Float or Founder Podcast

Float or Founder: Episode 1 - Fatima Zaidi of Quill

May 26, 2019 Season 1 Episode 1
Float or Founder Podcast
Float or Founder: Episode 1 - Fatima Zaidi of Quill
Chapters
00:01:00
What is Quill?
00:01:53
Why target podcasters?
00:05:40
Why does podcast advertising have 61%+ conversion rate?
00:07:14
What has been your experience starting a company?
00:08:23
Securing funding as a female founder
00:09:37
Should your company focus on profits or have alternate missions?
00:17:59
On a personal level, what are you most curious about right now?
00:18:14
Scuba diving, sharks, and world travel goals
00:26:35
Back to Quill - what are you most excited about for the platform?
00:29:15
What's the number one skill you rely on the most to succeed?
00:30:29
Can you learn sales?
00:31:28
How do you build an all-star team for your company?
00:36:12
When is the right time for a founder to exit?
00:38:56
Where do you see podcasting going in the future?
00:44:53
Rapid Fire Questions!
Float or Founder Podcast
Float or Founder: Episode 1 - Fatima Zaidi of Quill
May 26, 2019 Season 1 Episode 1
Float or Founder
Fatima Zaidi sits down with Samantha and Lisen of Float or Founder to discuss raising seed capital, sourcing an advisory board, finding a CTO, and swimming with the sharks.
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Fatima Zaidi sits down with Samantha and Lisen of Float or Founder to discuss raising seed capital, sourcing an advisory board, finding a CTO, and swimming with the sharks.

Samantha Lloyd:
0:00
Hey everyone, we want to welcome you to the Float or Founder podcast. This is a Toronto based podcast featuring local founders across all markets. We are your hosts, Samantha Lloyd.
Lisen Kaci:
0:11
And Lisen Kaci. We're going to be bringing you interviews with exciting and hardworking founders. They will be sharing their experiences creating and leading a company. Everything from setting up a board, to securing funding, building their product, and everything in between.
Samantha Lloyd:
0:25
Most importantly, these founders are going to share who they are and what it takes to lead a company. Today we're hosting Fatima Zaidi, the CEO and founder of Quill. Thanks for listening!
Samantha Lloyd:
0:36
Hi, Samantha Lloyd here with Float or Founder. I'm here with my co-host Lisen Kaci and today we have an amazing guest, Fatima Zaidi, here with us. She's the CEO and founder of Quill.
Fatima Zaidi:
0:47
Hi there! Nice to be virtually connected.
Samantha Lloyd:
0:51
So I guess we'll start off asking you a lot of questions about Quill. You have people signing up for Beta, so that's really exciting.
Fatima Zaidi:
1:00
Yeah, it is really exciting! You know it's interesting. We haven't launched, we're looking for like an end of summer launch. We already have 500 podcasts signed up on our Beta platform and they're waiting to get next steps and user testing access. So we're really excited about the traction that we've gotten. And you know, just for context to listeners, Quill is a freelance marketplace, one stop shop for anyone looking to start a podcast. So any freelance services that you need from, you know, renting studio equipment, studio space, editing, research, branding, you name it! We'll, we'll have that service available on our platform with tried, tested and vetted freelancers.
Lisen Kaci:
1:36
Awesome, amazing. So can you tell us a little bit more about the services and kind of the assistance you're gonna provide to podcasters? And also, why podcasters? What is it about podcasts that made you think that this industry - you could provide a service to people?
Fatima Zaidi:
1:53
Yeah, great question. So you know, the infancy I would say of this project started probably a year ago. When I first joined 88 a few years ago (and 88 is my current agency that I am running sales for) one of the new revenue streams I wanted to introduce was podcast marketing. Just because, you know, at the time I'm like, oh, this is cool. It's a fad. It's really up and coming. Why not try it? And then I started looking deeper into podcast marketing and you know, talk to people at Midroll and Gimlet and TPX and found that it's actually pretty insane that podcast advertising traditionally converts at about 61%. That's insane when you think about how traditional advertising only converts at 1-2%. And so we really started, you know, getting really hyper, hyper local with our advertising, with very local podcasts.
Fatima Zaidi:
2:44
I noticed brands that are looking to connect with young consumers like HelloFresh and Casper and Warby Parker are moving aggressively into the podcast marketing space. And so I started doing some research on, you know, what companies are servicing the podcast industry. And I found there's absolutely no competition. It's a very, very isolated market. And it could be for a few reasons. It could be similar to what used to be the cannabis industry years ago or block chain and bit coin where it's just such a new industry that people are scared to dabble in it because they don't know much about it and they're not, not "experts." And so I started looking, talking to a lot of podcasters, including Samantha. I started doing a lot of due diligence and research. I think we've been in the research market discovery phase for almost a year now.
Fatima Zaidi:
3:32
After talking to what is probably thousands of podcasters, we realized that some of the pain points were that when you want to start a podcast, you don't necessarily know where to go. There's no one stop shop for everything that you may need associated with your podcast. And another big gap is advertising and ad revenues. So brands like, Warby Parker and HelloFresh and Telus and Paypal, they're looking for very targeted advertising with a very specific demographic and getting stuck on those demographics, such as who those people are and which podcasts to find them on. So I decided to create a marketplace almost like the freelancer.com or Upwork, a version just specifically for content creators and podcasters. And as time goes on, we'll add more services, but we're starting with the most basic services, which is branding, research, editing, scripting, producing, and studio rental and equipment.
Lisen Kaci:
4:25
That's awesome. And um, can you talk more about the target market that podcasters typically have? What, who is the demographic?
