Following Ecomz and Feel22, Podeo completes our trifecta of entrepreneurial triumphs over the COVID pandemic. A fellow TIP alumnus – the company was known as Fallound when it joined the 2nd cycle – today, Podeo is the largest platform for arabic podcasts in the region. “We are reconstructing the broken Arabic podcast industry by enabling the creation of podcasts and democratizing its consumption” said its founder and CEO Stefano Fallaha as he reflected on his startup journey.

Just two years ago, when Podeo was launching, podcasting was a niche market, with a few independent podcasters struggling to produce and monetize their content, Stefano explained. Now fast forward to 2020, and Podeo owns the largest catalog of Arabic audio podcasts with a team of 10 people and 20 creators that operates three entities – Podeo Technologies, Podeo Network, and Podeo Studios – which, together, form a platform that helps manage, distribute, and produce audio podcasts in Arabic.

Podeo Technologies is built to ensure that consumption can be easily accessed, whether on smartphones, smart speakers, in cars, or on flights. Podeo technologies also empowers creators with its advanced hosting platform and listeners with its podcast discovery app, which, using a proprietary and patent-pending recommendation algorithm, is able to personalize content based on interests, moods, and specifically for commute times.

The Podeo Network is the Arab world’s largest network of podcasters, networks, and production houses and Podeo Studios empowers content creators by providing expertise and services such as production, hosting, and even recording studios.

Podeo was already experiencing a stellar rise. The product was recognized by Forbes, Entrepreneur magazine, and Arabian Business, and the company has already forged partnerships with airlines, car manufacturers, radio stations, and telecom companies and the outbreak made a difference in terms of consumption.

As the lockdowns kicked in, demand surged and Podeo rushed to meet it. Namely, the company has experienced a 450% growth since January. There is still a lot of untapped potential in the 500 million strong Arabic speaking market, and Stefano stressed the importance of creating awareness around podcasts by empowering creators and matching their content with the relevant listeners.

The company has also been keen to adapt to the behavior of users in the region, which differ significantly from their global counterparts Stefano explained to me. For instance, users typically used to listen to podcasts during commutes, but that has not affected consumption as it has increased massively. Furthermore, the company has been careful to adapt content as well, with a focus on keeping spirits of its listeners up during the pandemic.

Perhaps the best testament to Podeo’s success in weathering the storm is the fact that the company is closing its round of funding, a process which was not affected by the turbulent times, “be it a recession or a global pandemic,” Stefano concluded.