Many of us started companies to solve a problem that was staring us in the face. Others have a life event that triggers the inspiration. Rachel Downey needed more flexibility and a better work/life balance after her daughter was born at twenty-six weeks with amniotic band syndrome. Leaving the NICU almost 3 months later, Rachel decided to start her own company. Why? Because the places she worked touted a compassionate culture, but when push came to shove it was only lip service. Instead of trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, Rachel knew no other business would put her family first, and she decided to create the environment she was looking for in a company. Swearing to live by, and practice, what she preached – unprecedented trust in employees and real work/life balance – Rachel started Share Your Genius, the first podcasting company that services agencies, based in Indianapolis, IN. The first podcast that she was a part of launching was SalesTuners in 2016. The company officially formed in 2017.
Professional microphone and sound waveform on screen
Mary Juetten: What problem are you solving?
Rachel Downey: Podcasts are taking off as a new avenue for brands to create connections and have meaningful conversations with their target audience without asking them to stare at a screen. Marketers are looking to add podcasting to their efforts but they don’t know where to start. We help business to business (B2B) marketing teams develop and execute an original podcast so they can take a bold stride toward utilizing a podcast as the content engine for their other marketing initiatives.
Who are your customers and how do you find them?
Downey: We work with B2B brands around the globe – such as Conga, Emarsys, and Emplify – empowering them to stand out from the competition by developing meaningful connections, creating stories worth selling, and building communities through audio storytelling.
Juetten: How did past projects and/or experience help with this new project?
Downey: Creating stories to attract an audience is in my DNA. I’ve been a performer since I was a child, so naturally, I became a Theatre major. After college, I had the ability to work major events (ex: ESPYs) and travel with world-class athletes (LPGA) providing me with the unique ability to see how powerful a connection can be for fans and audiences alike. Building off this observation, I took that experience into working with a marketing agency helping brands generate leads and start conversations using video, webinars, and text-based content.
Fast forward to today, with the passion for creating stories, and the added necessity to work remotely so that I could be available for my daughter, I found it possible to tell stories through podcasting. And not just tell stories for the sake of storytelling, but to leverage the medium for creating connections that drive businesses forward.
Juetten: Who is on your team?
Downey: We currently have 6 people on the team and looking to expand. We’ve doubled in headcount over the last year and have a goal to add by the end of the year.
- Jim Brown, Co-founder
- Kiel Hauck, Director of Creative Strategy
- Kate Taylor, StorySeller
- Mike Fisher, Sound Designer
- Peyton Muffley, Podcast Connector
Juetten: Startups are an adventure — what’s your favorite startup story?
Downey: One of my most fond memories is finding out I was pregnant with my second baby two months after launching the business. I remember being so nervous to share the unexpected news with my business partner. Instead of thinking of this as a roadblock, I just leaned into reality and found more motivation for building this business. And after she was born, I had a new client kick-off meeting and distinctly remember timing it exactly so that I could launch the project while making it in time for nursing my new baby. The best part? The client knew that needed to happen and respected my time.
Juetten: How do you measure success and what is your favorite success story?
Downey: Measuring success means a few different things for us. Specifically, we work off weekly scorecards based on our quarterly organizational goals related to revenue and the overall success of our client shows. As a team, this keeps us aligned and focused, ensuring we are all rowing in the same direction (metaphorically speaking).
Juetten: Any tips to add for early-stage founders?
Downey: Network. Meet with as many people who will meet with you and provide them with value. the power of a conversation cannot be understated. Additionally, focus on being a subject matter expert in your field. Research your industry as well as the profile of your potential buyer.
Juetten: And of course, any IP horror stories to share?
Downey: When I first started, I was excited to share with anyone who would listen to our big ideas and vision for the company. While that excitement isn’t inherently a bad thing, just remember that those people you’re sharing with might absorb what you’re telling them and you might see those ideas manifest themselves in places you didn’t authorize. For example, the language I would tout to sell our vision is now found on other podcast-related websites which causes potential confusion in the marketplace. Some great advice I got early on was, it’s hard to be original. So once you’ve figured out what sets you apart, just be the best at offering that thing because everyone else will become copycats.
Juetten: What’s the long-term vision for your company?
Downey: Our long-term vision is to create branded content at scale, leveraging our creative expertise and ability to tell stories worth selling, all as the premier full-service podcast agency in the United States.
Thank you to Rachel for sharing her personal story; inspiring to new parents and founders alike. #onwards.