:
4:32
Yeah, so the demographic is typically young, affluent, educated, millennial professionals. It's like a space that's very right for marketers. And you know, the nature of podcast is engaged hose, building trust and rapport with loyal listeners, and then they can in turn, track influence the type of ads you've tracked. And so, you know, it's no wonder that this space is pretty right for brands looking to connect with the young millennials. And I think by the year 2020 millennials are going to account for 70% of the workforce. And so I think it's a no brainer that people need to be focusing a little bit more on podcast marketing. And I think it's interesting because, um, bronze set to double their ad spend on podcast marketing. And so I think we're gonna see a lot more movement in this space. I mean, we're already seeing a ton of movement with Spotify acquiring gimlet or 100 million and cereal, the biggest podcast of all times announcing their exclusive streaming partnership with Pandora.
Lisen Kaci:
5:26
That's awesome, amazing. And with a 60% conversion rates, I mean like you can't blame them. But why so high? Why do you think that podcasts have such high conversion rates, leaving every other marketing channel in the dust?
Fatima Zaidi:
5:41
You know, I think, again, the nature of podcasting is like very intimate where, you know, hosts get really close to your listeners and you care about their product recommendations and you trust them. At the end of the day, they're almost almost like influencer marketing. And I think for that reason people find podcast advertising to be one of the least intrusive types of digital ads, which is probably why we're seeing such a high conversion rate. Almost everyone I talk to, including myself, has listened to ads on podcasts and then purchased, just because they trust the host that they've built a virtual relationship with over time.
Fatima Zaidi:
6:20
Another thing I've noticed about the podcasting community is it's like a 360 feedback loop where they create communities and podcast listeners ended up generating content for a podcast producers. It's like a very 360 community where people can find likeminded people and engage. And if you go on a lot of these podcasts forums, you find that the, the podcasts, you know, while filling their ad spots is a big job for them. And it's a big time commitment. Once they are able to fill those ad spots, people keep coming back. It's the same brands over and over again. Listen to Serial, listen to like Joe Rogan, any of those big podcasts, it's always the same brands marketing on them and it's because they figured it out better than any other brand have that their conversion and acquisitions are going to be really high.
Samantha Lloyd:
7:05
The longevity really is what works for brands. Like the more they stick with the podcast, the better you get over time.
Fatima Zaidi:
7:11
Totally.
Samantha Lloyd:
7:11
So, I wanted to talk to you about starting a company - how has that been?
Fatima Zaidi:
7:15
Yeah, I mean, we're still in infancy. We incorporated in August. But this isn't my first Rodeo. I knew what to expect, you know, I've been scaling Eighty Eight for the last few years. I did that for a startup right before Eighty Eight, which is like my baby, as well. I would say I've always been pretty enterprising, but this is probably the first time where I'm like "all in" and I would say it's been really interesting. It's has its high, it has its lows.
Fatima Zaidi:
7:45
We secured $100,000 in pre-seed funding right before we launched in July, which was really helpful to get us to the point we're at right now. Without capital, it's a lot more challenging when you're bootstrapping. But I would say now that we're just post-MVP stage and gearing up for a seed of one to $1.5 million, that's where the real stress is starting to kick in. The real pressure. It's real money, real investors, you're doing it on your own dime. I've obviously put a lot of my own money into this and I'm living Eighty Eight in a couple months, so I'm going to be all in. So that is definitely a stressful, yeah, it's a really stressful but really exciting time in my life right now.
Fatima Zaidi:
8:24
We haven't completely secured funding and that's been a really interesting experience. I mean, for female entrepreneurs in the funding space in Canada, it's an experience. I have a male business partner, actually Samantha I think you've spoken with him before, Jay. It's really interesting because while this is primarily my company and I'm the CEO, I find it really interesting that VCs typically tend to ask me mostly prevention oriented questions around safety, responsibility, vigilance, and they tend ask Jay questions around promotion oriented questions, advancements, achievements and goals. I don't know whether investors are conscious of this bias or not, but it has a significant impact on startup funding. I'm obviously very hyper aware of it, very involved in this space. But you know, the average deal size in 2017 for female entrepreneurs was 5 million, while the average deal size for male led companies was 12 million, which is more than double.
Samantha Lloyd:
9:22
Yeah, that's significant.
Lisen Kaci:
9:23
So how important would you say is it for a company to have a purpose or a goal or a mission other than just focusing on profits or would you say it's more important to just be profit-oriented?
Fatima Zaidi:
9:37
Yeah. You know, that's a really interesting question because the sales person in me is like, no, it's all about the money. If you're not scaling, you're not thinking about profits, then you're never going to be able to have like real impact in the long run. To really make an impact, sometimes you need the money and the funds. At the same time, I'm very community-driven and so is my business partner, which really helps. We're very aligned. While we're still in infancy and pre-revenue, we've already pledged our equity to the Upside Foundation. So, I don't know if you guys know anything about the Upside Foundation, but they are a not-for-profit organization in Canada where they partner with companies in early stages and sometimes even later stages. These companies pledge 1% of their equity and when they exit or they IPO, 1% of those funds goes to this charity, you can pick a charity. So Upside is sort of the medium and I actually introduced to Jen Couldrey because her story's awesome, amazing. And she's very well connected in the tech community. Some examples of companies who have pledged their equity alongside, you know, myself would be Eighty Eight, Hubba, Ben's Zifkin's at Hubba pledged their equity, Inkbox Tattoos pledged their equity, Tribalscale. There's a ton of tech companies that are getting behind this movement. And you know, 1% when you're starting out is nothing - it's 1% of nothing. 1% of a multimillion dollar company is going to be very hard to pledge. So, it's a really smart strategy getting in early. And that 1% could account from millions and millions of dollars given to a charity of your choice. So I picked that I wanted to give my money to SickKids, so when Quill decides to exit for $1 billion in five years - hopefully, goals! - that money is already locked in for the Upside Foundation to allocate to SickKids.
