Ever feel overwhelmed when trying to decide which new podcast to start listening to?

With millions of choices, listeners often struggle to determine which shows are worthwhile, and podcast creators can find it difficult to build an audience.

A screengrab from the Apple App store shows the Moonbeam podcast platform interface. (BizWest / Courtesy photo)

Boulderite Mike Chambers, a former professional mountain climber, thinks his new app Moonbeam could be the answer to those problems.

He has teamed with Paul English, cofounder of travel booking site Kayak, to develop the platform, which provides short, curated segments of individual podcasts that users can scroll through quickly to discover new shows.

Think TikTok meets Spotify.

Chambers took an unorthodox path to becoming a technology startup founder.

The Massachusetts native began his career in politics working for former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts), but said he “quickly became disillusioned with the whole scene down in (Washington) D.C.”

From Washington, Chambers headed overseas to form education organizations in Kenya and Haiti, while also leading mountain climbing excursions in far-flung areas around the globe.

All that travel found Chambers spending lots of downtime on planes, which led to his love of podcasts.

During his time working in global education, Chambers met English, who was a donor to his organizations. The pair bonded over their shared admiration of audio media.

“This was around the time Serial, a very popular longform podcast, was launched and we found ourselves constantly sending recommendations back and forth,” Chambers said.

His involvement in the outdoor industry led Chamber and his family to Boulder, where he reconnected with English. The pair decided to collaborate on a podcast platform.

“The problem we were looking to address was this issue of discovery,” he said. “As a consumer, it’s really challenging to find good audio content. … On the flipside of that, from the creator perspective, it’s really challenging to get discovered and build an audience.”

Moonbeam addresses both of these problems by lowering the barrier to entry for listeners searching for the next favorite show.

Rather than having to listen to an entire episode (or simply the beginning of an episode), Moonbeam users can access a highlighted snippet of an independently produced episode. If they like it, they can listen to the whole thing. If they don’t, they can keep scrolling through Moonbeam’s artificial-intelligence-powered platform, which offers suggestions based on what you might like.

“We were largely inspired by TikTok. What TikTok did that was really innovative was revolutionizing the process of discovery,” Chambers said. “With the TikTok platform, it doesn’t matter if you’re a guy in your basement in Iowa or working with a Hollywood production budget. Your ability to be discovered is purely based on your ability to create good content.”

The platform, available on all major app markets, benefits creators not only because it helps with discovery, but also because Moonbeam includes a tipping feature that allows listeners to pay for the content they like.

Moonbeam, launched in June, has more than 12,000 users and more than 400 podcast hosts.

The company, which has about a dozen employees spread across the world, including in a small Boulder office, is in the midst of raising a seed round. Funding, in part, will be used to solidify and expand Moonbeam’s presence in Boulder.

© 2021 BizWest Media LLC