Lytt podcast platform for media companies to monetize on their audio production
Please introduce yourself and your startup Lytt to our readers!
I am Linn Dyveke Wilberg and I am the CEO and co-founder of the audio platform Lytt. I have founded several successful tech companies over the years and Lytt is the most recent of these. And i live and work on a small island on the western coast of Norway with my husband and our three children.
I have a deep passion for journalism and are eager to see how new technology can drive innovation, make room for new ways to engage in news stories and also how the audio and app-era has opened up a whole new way in which media companies can build loyalty among their users at the same way as this can use their unique content to drive revenue.
How did you get the idea of Lytt?
The idea of Lytt came up as a spin off from one of the other companies that I have co-founded, namely Beat Technology who delivers audiobook- and e-book services across Europe. With Beat Technology we had built top class mobile applications to enjoy audio content. With my background from the media industry I found it very appealing to see if we could use custom built audio applications, that supports subscription, as a way to help media companies to monetize on the podcasts they produced. I found it very strange that while more and more media companies expect their users to be subscribers to enjoy the full specter of their regular news production, they still gave away their podcasts for free on third party platforms.
Why did you decide to start with Lytt?
First of all because I truly believed in the idea! And I had experience within the field of audio- and subscription services, I had a wonderful and talented team ready to build the company and I really want true and trustworthy journalism to be as important in the future, and for future generations, as it has been for me and my generation. When the Schibsted paper Bergens Tidende decided to be our partner in developing a pilot, it was not hard to make the decision to go all inn in this start up.
What is the vision behind Lytt?
The vision is that high quality audio content should be valued the same way as written articles. That means that media companies must take ownership to the audio content their newsroom produce and include it in their brand and the product they offer to their audience. With our mobile applications and web player they can present the content within their brand, they can place as much (or as litte) as they want behind paywall and use this content to build a loyal audience – or even fans as one editor in chief we have been working with described them as.
And when the media company is in control of the distribution and consumption of their content – they of course get all the analytics they need to further develop and adjust. Our vision is to deliver the platform and applications that makes it easy for the media companies to take true ownership to their podcasts and voice-read articles.
How difficult was the start and which challenges you had to overcome?
When you enter a marked like this you face challenges on different levels. First of all you need to convince the media companies that they need to change their strategy away from publishing all audio content on third-party platforms like apple podcast and Spotify. They you need to prove to them that the solution we offer could help them monetize on their audio content, it could help them engage new – and younger – audience and it could help them to build a stronger relationship with their subscribers, hence reduce churn. Once those two obstacles are passed you need to prove it better and more efficient to use our platform than to develop this internally.
And of course there are challenges with funding, recruiting the necessary developers and that for a start up eager to get into the marked the processes from first meeting until final agreement can seem – and be – very long.
Who is your target audience?
Since we deliver an audio platform aimed at media companies who produce podcasts, I would say that media companies across Europe are our target audience. The value proposition for the specific media company would seem better if they already have a functional subscription service since our platform allows them to publish exclusively for subscribers. This might be why our first customers were the Scandinavian newspapers Politiken (Denmark) and Bergens Tidende (Norway). But Germany is picking up. Hamburger Abendblatt will launch their brand new audio app this spring – built by Lytt.
What is the USP of your startup?
Custom built mobile- and web applications that looks and feels like your media brand.
One of the leading newspaper in Europe when it comes to audio content and podcast, Politiken, chose Lytt to build their audio apps.
Can you describe your typical workday ?
In a start up one great advantage is that no day is like the previous one, but a typical day might look like this: Start the day by checking email and slack to see if there is anything that needs to be addressed straight away. Some conversations (via slack og video) with my developers regarding new features in the platform either requested by our costumers or improvements we want to implement. Then some time taking care of bills, accounting and so on.
After lunch there might be a video meeting with one of our costumers discussing either the development process we are in or evalutatoing current status. Perhaps I receive a new build for one of our costumers and I spend some time checking this one out. Before Corona a work day often included traveling, sales meetings and pitching our company at conferences. Luckily we had two very important newspapers already on board when corona hit, and we have managed to secure our first contract in Germany after the lock down.
Where do you see yourself and your startup Lytt in five years?
I hope that we still deliver best in class audio applications to media companies in Europe. It would be really fun if we were able to expand this audio universe within media groups so that we could offer an audio platform that is built over regional newspapers in a way that a subscriber could get even better access to content by subscribing to sports, culture, American politics etc and within the app get access to all content that is produced within that media group.
What 3 tips would you give to founders?
Believe in your idea and in yourself. If you don’t by into the product nobody else will. But remember to be honest and humble. Make sure to be surrounded by the very best people. It is not a sign of weakness to hire people to help out with the parts that is not within your field of expertise. It will only make your product better! And remember to share the success with these people. You are in this together! Celebrate victories. Even small ones. A good rating on App Store, a updated version with improved features, a celebrating quote given by one of your costumers. It could all call for a small celebration with your team.
In a start up life it might be more though days with contracts slipping, lack of money and people telling you that there is no way you can produce a product that can compete with giants like Spotify, Storytell etc. We have proven them wrong, but it might be hard to hold on to this sitting alone in an office frustrated that you did not get that contract you so much hoped for. So these small celebrations are a prefect way to keep yourself and your team motivated and positive!
Foto: Eivind Senneset
Thank you Linn Dyveke Wilberg for the Interview
Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.