Zencastr Raises a $4.6M Seed Round To Help Podcasters Build Stronger Communities
Podcast Creation Company Rolls Out Video Feature, Sees Its Future Tied To Enhancing Creator and Audience Connections
February 16, 2021 – Zencastr, the leading high-end cloud-based podcasting platform, has announced its first-ever round of funding, led by Utah-based venture firm Kickstart. Zencastr has long been profitable, but the $4.6 million seed round will set the stage for the forward-leaning tech company’s next evolution of growth. Zencastr will leverage the infusion of capital to move its game-changing video podcasting offering into open beta. The round will also allow the company to focus on bringing the podcast creation process to a much wider audience of users – a mission central to the original vision of the founders and particularly valuable at this time.
Zencastr was founded in 2015 by tech entrepreneur Josh Nielsen as a way to put the power of creating interest-based communities in the hands of anyone with a message and a desire to be heard. Today, Zencastr facilitates hundreds of thousands of hours of recorded content every month and services roughly 6% of all podcasts. The company’s vision has always been to make the technology seamless but the results pristine. From this vision was born the platform that allows creators and guests with zero production background and simple technology to log in from wherever they are and seamlessly create studio-quality content. This seed round of funding will allow the company to even more fully realize that vision.
With a background as an engineer for video sharing companies Flipagram and ByteDance (owner of TikTok), Co-Founder and CPO Adrian Lopez has a strong feeling for the power of podcasting to connect people. “As a listener, the intimacy you feel as you get to know a podcaster is one of the greatest forms of connection in media today. We see podcasting as a medium for fostering understanding and discourse and we want to remove all barriers preventing listeners and creators from connecting through podcasts.”
While the company has set the standard for podcasting content creation since 2015, Zencastr’s video offering, which moved into an open beta stage on February 16th, in many ways represents that vision’s fullest realization. The open beta strives to put the power of studio-quality, remote video production into the hands of anyone with a story to tell. Features will include HD Video Recording, Studio-Quality Sound, Built-in VoIP, Chat and Footnotes, Live Soundboard Editing, Automatic Postproduction, and Secured Cloud Backup - all running right from a user’s browser so they can record from anywhere, without ever installing anything.
Important to the founders will be the multi-tiered offering levels, to ensure that there is a use case for everyone with an interest. At the beginning of COVID-19, Zencastr lifted restrictions on its free plans and is delighted to continue to offer those benefits to its creators. Co-Founder and CEO, Josh Nielsen notes, “We are overjoyed to launch our video podcasting tool out of private beta. Thank you to the 40k users who patiently waited and then tested in private beta, our team for their brilliant work commitment to delivering this first-in-class product. At a time when the world feels as far apart as ever, we’re working to bridge that divide.”
In describing the fit between the company and lead investor, Kickstart, Nielsen adds, “Zencastr is a fully distributed team that has no office anywhere, this opened up great opportunities to partner with the right venture firm that might not be situated in traditional centers of tech power. We found Kickstart out of Salt Lake City, Utah to be the best fit for our mission. They are founder-friendly, have a deep passion for the podcasting space, and believe strongly in our vision for the platform.”
Echoing this sentiment, Kickstart Managing Partner, Gavin Christensen offers, “In an age of social isolation, the world's communities have become separated. Our stadiums, offices, and schools are now more remote than ever. Podcasting has always been about fostering a deep connection at scale. Anyone in the world can download podcast audio and start an intimate relationship with its creator. We think there has never been a better time to amplify this medium to help the world connect via podcasting and we are thrilled to support Zencastr in their efforts to do so.”
Private investors in this round also include former Flipagram (acquired by ByteDance/TikTok) executives, Brian Dilley and Farhad Mohit. Dilley explains, “In Zencastr, I see so many similarities to the early days of video creation and social media networks like Flipagram, TikTok, and Instagram – a technology-enabled product, pushing the limits of digital creation. Zencastr is truly leading the wave by taking podcasting and video creation to the next level.”
Investors also participating in the seed are audio industry veteran, Jeremy Andrus, the former CEO of Skullcandy, as well as serial technology leaders Austen Allred, founder of the Lambda School, Aaron Skonnard, founder of Pluralsight, and Karl Sun from Lucid along with his executive team.
To learn more about the history of Zencastr, tune into the Digital Nomad podcast, featuring the Zencastr founders and team, describing how we got here, and where we’re headed.
Zencastr is a modern web-based solution for high-quality audio and video podcast production. With a full suite of professional tools, Zencastr allows podcasters to quickly and seamlessly record their guests remotely and produce their podcasts in studio quality.