forth. Like,
Gabriel Flores 11:18
we're using mics, we got the pictures. Totally. And even the software, right, I
Pat Cheung 11:22
think earlier, you said use Canva. Right. Yeah, yeah. So I think when especially businesses think of getting jobs done, they think about now subscription software. So we kind of played pretty nicely in that field, where, you know, if a podcaster really wanted to a place to receive audio messages from fans, there's quite honestly, not a lot of options that's free out there. There might be, you might be able to use your voicemail, or like Google Voice or something that's arguably free, but not with the features that we have, like, our platform is, you know, we think much more engaging, and fun and social than like a voicemail. Nice. So yeah, if so, yeah, that's why we pretty much from day one decided let's go SaaS, software as a service.
Gabriel Flores 12:11
Gotcha. Now, now, you've you've been in product development for like over 20 years or a very long time? What What kind of what has been difficult? What what are some difficult aspects in product development that listeners should be mindful of if they are trying to get out of product development? Or they're thinking of building out a product? What are some pitfalls that should be aware of,
Pat Cheung 12:32
you know, pretty much what we talked about, already about talking to your list and talking to your potential customers first. I see. So here, even in Portland, you know, I try to mentor as much as possible other aspiring entrepreneurs, I feel like I've kind of done it enough where I have some insights that can be useful for them. So they don't make the same mistakes I did. And yeah, when I think about some of the critical mistakes I've kind of made in the past, or in my early days of software, entrepreneurship, it's around, probably, it's around making too many assumptions. A lot of times we sink, we know what a problem is. But maybe not enough the knew and not enough about the nuances of the problem, to create a product that actually people will pay for. So yeah, that's one big, big mistake not knowing the customer enough. So that's something I always recommend to young entrepreneurs.
Gabriel Flores 13:35
Yeah, I've, I think I've discussed it a few times on the show, it's, it's so important to have that opportunity to, you know, just watch, you know, and understand the needs, because, again, we might know what our needs and wants are. But that might not be the, you know, the majority. So, you know, you've you've what, what would you say has been difficult about starting the pot inbox.
Pat Cheung 14:02
For me, and is also the case with a lot of, I guess, tech entrepreneurs or software entrepreneurs is marketing. Yeah, I think because we're kind of wired as builders. Yeah, we're usually not wired to then tell people the world about what we built. So it's funny, I say, marketing is probably, you know, the weakest part of, you know, my skills is because I, you know, because of that lack of skill, you know, I read about a lot about marketing and sales, but yeah, you know, I find that's still probably the hardest part, building, you know, I could kind of do it my sleep. I've done it for a long time. And I like building. But, you know, there comes a time in everybody's business where you actually have to sell it. So it's very true. Yeah. So going out to market and selling it. It's tough.
Gabriel Flores 14:55
And how do you market to your clients? Well,
Pat Cheung 15:00
Mmm, that's a good question. Just to give some context we just launched in August. Nice. So that's only, I don't know when you're going to release this, but, you know, maybe five, six months ago, not too long ago. And we launched at the biggest podcast conference. So and that actually worked out really well. Nice. We got a booth, you know, it was kind of debating whether just to kind of, so at that point, we, we just got our product ready. We kind of used that as the deadline to you know, get our product ready, because I love it. Other than that, we didn't really have a deadline, you know, we could go back to, you know, just launch whenever. So, when we found out about that conference, we thought, you know, what, let's make this as a deadline. And when that deadline came, we'll we had to make the decision, should we actually launch here? Or should we just kind of attend? And watch and observe? Yeah. So you know, made the decision? No, let's, let's get a booth. And let's really find out what if people liked this or not, because if they don't, you know, we could just pretty much you know, pack up what we did, and maybe move off, move on to the next startup or something. So, yeah, so that podcast conference call Podcast Movement, we launched here in August, and we got, you know, pretty good feedback, actually. Yeah, not not much negative feedback at all. So we thought, Well, I think that's a sign to maybe keep going.
Gabriel Flores 16:27
Yeah, definitely. You know, one of the things you mentioned again, and I think you're just dropping some golden nuggets, really, for entrepreneurs to really pay attention to one, obviously, you know, the customers, right, really, really spending that time to understand your customer needs. But then to right now, you mentioned taking your product out in the road, getting in front of getting in front of people and getting real time feedback. How important is you know, getting real time feedback for a product in product development?
