How Jörn “Joe” Menninger, Founder and Host of Startuprad.io is bringing the German startup scene in English to the world.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jörn “Joe” Menninger: We are doing fine. The pandemic is hitting Frankfurt and the Rhine-Main area, but we are all safe and well.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Startuprad.io.
Jörn “Joe” Menninger: I finished vocational training in Germany as a bank clerk and went on to study and work in Germany, China, Spain, and the US. I graduated with a BBA in finance in 2006 from Midwestern State University in Texas via an exchange program with my University in Germany. I also graduated from my German university Umwelt-Campus Birkenfeld/FH Trier, in 2008 with a Diploma degree. I went on to become a management consultant in financial services, with a speciality in capital markets, investment banking, and asset management. In 2018 I shifted jobs with my employer and became a full-time startup scout. This job was cut end of 2020.
In my spare time, I started podcasting in 2012 with a German-only startup podcast. I started Startuprad.io back in 2014 as an English-only information source in the German startup scene. The podcast was a carve-out of the other (now defunct) podcast.
We did a re-launch of Startuprad.io with a new team in 2018, and I am running it as a side business, together with Christian Fahrenbach (a freelance journalist living in New York City – The co-host of the monthly startup news) and Pedro Ferreira (Founder of the FrankfurtValley.App tech blog – Our community manager).
Then in 2020, faced with a hard decision, I decided to venture out for myself, and so I started Startuprad.io on January 1st, 2021, as a full-time business.
Since 2018 we scored in Apple’s, Sticher’s, and Spotify’s podcast charts in 52 countries for more than 2.800 days.
In 2020 analytics company Chartable scored us as a global top 100 science podcast, a global top 150 tech podcast, and a global top 750 business podcast.
How does Startuprad.io innovate?
Jörn “Joe” Menninger: Startuprad.io is an audio and video podcast, which has been called The Authority on German Startups by other startups. We bring at least two English-only interviews and once a month a news wrap-up of the German-speaking startup scene – all in English.
With our podcast, we want to bring the German startup scene in English to the world, and we got closer to this goal by being approved as one of the very few foreign podcasters on Mainland China’s Ximalaya platform in summer 2020.
Our newest innovation was started in February 2021: The world’s first internet radio station dedicated to startups and tech companies (www.startuprad.io/radio).
In the beginning, we provided the program all by ourselves, but now we are cooperating with an ever-increasing number of international podcasts, radio stations, and platforms to bring you the best content possible. We have syndicated shows with the IBGR Network, an internet radio station based in Virginia, and continue to look for more media partners and cooperations.
There is also now an Alexa Skill so that you can hear our Startuprad.io station 24/7 via your smartspeaker.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Jörn “Joe” Menninger: So far, we have been blessed by all being healthy and well. Our team has always been set up as remote-only, and so our operations have not been affected – other than lower than usual internet speed for interviews.
On the other hand, the pandemic made more and more people podcast listeners, and we increased our subscriber base by more than 75% in 2020 alone.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jörn “Joe” Menninger: As an entrepreneur, one always has to make difficult choices. One of the most difficult ongoing ones is denying more than 80% of the startups that reach out to us an interview on our podcast. They are either not really fitting in our niche (scalable tech companies), or they are not mature enough (post-seed, market-ready product), or they are from the wrong geography (we are currently only providing news and interviews from the German startup scene).
We are well aware that many companies that we turn down will never get international press coverage again, but this is the positioning that has proven to be working for us.
Note: Only our podcast has the focus on Germany, not the radio station.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Jörn “Joe” Menninger: We work with normal office tools, such as Shotcut and Audacity, to edit our podcasts. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the remote recording tool Riverside and the ai noise filter Krisp have proven to be invaluable.
Despite that, we are working with Socialbee to provide 24/7 news on social media (Twitter, Linked In, Instagram).
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jörn “Joe” Menninger: We are the only English-only podcast covering the German startup scene in-depth.
Many people don’t realize that (according to the most recent startup survey in Germany), only 20% of German startups are headquartered in Berlin. We try to have a 20% share of Berlin-based startups but also bring our audience interviews with companies or guests no one else has heard about before – but they will in the future.
Your final thoughts?
Jörn “Joe” Menninger: Stay safe everybody, you only have one life!