Episode 09

Santosh Sankar

One Venture Capitalist’s Advice to Startups on How to Build a Media Brand

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In this episode Adam (@AdamVazquez) and Carlton (@CarltonRiffel) are joined by Santosh Sankar (@santoshsankar) who is the Founding Partner of Dynamo Ventures. Santosh discusses his story of growing the leading Supply Chain podcast, how content compounds, and the advice he shares with his portfolio companies.


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Show notes:

* (9:20) How Santosh is disrupting Supply Chain VC through content

* (15:36) Training founders how to articulate a story effectively

* (18:32) Building the industry’s biggest and best show

* (27:02) The power of content compounding

* (39:55) Have You Heard

Links & Resources: 


Transcription generated by Otter.ai

Adam Vazquez 00:06
Santosh Sankar is the founding partner of Dynamo ventures which is a venture capital firm investing in founders building startups in the supply chain and mobility spaces. dynamos equipped to support founders through the seed stage in their effort to transform global trade and commerce. He’s also the host of the leading supply chain industry podcast the future of supply chain, which has published over 100 conversations with founders in and around the supply chain industry and then personally and that’s just become a good friend of mine and he’s the very first customer of the heard pods production service. So during our conversation, we discussed how Santosh has built systems in order to create consistency in publishing content, the compounding effects of content and how he’s enjoyed them. And also how he advises his startups to leverage content that closes business. Santhosh is one of my favorite people that I get to work with regularly and I think that came through in our conversation. So please enjoy this episode with Santosh Sankar.

Adam Vazquez 01:27
Alright, welcome back into continents for closers, Carlton. We are on Episode What is this? Nine?

Carlton Riffel 01:34
Yeah. Wow. I mean, once you make it to the big one, zero, then we know this thing will stay running on its own pretty much.

Adam Vazquez 01:42
Yeah, that’s how it works. Once you hit double digits, it’s just a you enter the club. I think it is like something like 70% of podcasts will make it past episode 8%. Like that’s a

Carlton Riffel 01:53
very high percentage. It’s like pod fade what they refer to as pod fail like

Adam Vazquez 01:58
that. Okay, and so yeah, so we’re about to hit 10. And our guest today, as I mentioned in the intro is Santosh Sankar, who is actually the first customer that we ever produced a podcast for going back now three years at this point. And we had been doing our show previous to that but then Santosh jumped on board as our first production customer and so it’s only right that as we as we enter this near double digit episode on

Carlton Riffel 02:25
this occasion

Adam Vazquez 02:28
we bring back the OG I think

Carlton Riffel 02:30
he actually just hit his 100th episode, so Wow, that’s actually a marker of significance. I’m pretty sure if you make it to 100 you’re doing something right.

Adam Vazquez 02:40
Yeah, and he definitely has been we’ll get into it in the conversation but he’s been not only our first but the most consistent for that we work with and as seen the benefits of that, but what do you have verse for the the lame game, the icebreaker before we get into to Santosh his conversation? Yeah, we

Carlton Riffel 02:55
need to come up with like a combination of those two things like the I don’t know, some Lane breaker. Yeah, the lane breaker. I like that. Not all people that podcast are avid podcast listeners, right. And I know we’ve talked about this a little bit. When we start creating more, sometimes we stop stop consuming as much. I guess two questions for you, Adam. One One is, how many podcasts Do you think you listen to right now?

Adam Vazquez 03:22
Man, I think it definitely changes like you just said. So like there’s there I would say there’s times where I’m more in consuming mode right now would not be one of them. I probably I regularly die like I don’t I don’t miss an episode of my first million because we talk about that regularly. You and I and then I’ll listen to a lot of our show or a lot of the shows that we produce, like for quality control stuff. But aside from that, and maybe the pump podcast here and there I really don’t have a ton of shows that I’m listening to at the moment. What about I know this is gonna be a different answer for you.