Pat Cheung 16:54
Yeah, I mean, yeah, feedback and talking to early customers. Like I said before, I'm going to probably sound like a broken right now. Like, super important, like, you know, I think you could I can't even talk about, you know, some of the missteps we had for the last, my last startup, so we're sheath. You know, you know, we don't we didn't we don't talk about this too much. But in our last startup, it was venture funded, we raised a lot of money. And we probably wasted a year building the wrong product. Oh, no, we found out Yeah, we were actually building a product that was a little bit more like, Doctor On Demand. It was at a time where Uber for X was like, really popular. So we were just trying to build like an, like a Uber for doctors, for medical facilities. So they actually kind of partner with these different doctors. I think that's something you're familiar with. But we found out, yeah, doctors aren't commoditized like that. And they have all sorts of credentials that can come with them. And it's funny, because my, you know, other two co founders for that product. Were medical doctors. You know, I think, in our rush to maybe assume that medical facilities always need more physicians and providers to work with, that there was nothing more to their hiring process than just saying, Oh, that one looks good. Let's let's partner with them. But as you probably know, there's this whole process in there called credentialing. Yes. Yeah. Very long, lengthy lot of paperwork process. So it's like one of these things that a lot of people don't know about. So that's, that's a problem we tackled was credential management. And realize, we realized there's not there weren't a lot of solutions for the, the segment we targeted were ASCs ambulatory surgery centers in these smaller places not not like these big healthcare organizations or hospital systems where they have a lot of money to spend on the software that that's available to them. But still, every every medical facility that provides any kind of medical service or hires a doctor needs the same level of credential management. So yeah, we ended up building a software for them, but it didn't take it took us about a year to kind of figure that out. We kind of made that mistake of building the product, we and then once we you know, we're ready with it. We went out to market with it. They're like, we can't use this. And this is with, you know, two doctors on the CO founding team, kind of thinking we were able to do this. So.
Gabriel Flores 19:30
So how did you pivot from that? Yeah,
Pat Cheung 19:32
it was a hard choice, because at that time, we already raised money. We raised I can't remember how much but it must have been a couple million already. And we just thought, you know what, what we're doing is not going to work. So we just had to kind of bite the bullet until the investors we have to do something else. But I think before we told them and this is all kind of hindsight is 2020 a little bit now things are a little fuzzy, but we have to tell we have to come up with another story before you know kind maybe telling some of the key investors so. And that's where, you know, customer development, what's called customer development when you talk to the customer to find out what, what their actual pain point is, you know, we found out that, you know, several of them, maybe like a good percentage of them actually said, Hey, do you have something for credentialing? Because that's something we could really use. Like, yeah, we understand the pain point you guys are trying to solve in terms of hiring physicians real quick. But we need to solve this other thing first, which is credential management, which, like you said, it takes a long time. Yes.
Gabriel Flores 20:34
So you were basically able to identify a new need.
Pat Cheung 20:38
Yeah, or a need that they had that we just did not see. Yeah. Because of our own sort of biases.
Gabriel Flores 20:44
And that's, that's just so crazy. How, you know, again, we're going back to the same thing, you know, the the need of kind of going and monitoring your customers and watching what their needs are, right? That's so crazy how it all just intertwines like that. Yeah, yeah. It's very holistic and organic, right? It's not like it was it's just kind of like if you follow the if you actually get out there directions from Ikea, and you follow it. Oh, my God, I got a bookshelf. Look at
Pat Cheung 21:11
that. It's really just listening, right? I think a lot of it's hard because as an entrepreneur, you're kind of taught like perseverance, right? Yeah, it's like perseverance that gets you through. But so it's delicacy, it's gray for a lot of entrepreneurs, where they're just like, hey, maybe if I just try a little bit harder, people start buying, or if we build a little bit more, you know, they'll overcome all the cell's objections of why people aren't buying. But to your point, a lot of times, it's just one step simpler, which is listening. Like, if you kind of just listen to what your customers are saying, you can kind of see like, Oh, they're not buying because they don't, they can't use it, or they don't want it, or there's some other problem, that's even more important that they have to solve.