Fatima Zaidi:
11:32
We are really community driven. Like for us, we want to give back. We believe things come back full circle. We're generous with our contacts, our time. You know, we think it comes back full circle. I really do. To founders out there who are thinking just for profit. I mean that's a...that's a really sad goal.
Lisen Kaci:
11:48
Absolutely. And millennials are one of the largest growing demographics and we care.
Fatima Zaidi:
11:54
We do care. I think there was a research study that I was waiting by to PwC and they actually found that 87% of females and 76% of male millennials ask about workplace policies, mission, values, what causes they can get behind before deciding which companies to work for. So companies who aren't thinking about this aren't just at risk of being left behind. They already are.
Samantha Lloyd:
12:18
And I think that's interesting. There are a lot of stereotypes that millennials are just like on Twitter, making noise, but it's a conscious effort when more job hunting and starting companies.
Fatima Zaidi:
12:27
I mean I think it's a very different time than our parents' and our grandparents' generations where like you stuck to like one brand or you looked at like the big monopoly brands and you wanted to just stick to those and they sort of own the majority of the market. I think now people are really looking to get behind brands that have a purpose and they align with their values. And also when you're working for a place as well, like you want to work for a company that alignes with your values and you see yourself represented there. So I think millennials are very conscious and really because we're 70% of the demographic we're really the only demographic that matters.
Samantha Lloyd:
13:01
Yeah. Are you able to talk about your position at Tech4SickKids and what you do on the board?
Fatima Zaidi:
13:06
Yeah, absolutely. So we have a member council, SickKids was looking for like different ways to raise money. They wanted to create like a new emergency wing. It's such an amazing hospital, like a world class hospital. I feel really fortunate. I don't have kids, but I feel really fortunate to have a hospital that accessible in Canada, if I ever did want to have kids. Just the fact that people are flying in from all over the world, including the US, to get access to this amazing hospital and we literally have it in our backyard. And so [SickKids] decided to partner with the tech community in Canada and the initiative is called Tech4SickKids and they're trying to raise a ridiculous amount of money.
Samantha Lloyd:
13:47
I think it's 25 million.
Fatima Zaidi:
13:49
I think we're halfway there already. So yeah, it's been really great. So what they did is they reached out to influencers and prominent people within the tech community. Erin and I are both on the board. We joined as members and we meet every week and we think of new ways to raise money. So, one initiative that I'm working on right now, every year, 88 hosts Startup Trivia Night for the tech community. And so last year we gave all of our funds to Baycrest Foundation. This year I'm organizing it again and I'm going to give all of the funds to SickKids. We have another initiative that we're working on sometime next year and it's going to be a ball and it's for anyone in the tech community to come out and we're going to do awards. So, like the most like "environmentally conscious" tech company, the most "mission driven," you know, "best workplace" to work for. And it's going to be almost like a Notable [Awards] voting system. That's going to generate a ton of money and we're going to give that to SickKids. It's always like organizing events, increase bringing in sponsors, bringing in partners, just really creative ways to keep raising funds for them and to give back so that we can build this new emergency wing So yeah, that's primarily what I do for them. I would say my initiatives are mostly sales and money focused, which is what I love doing.
Lisen Kaci:
15:04
Yeah. That's perfect. Yeah. Awesome. You were talking about how you were on the board member for the, the SickKids initiative. What would you say is the best quality to have a in a board member?
Fatima Zaidi:
15:17
I think you have to be willing to be really generous with their contacts, which I think is actually a quality, which is really generally important across the board, but especially in a position like that. I find more often than not, I think a lot of people are very competitive in this industry and so they want to hold those contacts in or they feel like there's not enough room for success and growth for everyone. You know, I really challenged that mindset and for me you're only as good as your community and your community really picks you up. And so I think the ability to be really generous with your contacts, like hustle for your board [is key].
Fatima Zaidi:
15:57
Obviously everyone's doing this on volunteer time and we're really busy people and so, you know, really taking the time to carve out and do your outreach and do your outbound and make those introductions event planning takes up a lot of time... But we see a bigger purpose and a bigger mission around it, which is why we do it. So I would say being conscientious and generous with your time.
Samantha Lloyd:
16:18
You did an article with Globe and Mail where you talked about like empowering women who are entrepreneurs and being generous with your contacts is definitely one way you do that. What are other ways that you do that or that you think women can do that to help each other there?
Fatima Zaidi:
16:32
Yeah, I think I've meet a lot of women in my day to day from events I organize. Networking events, coffee meetings, conferences, and I think, you know, every woman I meet has different goals. You know, for Samantha it was to create a world-class podcast and you know, for another friend it could be to build up their speaking profile. I think really any way that I can add benefit and value, whether it's introducing you to other like-minded entrepreneurs who have a really cool story that you can interview or you know, people who want to build their speaking career. I have a ton of people come to me and like mentoring them through that process and then introducing them to conferences that I'm speaking at so they can speak to and build their profile. Or a few people want to article and write, oftentimes they'll write articles and send them to me and I'll first I'll edit and help them figure out what the best article layout would be for publishing. And then I'd actually reach out to journalists for them to get it published. Really it's just about anywhere where you can add value where you've already done it. You've done it for yourself, there's no reason why you couldn't support someone else to get there as well. And I think success is a very arbitrary term, but I think there's enough room in the pot for a lot of people.
Samantha Lloyd:
17:41
Yeah, I agree. I love that. We have some kind of more general question.
Fatima Zaidi:
17:47
Yeah, absolutely. I love general questions.