Carlton Riffel 03:53
Yeah, no, I’m actually feeling guilty as of late because I kind of slowed down too and okay, I’m about to have like podcast forgiveness day where I just, like, clear out all the unlisted to your podcast, I just hit like the 100 mark for like, episodes that are in my queue. No, I

Adam Vazquez 04:11
haven’t listened to Yeah,

Carlton Riffel 04:13
I think I think there’s like a total of 40 shows something like 42 shows that I’m subscribed to. Yeah, and I try to listen to but there’s just no way I think once I started having one that’s like daily and there’s this there’s this one that has like purple artwork, cover art. And yeah, been loading up my queue. I just can’t keep up with it. No, I’m referencing content is for closers. And Adam has been just pumping out the content like a madman on the daily snack, so if you don’t listen to those, you’re missing out. They’re just I still listened to him just because I want to hear your voice even though I don’t Wow. I already know it’s coming. But I it’s good.

Adam Vazquez 04:55
Glad to hear it. Okay, that was the first question you said you had.

Carlton Riffel 04:58
Yes. The second one is What’s your favorite podcasts out of out of those that you listen to? What’s your favorite?

Adam Vazquez 05:04
Well, I would say now it’s my first million. But if I had to go back to my favorite ever, which gives me a lot more options, I always go back to the very first show called Startup by gimlet by gimlet media. Yeah, I think that one was the first one that really captured my attention as to like what podcasting could be in and around the business world I had listened to was the popular podcast. Everyone know, the one that about had done. So yeah, yes. Yeah. I had gotten into it through that. But startup really kind of showed me like, oh, okay, this is how this can work as a documentary and as a marketing tool, and all those things. So that’s my favorite all time. What about you?

Carlton Riffel 05:44
Yeah, so that’s a hard question. But I love my first million today, if you haven’t listened to it, and you’re in the business, that’s like a incredible show. It’s different format. And most so I do like that, I think, probably. Yeah, I would say my, my equal favorite, or the one that I’m surprised by the most is a podcast called econ talk with Russ Roberts. He’s kind of not not a super famous economist, but famous enough and well known in his field. But he just has interesting conversations, the tagline for it is conversations for the curious. And he just does a great job being engaged with his guests. He has a variety of different viewpoints on there, he does a good job of talking to them in a way that’s like, argumentative, but not combat. So he’ll have different people that are authors. It’s not all about econ. But yeah, I surprisingly, like a few different economist podcasts. So that’s kind of like a weird niche for me that I found I enjoy.

Adam Vazquez 06:44
Yeah, I think that’s what makes Santos his show. And he gets into it. But so unique and dynamic, I guess, is that it’s not just a freight podcast. It’s not just the venture capital podcast of which, individually, there’s a ton of those that exist out there. But he does bring in the economic components of freight, he does bring in, obviously venture capital, because that’s what he does on a daily basis. But he’s constantly about tech and robotics and all these different industry elements that ultimately impact his show. And being able to pull in all those threads and sort of be a polymath like he has has allowed him to create 100 episodes and have the compounding effects that that’s given him so far.

Carlton Riffel 07:24
And he really genuinely, genuinely is curious. He’s interested in what the companies are doing and how they’re advancing and moving forward. So he starts talking a little bit about his history and and what Dynamo is, but then he gets pretty quickly into the power of story in content and what that looks like for the stakeholders or what that means to the stakeholders. And then going from that to the compounding value of content creation. He’s got a good, good amount of experience there. So he talks about that and then kind of finishes up with if you’re somebody who’s trying to get started. What are some good ways to get started by starting small and owning your content?

Adam Vazquez 08:01
Cool. Well, let’s get to it with Santosh Sankar from Dynamo Ventures. Alright, we’ve got Santosh Sankar, here on the show from Dynamo ventures. Thanks for joining us, Santosh.

Santosh Sankar 08:15
awesome to be here. Thanks for including me here.