Gabriel Flores 21:55
And, you know, one of the things you mentioned too, is you had to go and resell this to your investors, who gave you millions to for this product? How did how did you guys? How did you manage that? That's just seems like a daunting task.
Pat Cheung 22:09
Yeah, I mean, I have to say, props, my, the founder, the co founder of having to block and tackle all the all the investment talks. But I think as a team, what we did was, yeah, we had to create an an alternate plan, I think, for us, which is, well, we can't do Doctor On Demand is credential management, a big enough industry. So you know, we all ran the numbers around that, and it kind of made sense, you know, kind of did a bottoms up approach market analysis of, you know, how much can we sell this for? What are they willing to buy it for? And how many of these things are there in the country? And we thought that was kind of a big enough market. And, and then, you know, the bigger the bigger vision was, like, well, if we solve this, then maybe we could get to, you know, the other vision later, which is, you know, being a sort of a hiring platform. Yeah. Yeah. So we just had to formulate a story that kind of made sense, and, and then kind of pitch it again.
Gabriel Flores 23:10
And that go pretty well, I'm assuming. Yeah,
Pat Cheung 23:13
I think, um, I think especially now, more than ever, you know, that was maybe six, seven years ago. You know, investors just want to be treated like human beings want to be lied to. So lying is the worst. Kind of like, kind of teach them, like, kind of tell them what you've learned through your journey so far, and kind of have thoughtful alternatives or plans of how you're going to tackle hard problems. Yeah, I think they tend to keep believing you. Right? Yeah. And they keep on putting, you know, their investment in you.
Gabriel Flores 23:48
And that's, that's an important piece, you know, another great golden nugget that you're dropping for this listeners at home is the capital investors, angel investors there, they're not really don't get me wrong, they are definitely looking at your books and looking at the product and assuming, you know, and trying to ensure that it's gonna be successful, but at the end of the day, they're really investing in the entrepreneur. Yeah, yeah. You know, they're building that relationship. And to your point, they want to be treated like people they trust, they don't trust this big, don't lie. They're giving you a lot of money. You know, for the younger, you know, for for individuals that are interested in product development, doesn't matter the age, right? Individuals are just interested in product development. What advice would you have for them from your experience?
Pat Cheung 24:32
So I would say, you know, a common question, maybe I get a lot is, or common scenarios. Yeah. I have an idea and I want to start a business. Where do I start? Like you said, a lot of times investors think about the people first. So I might start at the people where, when if you're billing software, let's say usually, the couple people that are in the room when you start as a developer, and the person who has product vision, right? Sometimes called the CEO, sometimes it's called the co founder. So those two people are critical. So if you're a product developer or a product designer, wanting to get into entrepreneurship, it's good. You're one of the two people in the room. So you're already at a good start. Yeah, work with a good developer, you know, talk to customers, and design something that really fits a need, right? And once you design that thing that fits a need, build an MVP, see if it works. And all these things that I just said, really shouldn't take more than maybe, maybe two months. To do, like, do it really quick. And if you fail, fail fast, it's kind
Gabriel Flores 25:54
of what Yeah, and so MVP, what for the listeners at home? What is an MVP?
Pat Cheung 25:58
Oh, I'm sorry. Yeah. MVP, minimum viable products, the smallest product that you can build to get some validation? Really? That's what I'd say. There you go. And so that's like a functioning product. Okay. Yeah. Functioning product. Yeah. I mean, some other people would might even be more bullish to say, like, you know, a product that or it's something that someone will sign up for, but in my opinion, it's, you know, a functioning product that people could actually pay for, if it's paid products.
Gabriel Flores 26:32
Nice. So for the folks at home, they're interested in pod box interested in find out more about you? Where can they go? Where can they find you on the social media?
Pat Cheung 26:39
Sure, they could find me on Twitter at Pat Chung. They could find pod inbox, Twitter pod and boxer pod in box.com.
Gabriel Flores 26:47
Nice, Pat. Again, thank you so much for coming on the show today. Awesome. You've just dropped so many good golden nuggets for the listeners at home. I really hope folks you really do take advice from Pat and what he's saying. Really do get out there and get in front of your consumers listen to their needs, identify their needs, and then once you tackle their needs, you will probably have a very successful product. Right. Pat, thank you again, so much. For those listening at home. Please visit me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and I will see you later have a great night.