Samantha Lloyd:
17:49
This was your question [Lisen], I like this one. Tell us something that, of all the world, what are you most curious about right now? Like what do you want to learn? What's kind of like getting your attention recently?
Fatima Zaidi:
18:00
I, oh my goodness, there's so many. I'm a very curious person. I ask a lot of questions and I have had people tell me many times that I should have been a journalist. My calling, I would say narrowing it down. This isn't necessarily work related, but I like want to hit up like the worlds' [dive spots]. So, TripAdvisor and the Global Coral Reefs released a statement of what the 20 best dive spots in the world. So I've done eight of them and I want to finish. I want to hit top 20 before I'm 35 so that's something I'm really curious about exploring - more of the world's like marine life and it's like seeing it -
Both:
18:42
Before it's gone...
Fatima Zaidi:
18:42
Yeah, before it's gone. Such a sad reality. I just visited my 60th country and so by the time I'm 35 (and I'm 30 right now for context to listeners), before I hit 35 I want to get to one hundred. I'm just so curious about the rest of the world and places I haven't been. I have this rule where I won't repeat countries just because there's so much of the world to see and people are always like, but what if you really love somewhere? I might love somewhere even more. That's like my one rule other than home, which is in the Middle East. I'm from Oman. Other than Oman, I will never repeat a country.
Lisen Kaci:
19:14
Where would you like to go that you haven't?
Fatima Zaidi:
19:17
So my number one, absolute number one country that I'm obsessed with is actually it's two, it's one slash very close second, which was kind of the same thing I would say. Number one, would be Mongolia. The Gobi desert is one of the most incredible places I've ever been. It's the most isolating yet gives you so much perspective. You're the only human for miles and miles. You're in no civilization. And it just puts entire life into perspective and makes you feel so insignificantly small. So I've never been to a place with such vast landscapes. Like you could literally pass it desert and then you'd pass green mountains and then you pass a barren land and he'd see wild camels. It's one of the only places in the world that's like, still has wild camels and wild animals roaming around free. It's got the world's largest population of wild camels. I think the only place in the world now left with wild camels. It's an insane experience.
Lisen Kaci:
20:19
I didn't know camels were wild, I thought they were only domesticated now.
Fatima Zaidi:
20:21
Most are domesticated, but they used to be wild and this is the only places left. So we'd be driving for hours and hours and then we'd see a herd of wild camels. It was so cool. I recently went to South Africa as well and I really, really loved it because it has like everything Kruger national park has like the wildlife where you're still close to nature that has the beaches, the good food, the pre culture. And the only reason it's not number one is that it's obviously not diverse enough. There's like a huge shocking disparity and there's so much segregation that it's jarring for me. That is the only reason that South Africa isn't up there with Mongolia and I would say Mongolia has the edge. In terms of countries that I want to visit. I'm going to Egypt and Lebanon in a few months and Egypt I'm really excited about because of just the history. And diving in like the Red Sea. I don't know if you've heard or do you know where like the diving is supposed to be like? It's amazing.
Samantha Lloyd:
21:28
We just watched the documentaries, the BBC documentary that we saw. The entire coast off of uh, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, that entire area is supposed to have amazing coral reefs.
Lisen Kaci:
21:43
They have a lot of biodiversity. Because the waters there are naturally warmer, those coral reefs can survive the rising ocean temperatures.
Fatima Zaidi:
21:54
I'm so excited.
Samantha Lloyd:
21:55
It looks incredible, in the documentary we couldn't believe it. So I can't even imagine in real life.
Fatima Zaidi:
22:01
Yeah. I'm so excited. It's going to be amazing. It's always the places that you don't expect. I was doing a checkout dive in Costa Rica. I didn't like, I've heard good things, but not like, it wasn't like one of the best dives to see. And I literally saw a tiger shark on my own checkout. I was like losing my mind.
Samantha Lloyd:
22:23
That's so cool.
Fatima Zaidi:
22:24
So like I'm pleasantly surprised. I never expected Egypt to be one of those places where like you'd go for diving. But now that I'm going and I started doing my research, I was like, oh, this is a nice surprise!
Samantha Lloyd:
22:38
I don't know if I'll ever get the chance to dive there, but that was such a cool spot that we're like, that's on the list and then Belize. I want to do Belize.
Fatima Zaidi:
22:49
Of course, Belize would be amazing. So do you both dive? Where did you guys get your certification?
Samantha Lloyd:
22:56
We did it here, which was freezing. Did you?
Fatima Zaidi:
22:59
In Lake Ontario? What month did you do it in?
Samantha Lloyd:
23:03
It was the summer was June or July, but it was just miserable.
Lisen Kaci:
23:08
Yeah. I like to think of it in the sense that - it was our test. It's supposed to be a little miserable because then you're lulled into a false sense of security. You got to know that it can kill you.
Fatima Zaidi:
23:23
Yeah, I was already comfortable. But you're right. Maybe it's a good benchmark to start you on - it can only go up from there.
Samantha Lloyd:
23:29
It was the most miserable experience in the water I've ever had and there's nothing to see. I mean, Tobermory has some cool ship[wreck]s, but other than that, there's literally small, the world's smallest sad brown fish by himself. Sitting on a rock. I'm like, this is it...
Fatima Zaidi:
23:50
I'm surprised that you even saw that. Isn't there no visibility in Lake Ontario?
Samantha Lloyd:
23:52
I was impressed. I would say once you hit five feet, there is nothing. Curaçao's our favorite dive spot and it's, I mean in general we love Curaçao. A hundred foot visibility.
Fatima Zaidi:
24:08
I've never been.