Adam Vazquez 08:19
And of course, we, in some ways, we might not be here, we’re it not for Santosh, I left VaynerMedia partner with Derek. And one of the first meetings we were able to get somehow was was with you pretty. This is probably like four and a half years ago now. And bounce ideas around what’s the different content we can do? And ultimately, you ended up becoming our first podcast customer. So huge, huge thanks to you for all your support over the years, obviously, and and also want to talk to you about what you’ve built through your different content streams over the years with Dynamo.

Santosh Sankar 08:52
Yeah, sure. And I’ll, I’ll kind of echo that and say, we wouldn’t be here as a podcast, if it wasn’t for you. Right. And ultimately, while people come and say, You’re the voice Santosh of the future supply, I appreciate you’re really the brain and the ideation behind it. Right. And a lot of people laugh, but I’m not a huge podcast consumer I consume here and there. But there’s irony behind that. Because every week, I’m good to send you at least one recording. So we can kind of spread the word and kind of build upon this vision of future supply chain.

Adam Vazquez 09:32
Yeah, so okay, I want to I want to maybe take a step back and dig into that for a second. So just to give some quick context, maybe tell us what is the future of supply chain? Why why did you kind of start it and and yeah, just that process. What are the other content fingers you have going through through the internet?

Santosh Sankar 09:51
Yeah, yeah. So I’ll take one step back further, so people have some baseline but myself I have a couple other partners and we are investing in seed stage supply chain technology businesses simply put, so we’re usually one of the first investors that a founding team raises from. And our job is to be on this journey with the founding team in order to execute on their vision and ultimately realize their vision of building a industry defining business. And as investors, obviously that means that we’re able to ultimately be party to companies that ultimately are valued at a billion dollars or Bultmann. Sometimes people define Vc as a particular type of jet fuel. But with that, around your question on Comm we started this whole or other we ended up creating our fund before this whole trend of move from the valley operate remotely invest away from the valley movement started, right that it’s more of an 18 month phenomenon. And I think it’s kind of starting to dwindle, or at least the talk of it. But when we showed up in 2016, we’re a group of guys in Chattanooga, Tennessee, telling people that we’re going to do West Coast style venture investing, but just in supply chain, what we knew and believed we could add value in. So it’s very important to actually think about your brand, about how you elevate your brand. But equally, how do you elevate what you’re actually focused on supply chain. So early on, we instantiated social media, I can’t say we’re great at it or regimented behind it. We had a newsletter equally can’t say we had good discipline around it back then. We had a blog. God knows what was on that blog. It’s certainly not what it is today. And we didn’t even think about podcasting, right. Like I did not think about podcasts, probably till a couple years after we even started the firm when we had a series of conversations, Adam, but today, we have a weekly podcast, the future supply chain, where we bring founders, corporate executives, investors interested in the space are operating the space to practically talk about what’s happening, but putting the lens of technology around supply chain, right, a part of the economy, it’s 10% of the economy. Right. So it kind of makes sense. You have content, podcasts, yep. Journalism outlets, blogs devoted to it. But we have a a weekly newsletter that we put out that we’re known for as well. We have a blog that you’ll see us post some of our research and findings on to and then we run an event every year called founders camp here in Chattanooga as well, to get a little bit of that in person stuff happening.

Adam Vazquez 12:44
Yeah, very cool. A few things just to touch on from that. I think, first of all, when you’re talking about the the trend line of moving out of the valley, moving out of New York City, whatever we should say that that wasn’t like a that was a talking point for you all because it’s authentic to who you are. Rightly, you all decided, yes, we’re going to do this in Chattanooga, yes, we’re going to do supply chain because you had unfair advantages there not just because of predicting a remote work trend. And the reason I point that out is I think that you were early to some of the content, things that you all have done in comparison to a lot of I mean, a lot of VCs have started podcast newsletters over the last 1836 months, you all were a year and a half, two years ahead of them, because of that different way of thinking, being in a different place having to get your voice out there. Would you say that’s fair? Like that was that’s probably part of your your evolution there?

