My Startup: Radio.co, Manchester
Radio.co lets anyone create an online radio station. They promise industry-standard station management, all within the browser.
The team have collected all the component parts of running a radio station together in one paid-for platform, which allows users to simply and efficiently run a radio station of any size. It's been picked up by many around the world - from bedroom amateurs to brands hoping to promote a message.
Founder: James Mulvany
Founded: October 2014
We sat down with James Mulvany to learn more.
Why did you start Radio.co?
I decided to bring the product to market after running an online business offering streaming media services for a number of years - which I grew while at University - then not long afterwards launching a content delivery network.
Radio was always a core market of ours and a passion of mine from a young age, but it seemed that more and more brands and ‘non-radio’ customers were coming to us looking for solutions.
What we provided at the time was more of a technically focused and utilitarian offering versus something more in line with how most SaaS products are. Just do a Google Image search for ‘radio automation software’, and you’ll see what I mean! Most of these solutions still require significant investment in licensing and hardware to work.
It became clear that there was a significant gap in the market to create a product that was cloud-based, instantly available, highly scalable and most importantly, really easy to use - so it could be operated by a total novice without prior experience, while retaining some of the powerful features offered by traditional radio software.
Tell us more about the tech behind the product.
Fundamentally, Radio.co offers a complete station management solution. Clients effectively get a ‘radio station in a box’, all they do is supply the content, which can either be pre-recorded shows, uploaded music or a live feed from their studio (really anywhere with an internet connection).
The interface includes a calendar-like app which allows you to easily fire off different playlists on any given date or time. Some of our clients have multiple DJs broadcasting from different locations too, so these can be scheduled. The platform also takes care of streaming and even tracks listener stats, so you can see how popular different shows are.
Where are you at right now?
We’ve grown significantly over the past three years. We’re on target to turn over more than £2 million this year. We have 30 staff and we are just about to launch our new platform, Podcast.co.
Growth has been consistent and we’ve added plenty of innovative features to ensure customers are always getting the best tech. This has helped enormously with our growth, and kept customers engaged.
We’ve had the opportunity to work with really exciting clients and have definitely seen an increase in bigger brands who are reaching out to us. Now over 4,500 radio channels are relying on us to stay on air 24/7 using the platform.
Clients range from traditional radio stations - either commercial or community - through to more unconventional use cases, such as brands or publishers running radio channels alongside other media; charities, NGOs and NFPs running global campaigns; or DJs and musicians using the product to reach their audiences.
Demand and interest from traditional radio networks - looking to save costs, use the platform for disaster recovery and future-proof their infrastructure - is growing on a day-to-day basis.
This is in addition to the groundbreaking work we have done for clients like Unicef, the United Nations, Vice Magazine, Whiskas, Cafe Mambo, Primavera Sounds and M&C Saatchi, among others.
What are your aims for the next year?
We have launched Podcast.co as a standalone podcasting platform and agency providing podcasting services and strategy. There is significant crossover between the two brands, and we’ll certainly be providing podcast services to many existing customers.
Podcasting is a very exciting space at the moment. Over 25,000 podcasts were submitted to Apple in May 2018 - so it is a huge growth market and, with our experience in the online broadcasting sector, we believe we’re primed to take advantage of this. We aim to triple our current revenue within the next two years.
What's been the hardest thing about getting Radio.co off the ground?
Scaling a product from zero to more than 15 million listeners a day is not an easy task. Luckily, we built the system in a way that made this possible, however it’s not without its challenges and our team are constantly looking at how we can move our technology forward.
In terms of the market, while it might have appeared niche from the outset when we launched Radio.co, it became apparent that there was huge demand for our service.
Why should more people be using Radio.co?
Online radio has seen a huge increase in interest over the last few years. There’s a new wave of stations doing really interesting things like MCR.Live, who broadcast from [Manchester’s] Ancoats General Store and Soho Radio, which broadcasts from an old coffee shop in Soho.
In addition to this, we have seen brands like Whiskas create a station especially for cats and have just helped Primavera Sound to launch a station to keep their music festival going all year round. There’s no limit to how you can use Radio.co. We’ve even had Vice Magazine using our software to power a silent disco app.
How much does it cost users - and why is it worth the investment?
Plans start at £23 and go up to £240 depending on client needs and the number of listeners. Radio.co is a fully cloud-based system so your stream is always available regardless of how many people are trying to tune in.
It’s also incredibly quick and easy to spin up a station, so it removes all of the barriers and technical headaches people normally face when trying to do this.
Most of the radio software out there is also incredibly dated and based on old technologies. Radio.co is a cutting edge platform built for forward thinking brands and publishers and anyone who wants to create a live audio experience for their audience.