Samantha Lloyd:
24:12
Have you been to Aruba? It's those little islands out there. Those three, with Bonaire. They're supposed to all have just amazing diving and we would recommend going there. They're beautiful, beautiful places.
Fatima Zaidi:
24:22
That's amazing. Okay - I'll add it to the list!
Samantha Lloyd:
24:26
[Curacao] predicts by, I think it's 2060, that they'll have no reefs left around the island. They do a lot of conservation and they have a lot of manmade reefs set up where new things are growing on it. But Curacao is suffering horribly just from hurricanes that are coming because of the El Nino.
Fatima Zaidi:
24:44
And so what year will they no longer have...?
Samantha Lloyd:
24:46
They believed 2060.
Fatima Zaidi:
24:47
That's so soon. It hits close to home. I know the Great Barrier Reef is in rough condition right now, too. That's another country that's on my list because of that reason. I like want to get out there to do a couple of dives. It's like one of three places left in the world where they are Great Whites that you see. I mean we went, I went shark diving in South Africa, which was so awesome. And they were telling us like they used to have like a large population of Great Whites, which are no longer there because of global warming. So the temperatures of the water, they can't survive in it anymore, so they all migrated on. Now there's like literally just two places left in the world and Bahamas is one and Great Barrier, like Australia. So sad.
Samantha Lloyd:
25:30
So sad. We love sharks!
Fatima Zaidi:
25:34
So do I!
Lisen Kaci:
25:34
More people die from coconuts than sharks.
Fatima Zaidi:
25:37
I know, I know. It blows my mind that people are so afraid of sharks.
Samantha Lloyd:
25:40
I know you - you're probably never going to see one too, in the ocean. Like the odds of seeing one if you're snorkeling by shore or something, is so rare.
Fatima Zaidi:
25:48
Should you only be so lucky!
Lisen Kaci:
25:50
Sharks think we taste gross. We eat them more than they eat us.
Fatima Zaidi:
25:54
I've been like this close [gestures] to one. Just sat there the most beautiful like, so unassuming. I didn't feel like unsafe or threatened in the slightest and I just, I think they're just really misunderstood. Have you guys watched Sharkwater Extinction? So good. I would 100% recommend watching it. I was in tears. I learned a lot. I am a big fan of sharks and I learned a lot from this documentary.
Lisen Kaci:
26:21
Awesome. Thank you. We'll check that out. Just switch gears a little bit.
Speaker 1:
26:24
We could talk about sharks all day...
Lisen Kaci:
26:30
So, bringing it back to Quill. Can you tell me what you're most excited for about the platform?
Fatima Zaidi:
26:35
Yeah, I mean, there's a few things. I'm really excited to raise capital for it just because I'm a firm believer that it's really difficult to grow companies and scale companies without investing money. I'm not looking to bootstrap and I'm excited to go through the whole raise process. Because it's for my own company, it'll be like a really new and challenging experience, which I think it's high time for me to go through something that I'm like extremely challenged by it. Then I would also say I'm really looking forward to creating a marketplace that connects people. I love connecting people on a day to day. I mean, you've seen it, but a lot of people tell me that like, oh, you know, you should be in like a recruitment type role because you love connecting people. And I do love connecting people, but like with purpose and value.
Fatima Zaidi:
27:21
One of the biggest challenges while working at Eighty Eight was we offer like very niche services and then outside of that we rely on freelancers to come support our projects. And you know, finding really good freelancers is a full time job and like people that you trust, whose work you can get behind, who you want to work on-going with, who you have a good working relationship. I wish there was some sort of marketing freelance like Dotcom platform that was you know, catered towards marketing agencies. I spent probably two weeks a few months ago looking for a UX/UI designer who was the hardest thing for me to find. And you know, I love that this platform is now going to, you know, have vetted, tested, tried and you know, the very strict security platform with freelancers where you know, they're going to be putting out quality work but with also minimum spends. So it's not going to be like, here's like $20, like freelance.com where they don't have minimums. We're going to actually have significant minimums you have to spend. And so freelancers are going to want to be on these platforms to find recurring revenue security too.
Samantha Lloyd:
28:28
When you're a freelancer, actually getting paid through the platform. Getting to work through a platform, it's so much easier.
Fatima Zaidi:
28:35
Totally. And I mean it's cool because like podcasts are obviously a recurring thing. Like every week you have episodes. And so a lot of these services that we're offering are recurring services, so like editing and research and scripting and producing these are things that you need like week to week. It's a great place for freelancers to go on and find recurring revenue, which is probably the number one challenge for freelancers: how to fill their pipeline. So we're solving two problems on this platform for freelancers with filling their pipeline with work. With people who are creating podcasts, we're connecting them with vetted contacts.
Samantha Lloyd:
29:09
To switch up a little bit, but as a founder, what do you think is like the number one skill that you've been using constantly?
Fatima Zaidi:
29:16
Sales. That's the one transferable skill that I think I've used in every role that I've ever been in. And especially now that I'm a founder, I need to constantly sell - whether I'm selling to my investors, whether I'm selling to podcasters, to freelancers, to, you know, community people, partners, conferences. This idea is so much more than just creating a service industry for me. I'm building my personal brand from scratch now. For all these years, I've been like the tech agency salesperson, and now I'm moving into the podcasting industry and I have to start all over again, which I'm excited about. So for me now, I've started writing articles about podcasting. I've started going on BNN and before I was a cannibas trends anchor and now I cover podcast trends. It's like, you know, applying to all the conferences to speak at but not conferences like Collision and Web Summit (which I'm still doing!) but more so conferences like the podcast movement in Orlando, Florida. So it's a very different type of project for me, but it's all encompassing. I'm very all in right now.