Santosh Sankar 13:39
Yeah, I think you know, we, we all for some sense of the word have a chip on our shoulder, have visions may be bigger than what might be reasonable or rational if I can make that statement. And that requires us to be creative and use tools that might not be ordered in order to gain an advantage or gain an edge or solve a problem. And like equally and Adam, you’ve heard some of this, right? Like we’ve toyed with the idea like should we be starting a YouTube channel even though that’s not novel, there are VCs that do it should be on Tik Tok, which might not be my forte, but I know Rachel, who was kind of due to be a part of this series. She’s spent time with Dynamo like that’s something Rachel is awesome with. But

Adam Vazquez 14:27
I think her title herself given title is Chief meme Lord, a dynamo, which I really appreciate. Just as an aside

Santosh Sankar 14:33
if she’s the chief meme, Lord, I’m probably the squire of Jeff’s. If you’re if you’re sending in WhatsApp with me, I’m probably just sending you at Jeff and it’s like, what are you doing? doesn’t answer my question.

Adam Vazquez 14:45
But this is another another one another short video saint. What’s his name? Say Quan Barkley in the end zone. Santhosh. This is

Santosh Sankar 14:52
Yeah, yeah, that’s right. I mean, like I think it was like last night, one of our CTOs tweeted something about starting his quarterly Planning, I just sent him a nice sort of cute animation of a rabbit eating some carrots because I thought it was hot, more warming and, and equally everything did branded their business around has to do with rabbits. So, but content has been super important to us, Adam. And I think the the one thing that if we look back in history that successful people have done an improper like inner on politics that perhaps like tyrants have done. But equally those leaders who have really earned the trust and the support of their constituencies have done is how are you able to articulate a story? And how are you able to remind those around you and your constituents and your stakeholders of that story and the key points of that story, right. I think that’s important. And that’s important to continue to repeat. You can never be too old to repeat what you stand for your brand, your values, your principles, how you go about doing work. Right. Yeah. And then luckily, there’s a layer below that, that there’s opportunity if you do content the right way to show why you’re excellent or perhaps advantage in what you do, relative to competitors.

Adam Vazquez 16:21
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I think there’s two things there that are important that you just said, and the first one is you all are not thinking and you never have thought of the podcast as some way to tell a dynamo first perspective on the world or a, a here, look at us. This is why you should work with us. It’s always been really your end customer who who in this case, I think you would say is the startups right? Or your end your end consumer into some degree? Yeah,

Santosh Sankar 16:53
yeah, I think I can say at this point, increasingly, because there’s not a week that doesn’t go by where a couple founders don’t say, Love the podcast. Oh, this is what you look like. I’ve always heard you but I’ve never don’t yeah, look like it’s funny. And yeah, I would say like, it’s it’s startups, you see a lot of investors as well, when they want to spin up and get smart on an idea, queueing to podcasts, and then increasingly kind of corporates who just want to know, hey, like, what do I need to stay on top of, for myself to be competitive in my role, but equally, if I’m competitive viral, that means my organization is being competitive in order to drive outcomes, whatever those might be?

Adam Vazquez 17:38
Right, right. So all of your storytelling and all the things that you were just talking about repeating go back to that lens, right? Does it serve the these three audiences? Is it something that’s going to add value to them? I think that’s really important, because so much of the time, especially newer podcasts, or forget podcast, content, creation series, etc. Get caught in like what I want to say. And you know, like, venture capitalists are known for this right talk talking and philosophizing or whatever, just giving out their opinions. And what you’ve done is sort of flipped out on its head, and allow the target the customer to provide you with not only content but like real life insights on what they’re struggling with the trend lines, what’s coming out in terms of innovation, and then you’re able to share that in the form of your interview. So I think that’s really unique to the approach that you all have taken. One question I have for you is you’ve been doing now for several years, I went back just in preparation for our conversation was looking at some of the early episodes. Yeah. And the show has changed a lot like in just in good ways. It’s matured, it’s it’s advanced. We have I mean, this is an aside, but we have some new episode types coming soon, or probably they’re out at this point. So you’ve done a lot of evolving over the last several years, what would you say is the biggest lesson or or takeaway you’ve had? And I should know, now it’s probably once a month or once every other month? We’re getting you’re forwarding me a note or I’m getting a note that Oh, future supply chain has been included in Yeah, best of supply chain podcast top 20. So other people are taking note of something you’re doing right, what would you take away as one of those lessons?

