[Posted on October 4, 2007 - 3:00 PM]
Houston-based startup PhoneCasting LLC has raised $500,000 from undisclosed angel investors to create a service that enables users to listen to podcasts using a phone. The service also allows people to record and share their thoughts via phone and post them to the Internet as an MP3 file to be played on their iPods or other music players.
Founder and president Michael Sharp started out as a musician, and he founded another company related to sharing and finding audio recordings via the Internet called Bandtones.com Inc. He's put most of his efforts into building PhoneCasting, purchasing the assets of Podlinez, an early player in this space, for an undisclosed amount.
"We became aware of the Podlinez service, and I just acquired it because it would save us time," Sharp says. "We had to do a tremendous amount of work to it, but now it is an enterprise application that can be white labeled so a company like Yahoo! could pop it into their system and save their podcasting effort."
Yahoo! Inc. recently shuttered its podcasting program that allowed users to download and post podcasts. Sharp says that using the phone will open up podcasts to a broader range of users -- he calls it "the grandma audience" -- that doesn't want to deal with microphones, iPods or computer recordings.
PhoneCasting offers its platform and services for free, and Sharp hopes to get a wide audience for the site and its shows. This in turn should interest advertisers in sponsoring specific shows, he predicts. Sharp also wants to tie podcasts with affiliate marketing opportunities. For example, if a podcaster reviewed the latest Stephen King novel, a listener could press a key to buy the book on Amazon.com. Sharp plans for an 80-20 split of proceeds from sales and advertising; 20% of income will go to PhoneCasting, while the rest will go to the podcaster.
Sharp is still expanding the platform and is seeking about $10 million in Series A financing. The Seed Stage thinks he should be charging for services that allow a user to choose a specific area code for his podcast, and he needs to develop a strategy around getting advertisers to the site.
For an example of the technology, check out the phonecast I recorded with Sharp. You can click on the button below or just dial 1 (650) 293-9140. And please let me know what you think. - Stacey Higginbotham