Samantha Lloyd:
30:24
How do you think, uh, people can learn sales? Do you think it's a skill people can learn or is it innate?
Fatima Zaidi:
30:29
I think it's a skill people can learn. I think there are personality traits that really help though. So for example, like anxiety, the high sense of urgency being hyper-organized, just that ability to constantly connect the dots and always be on - that's not for everyone. I think some people like are fine working constantly. I think another big quality is not taking things personally, that fear of rejection, which is sales constantly. And so, um, yeah, for me, I learned very early on that you're going to get a lot of nos and rejections in this industry. There are more lows than highs, but the highs are great. And so it's constantly like this for me, you catch me in a bad day or sometimes on a good day, but, um, I approach my sales quotas analytically and I don't let it get to me personally. I keep putting myself out there and remind myself that success is opportunity meets preparation.
Lisen Kaci:
31:24
Being a new CEO and how you go about building like an all star team?
Fatima Zaidi:
31:29
Yeah, the team is the most important part. I would say the biggest challenge currently, I'm looking for a CTO and it's like searching a needle in a haystack. It's so hard to find the right team. And so my philosophy is hire slow, fire fast. I have an awesome rock star team around me. And that's the thing. If you want to build a strong company, an amazing company, you're never going to be able to do it alone. You're only as good as your team. I've learned over the years what kind of leader I want to be. I know I want to lead with empathy and compassion and I've learned a lot of things from Erin [Bury] who is the former managing director at Eighty Eight and she's taught me it's possible to be respected, but also empathetic and kind. I think that's where I start when it comes to recruiting people who are very competent and put out great output but are also kind and contribute to a company's work culture because culture is really important to me.
Fatima Zaidi:
32:22
I would also say like being very hyper honest, transparent, right from the get-go, like what you're looking for. Some companies are about work-life balance, some companies are about community and mission, and some are about output. I would say I'm in a happy medium sweet spot, somewhere in the middle. It is really challenging. I've been looking for a CTO for a while and I still haven't found one. I'm not going to jump the gun. I'm going to make sure that I go through the process of finding someone that I feel really confident about. So the team is a big one.
Samantha Lloyd:
32:52
And how did you go about choosing your advisory board?
Fatima Zaidi:
32:56
Well, Erin was a no brainer. She's been my mentor for almost a decade. I couldn't even imagine starting this company without having her in my advisory team. Peter at Abacus is another one who's just a huge support system. Very well connected. The number one thing I love about him is he is so generous with his contacts and that is something that I'm big on. Whoever I want to be introduced to, he's like [snaps] on it. He'll do whatever it takes. That's the thing - you want a very hands on advisory board. The other few people I have on it. I have, Peter Aceto, who is the CEO CannTrust, the cannabis company and he's the former CEO of Tangerine. He sold Tangerine to ING for I think $3.4 billion. He really understands scaling and exit. That was the reason that I decided to put him on my board because he really understands like the challenges that come with scale and companies, but he's also one of the nicest people I know. So Nice. It's so refreshing to see someone of that caliber who's so successful and just so lovely. And then I have Bruce Croxon on my board. He's like one of the nicest people - you're soon about to find out [Samantha]. Also very generous with their time and resources. And of course - it's Bruce - so you know, he needs no introduction. And Michele Romanow, also another dragon. She's just a powerhouse. She's someone I really respect for multiple reasons. She obviously has the entrepreneurial, serial entrepreneurial, background and is very successful, but she's also really well-rounded. She is into fitness. She's a great partner. She's built multiple companies. She cares about the community. There are so many qualities about her that, you know, if I can think of one person I want to be like, it would probably be her. So it was also a no-brainer to have her on my team. The last person I have on my board is a podcasting expert. She's a podcast producer, her name is Robin and she's produced many podcasts around the world, Betakit being one of them. She's someone when I need like podcast specific advice like, want to buy down ideas, like will podcasters resonate with this, she's someone I go to for a lot of market research. She's been very valuable in this stage of the company. She's a sea of knowledge. Anytime I have a question, like "quick question, what do you think of this?" And I'll get like a 10 page email being like, "I just did a competitive analysis. Here are all these reports, and the market breakdown of XYZ, and if we look at it from this angle and then we look at it from this angle..." And I'm like, "great!" You know, you asked me earlier what kind of people are you going to hire and I want like minded people like that. People who are helpful and people who aren't expecting anything in return. You give out your contacts or resources and believe that it comes around full circle. But I love that she's like that.
Samantha Lloyd:
35:47
That's awesome. It Sounds like you have a great team around you and behind you and everything.
Fatima Zaidi:
35:51
Yeah, I'm really lucky because it takes a village to start something like this and hopefully when we sell for a lot of money we can put it into the community and do something cool with the profits. But right now it's pretty head down in sales.
Lisen Kaci:
36:07
What would you say is the best way to scale a company and when's the right time to exit?
Fatima Zaidi:
36:14
Right time to exit is always a tricky question only because it depends on what your goals are. Are you looking to build like a really big brands or are you looking to make a lot of money in a short duration of time and retire and live on Curacao? I'd be lying if I said that for me it was to build a really big brand. I think it's the latter. That is, I want a quick exit. When I say a quick exit, it would be like a five year exit. The reason I want a quick exit is as much as I love the podcasting industry, I want to spend the rest of my life doing community and philanthropic work. I'd like to start a not-for-profit. That's my end goal. I know exactly what I want to start in that. So for me, this is a step to get to the next step. And that step is like, you need money. And so for me the goal is quick exit and that's why it makes sense. And when I get the right offer, Which is why I've started having really strategic conversations with investors within companies who are, you know, in the same space as us and obviously years ahead and they are potentially interested in making a strategic investment so that they could acquire us down the line. And so we're already having those conversations now because we are very clear about what our exit plan is going to be.