Santosh Sankar 19:21
I think the the there’s a few things I don’t know if I can give it to you as one thing, but I think the most important thing, and we see this in our portfolio, when we talk about content marketing, raising awareness, is that this is a slow and steady long term game. Right? Content, the value of content on your business compounds, but it compounds on the back of consistency. If you’re not consistent, you do not compound the value that content can create. And I be just frankly, I was naive to it. I didn’t know And I remember calling okay, like I’m struggling with this, I’m certain of that. And what you have to do is you just, you have to grind through it. And you’re going to have some interviews that are better than others. You’re going to have some blog posts that are better than others, you’re going to write a lot of things that you will they’ll never see the light of day. And it’ll feel like it’s a waste of time, energy and effort equal, you’ll have podcast guests that flake on you, you might have PR groups that say, No, we can’t say that. And then you’re like, well, that’s like, the good part of the interview or half the interview. kibosh, that’s okay, you have to persevere. You have to move through that. Because ultimately, if you take this whole concept of content and content marketing as something that’s a quick game, that’s not what this says you won’t quit games go by Facebook ads, dude, like, it’s like, that’s not sustainable. This is something that’s sustainable, long term, and you can compound, your brand, your customer recognition, your value add in and around. And people should really understand that going in and embrace that when you’re in the moment.

Adam Vazquez 21:10
Yeah, it’s so hard. I mean, I, you mentioned all of those examples of when things can go wrong there. There’s times where we’ve recorded episodes that never saw the light of day because they just didn’t hit or didn’t. And that’s frustrating. It’s especially frustrating when there’s not enough. There’s not necessarily like we need to air an episode Friday, it’s Tuesday, we did it, we had a recording schedule, it just didn’t go stuff like that, that you have to work through. But I totally agree with you. I just tweeted this morning. You can you can fail in a week with a new content series. But you won’t know if it’s successful to your objective, in my opinion, for at least a year. Yeah, I think eight months is kind of like the start of you being able to look back and say, are we progressing where we want to, you know, head towards? Are we getting the benefit out of it that we want. And that’s a long time. That’s not it’s your point. If you’re looking for a direct response, it’s definitely not the channel for now. But as you build it, it’s now it’s now yours, it’s owned, it’s a foundation that you entirely get to appreciate the benefit from and Facebook can change their remarketing algorithm, Twitter can decide not to show new tweets, whatever. And it doesn’t really affect your conversation with your with your stakeholders.

Santosh Sankar 22:28
No, but But equally, right, like when you think about kind of organic social engagement, you actually have a piece of content that is its own channel to some degree when you think about podcasts, but also anything where podcasts and written and maybe there’s graphical content, video content that has double value. And you could argue that has triple value because as value today, but as value on multiplicity of channels. And then you might actually say as the world happens and stuff occurs, you can actually bring a lot of that content back. Right. And that’s where being kind of short sighted about and says only good for a week or if we don’t see results in a month. No, no. Right, like, do it for the long run. Yeah, that’s a great point in your action.

