American Univesity of Beirut

How to launch a multi-million dollar startup

​​​​April 25, 2021​​

​Stefano Fallaha is helping develop the budding Arabic podcast ecosystem, bringing Arabic language content creators, listeners, and brands together through Podeo. 

How did you come to found Podeo? 

Well, first I founded Fallound during my second year at AUB, as an applicant to a FIFA World Cup Qatar accelerator, meant to fund start-ups that would improve the experience of visitors during the tournament. My co-founders and I launched an app on iOS and Android that would aggregate and personalize audio content according to commute time. So, listeners would drive from one stadium to the next and get time-tailored content. It didn’t gather enough momentum in the MENA region then, since most of the content was in English (however, we have an exciting announcement in regards to this product soon). That’s when we realized the large demand for Arabic content. 

We then founded Podeo and optimized the development of the platform from the learnings and experiences at Fallound. The product gained massive traction, achieving more than 3,000% growth in user listens in a couple of months. 

Just last month, we secured a funding round led by Razor Capital with co-investment participation from another venture capital firm, Globivest, and various strategic investors, giving the company a multi-million dollar valuation. This was a very proud moment, really a team effort.

So, what is Podeo?

We’re a podcast platform dedicated to distributing, managing and producing Arabic podcasts. We produce data-backed content, enabled by our patent-pending technology which allows us to better connect with listeners through our own audio content player, the Podeo app. Podeo reaches roughly two to three million listeners monthly.

We have the largest library for exclusive podcasts, with hundreds of local and regional shows; education, entertainment, health, comedy, culture, every imaginable category. 

How do you connect with audiences? 

We distribute our exclusive content on the Podeo app, which is currently free of charge. We have an exciting roadmap of features to enable creator-listener engagement and allow for a more personal listening experience. 

When it comes to scaling Podeo, we’ll be launching premium packages soon with several telecom operators across the Arab region. This will allow us to further monetize our products. We’re also exclusively connected to various platforms which allows us to reach new demographics.

How do you acquire content? What about copyright? 

Our tech and data team are constantly on the lookout for best performing categories, and then our content team recruits producers and hosts for those verticals. Our talent acquisition team, for example, will go and sign influential media, entertainment, and education leaders.

We actually sign all of our creators to our US entity for copyright purposes. This means US copyright laws apply. Our other subsidiaries, such as the UAE, KSA or Lebanon entity, are utilized for local operations. 

What advice do you have for would-be entrepreneurs? 

To just try and solve a real problem. It’s easy to fall into a trap of pursuing some nice idea that doesn’t solve an actual problem. Also, most importantly, find partners who complement your skills.

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