Samantha Lloyd:
37:28
Smart. Do you think every founder going into needs to know what their or if they have an exit strategy or anything like that?
Fatima Zaidi:
37:35
I mean it significantly does help. I mean you don't know which way the market's going to take you and you know if you're going to have to pivot. But I think it helps because when you're creating your sales plan, your MVP strategy and your go to market strategy, I think you really want to know do you want to focus on slow and steady? Do you want to focus on acquiring as many users as possible? Do you want to focus on a lot of marketing and like a huge marketing dump so that you can scale? I mean it really depends. I think it does help to know early on what you want. A lot of people don't and I feel like that's fine not to put that pressure on yourself. It's obviously an iterative process and you figure it out. But I think it just helps. In my case that I knew I could also be that I have had a lot of exposure to startups and so I know what it's going to take to build a really big brand. It's like the Shopify, the Tobis, the Ben Zifkins of the world who work 24/7. I don't necessarily want that. I love the podcasting community, but I'm more passionate about like giving back to the community. For me it's a no-brainer that I want a quick exit.
Lisen Kaci:
38:37
Just to ask a few more questions about podcasts. From 2014 to 2018, there's 113% growth in podcasts, in the industry in general. Where do you see it going in the future? You see it slowing down, speeding up?
Fatima Zaidi:
38:58
There's 600,000 active podcasts and in just the US alone. 40 million people are listened to podcasts every week. I definitely think the revolution is here to stay. I think one thing is that the boom podcasts has been supported by the boom in technology. Just the fact that now we have car stereos that connect seamlessly to our feed and you know, Apple's preinstalled podcast APP, which has had the highest growth out of any of the brand's products. Out of everything they've put out, their podcast APP has been the number one in terms of popularity and growth. So I think that's definitely really helped the boom in podcasts. The continued growth we're seeing in Spotify, Pandora, and Stitcher, between curation and discoverability and a better user experience. I think these companies and brands are going to bring in the next 40 million users.
Fatima Zaidi:
39:47
There are a few things that I want to see done better. I think podcasting like a lot of other industries needs better diversity and so I would like to see more shows represented through diverse voices. But I think with initiatives like Google has like this new Podcast Creator Initiative, where they want to bring in more diverse people. I think through that we're probably going to see more diverse types of programming, which I'm excited about. But I do think the revolution is here to stay and I mean the numbers kind of speak for itself. The industry has grown 10 to 20% year after year. And so I think we're, we're going to see a lot of them.
Lisen Kaci:
40:25
Where would you say people are listening to podcasts? Is it in the home, in the car, on the bus at work? Uh, which what's the best best that kind of demographic to target or do you have to have a more be challenged chat channel? The approach?
Fatima Zaidi:
40:40
Well, the format is uniquely situated to fit into our busy lives. You know, like that long commute to work or that session to the gym can now be accompanied by a podcast that teaches us and offer something of value, that and coaching, on our busy times. It allows us to be productive in our busy schedules and it's also presented to us and entertaining and narrative ways. So I think any time where, before people were listening to some music in the car in long drives and at the gym, going for a run, I think now people are supplementing that with/replacing that with podcasts. It's educational. And while a lot of us don't have time to sit down and read a 10 page article anymore we may listen to that article in bite sized chunks if presented in an entertaining and narrative way. And so I think those would be the formats. And I would say if you're trying to reach out to - when you say reaching out to a demographic, do you mean like how do you connect the podcast listeners or?
Lisen Kaci:
41:36
I mean more so like, do you specifically target at people like that are going to listen to a podcast in the car or it doesn't work that way? People usually start at home, middle in the car, finish up at work. Do people listen to it at many different places, would you say?
Fatima Zaidi:
41:56
So, I've seen a lot of studies done where they tried to break down where most of the consumption happens. And I'd say probably the commuter market is like in the biggest one. So whether you're on the train or you're on like the subway or you're driving in a car. I don't have to commute. I live like five minutes away from my work. And so I would say for me the biggest time that I listened to podcasts is at the gym, it's like an hour every day that I know I'm going to get my podcast time in. I've been interviewing a lot of people who listen to podcasts, as well, and they say before going to bed because it's almost therapeutic and now people are getting into the mindset that they don't want screen time before going to bed. And so they're replacing screen time with podcast consumption. I find it really interesting because I was having a conversation with someone about this a couple months ago and the way people are consuming media is changing. And so this woman I was chatting with for Quill was for market research. She's like, I listen to podcast before I go to bed and I find it helps me sleep better. And I started doing that actually and it really does. It's valid because I think normally I'm on the phone before going to bed and adding another screen. It's reducing my screen time before bed, which actually does help me sleep better. I know there's been tons of studies that have shown if you cut down on your screen time just before going to sleep, it really helps. Now people are either reading or they're consuming an audio.
Samantha Lloyd:
43:26
Very cool. Alright. So, I guess for a final question before we go into the "fast round" that you gave us the idea for. Is there anything that we didn't ask you that you really want to talk about?
Fatima Zaidi:
43:38
You know, I think, I mean we've covered a lot in today's podcast. I think you guys have done an awesome job at asking some really difficult questions that I have had to think about and wing through. But I would say the one thing is sales advice for people is: the best way to be a salesperson is to not be a salesperson. I think salespeople have a really bad reputation for being shark-y and, you know, looking to make a quick buck. And I would say that if that's you, you're doing it all wrong. It is possible to be authentic and genuine and build relationships and not be a grimy salesperson, but still be really successful. And I think the best advice I've gotten from my mentors is the best way to be a salesperson is to not be a salesperson. You know, look to see if you can actually solve someone's problem. And if you can't, then you shouldn't be working with them. It's so important to be authentic and real and honest with people. And I think it comes around full circle. I mean, even at Eighty Eight I'm notoriously famous for turning down business if I don't think it's a perfect fit. I find by having that attitude, it comes around, [your customers] send you referrals, they bring you more business. It actually really helps.
Samantha Lloyd:
44:49
That's awesome. So now we're gonna go into the fast questions - we're going to switch each one so it's going to be so intense (laughter). Alrighty. So first, what's your, you've answered this, but your favorite place you've ever traveled?
Fatima Zaidi:
45:04
Mongolia.
Lisen Kaci:
45:04
What's your favorite diving destination?
Fatima Zaidi:
45:07
Colombia.
Samantha Lloyd:
45:08
And would you live anywhere but Toronto?
Fatima Zaidi:
45:11
Yes.
Samantha Lloyd:
45:12
Where?
Fatima Zaidi:
45:13
Bangkok.
Lisen Kaci:
45:13
What's the best street to be in a Toronto?
Fatima Zaidi:
45:17
I would say Queen Street.
Samantha Lloyd:
45:19
And what's your go-to Karaoke Song?
Fatima Zaidi:
45:22
Oh my goodness, this is so funny. But um, starships by Nicki Minaj (laughter).
Lisen Kaci:
45:29
Do you remember what's the last song you listened to?
Fatima Zaidi:
45:33
Um, I think it was, um, oh my God, this is so embarrassing. But the Backstreet Boys, No Place Like Home.
Samantha Lloyd:
45:41
What's an artist you want to see live, but you've never gotten the chance to?
Fatima Zaidi:
45:44
I'm actually going to J. Lo's concert in a couple months. My sister just got me tickets today and I'm so excited!
Lisen Kaci:
45:52
What's the last movie you watched?
Fatima Zaidi:
45:55
Shark Water Extinction.
Samantha Lloyd:
45:56
Very nice. And the last book you read?
Fatima Zaidi:
45:59
Currently reading, Becoming by Michelle Obama.
Lisen Kaci:
46:00
And what about last podcast you listened to?
Fatima Zaidi:
46:02
Aaron Parker, The Lucky Few and actually just listened to one after that. I's like the last Serial season, the latest one.
Lisen Kaci:
46:10
What the last TV show that you binge watched? That you could not stop watching?
Fatima Zaidi:
46:15
I binge watched the entire, all the seasons of Game of Thrones in the last two months. I just started two months ago from season one and started the books and I've read the books and watched the entire seasons ready for May's new launch, so Game of Thrones.
Samantha Lloyd:
46:31
That's impressive. Coffee or tea?
Fatima Zaidi:
46:35
Tea.
Samantha Lloyd:
46:35
Then how do you take your tea?
Fatima Zaidi:
46:38
English breakfast, skim milk, and sweetener - one.
Samantha Lloyd:
46:43
And what's your ideal meal?
Fatima Zaidi:
46:46
Pizza and - no! And Tacos!
Lisen Kaci:
46:49
The last place you got delivery from?
Fatima Zaidi:
46:53
Amazon always.
Samantha Lloyd:
46:53
And what's an event that you're really excited to attend this year?
Fatima Zaidi:
46:57
Collision Conference.
Samantha Lloyd:
46:58
And what about for speaking? [inaudible]
Fatima Zaidi:
46:58
Collision Conference (laughter)!
Lisen Kaci:
47:01
Who's the best boss you've ever had?
Fatima Zaidi:
47:04
Erin Bury.
Samantha Lloyd:
47:05
And what was your first job?
Fatima Zaidi:
47:06
I did sales for an energy company.
Lisen Kaci:
47:08
What is your guilty pleasure song? We know the Backstreet Boys...
Fatima Zaidi:
47:13
I would say Backstreet Boys, Chances.
Samantha Lloyd:
47:16
And finally, do you have a pet?
Fatima Zaidi:
47:18
I did. I don't anymore, but I'm actually, we've been shopping around all weekend for rescue dogs right now. I'm currently fostering.
Lisen Kaci:
47:29
Do you have any names picked out?
Fatima Zaidi:
47:32
Arby. Arby our little mutt! We have to find him. We don't know what he's going to look like.
Lisen Kaci:
47:37
[Mutts are] the healthiest!
Fatima Zaidi:
47:39
But I mean we're going to take whatever is available. We don't care about the breed.
Samantha Lloyd:
47:45
You're going to try and find in Toronto?
Fatima Zaidi:
47:47
Oh, definitely. Yeah. We're just going to go to the Humane Society or Scruffy Paws. One of those places.
Samantha Lloyd:
47:55
Well that concludes everything! We discussed everything from sharks to dragons... Back to sharks again. (laughter)
Fatima Zaidi:
48:02
Yay - that was so fun!
Samantha Lloyd:
48:04
We wanted to thank you so much for coming in, Fatima. We had such a great time interviewing you for Float or Founder and thank you so much to our listeners.This was the very first of many episodes for Float or Founder. We are so excited to share more founder stories with you.
Both:
48:18
Until next time!
What is Quill?
Why target podcasters?
Why does podcast advertising have 61%+ conversion rate?
What has been your experience starting a company?
Securing funding as a female founder
Should your company focus on profits or have alternate missions?
On a personal level, what are you most curious about right now?
Scuba diving, sharks, and world travel goals
Back to Quill - what are you most excited about for the platform?
What's the number one skill you rely on the most to succeed?
Can you learn sales?
How do you build an all-star team for your company?
When is the right time for a founder to exit?
Where do you see podcasting going in the future?
Rapid Fire Questions!