Adam Vazquez 23:22
Yeah, you all this is something that you uniquely uniquely do very well use, I think re airs more effectively than any other show we work with. When I talk about that it’s Santosh his audience is consistently growing thankfully, a year over a year, you’re getting bigger and bigger, a bigger platform, more awareness, more and more companies and entrepreneurs are being introduced to the future of supply chain. And so just organically, there are episodes, those people who are new have never heard right there. They’re two years old, but they’re still relevant pieces. They’re still the especially the way that you all talk in the style of your show. They’re still timely in nature, they just haven’t been exposed to them before. So bringing them back in as a second episode or a bonus episode, or whatever you do during a gap week, and introducing them to your new parts of your audience is something that a lot of people just don’t see the advantage. Don’t take the advantage of doing that because it takes a little bit of thought to do it. But But yeah, totally agree that the Evergreen nature of long form is something you can’t really buy or replace.

Santosh Sankar 24:28
Yeah, yeah. And as, as one stands these things up and can develop a routine or a process around it. The thing that I’ve come to find is you have to approach each conversation as much as it’s a show. If you can exercise genuine curiosity behind what your guest is a unfair expert in and around. That’ll kind of show up in how you’re out Preparing questions or topics you want to walk through being an active listener, right being kind of present, which I’m not the best at. But if I’ve done the right prep, and I’m present with the guests, I also like it just like a talk. And it’s almost like we’re friends. And we just happen to have this mic in front of us. Right? And ultimately, the audience benefits from that. Yeah. And I just had one this morning, just had one this morning with our CEO of our first unicorn investment. And it was just it. It was like butter. But it’s also I took the time on Sunday, 30 minutes, right. And I was like, what, what have they done? Where should I push? Where? Where will I know, there’ll be an openness to talk? And I was awesome. Yeah, it was awesome. And it’ll be

Adam Vazquez 25:48
hard to see. But that that’s what’s again, you’re putting in that effort. So many people show up, turn on the camera, turn on the recorder, whatever. And just kind of expect it to happen. You This is your so you’re saying this is a company you’ve invested in that you have on?

Santosh Sankar 26:02
Yeah, it was it was David at sender and sender earlier this year, bought Uber freight Europe subsequent to that they’re valued at a billion dollars, and where the seat one of the seed investors about three, four years ago, and it was just great to hear him tell the story. Right. But yet, to your point, right. It’s putting in the time being long term being consistent about it. But you have to have the right part. Yes. And we’ve had portfolio companies who I think get pieces of that. But then they’re like, oh, and then we’re gonna edit it ourselves. And we’re like, don’t go edit it yourself. You’re gonna spend the time and energy. It’s worth some of that incremental costs to get somebody who just all they do is edit. Yeah,

Adam Vazquez 26:47
audio. Obviously. I’m biased. Yes, is.

Santosh Sankar 26:50
But But But equally, it’s like, get somebody who also once a month sit down with you and say like, let’s talk strategy. Like, why are you going after those guests? You feel like you’ve stalled out on good guests. Have you really? Have you tried these tactics hold you accountable? Right, accountability is something that I think everybody could benefit from, and every part of your routine or your day or function could benefit from some additional accountability. And that’s sure there’s value in that. And I think we were a couple weeks ago, you guys kicked me in, you’re like, you’re, you’re running out of backlog? What are you doing? And I was oh, crap, like, I have run out of backlog is running around. And I was getting recurring schedule.

Adam Vazquez 27:37
Yeah, I think I something that I’ve seen. And it’s, it’s, it’s sort of that blessing and curse, right? Where the thing that makes so many startups, I’m sure you see it so successful is they can and they do figure out everything that’s in between them, and the whatever their stated goal is, so as a founder of that company, you might end up do writing code, you might end up doing customer support, you’re going to do sales, no doubt about it, etc. And so when it comes to things like a longer form, brand building exercise, the gut is I can do it, I’m gonna figure it out. And truth be known, they wouldn’t be able to figure it out, if they had the amount of time that someone else could spend the issue is, and you know, this content is so competitive, right? Every today, like we spend most of our time, most of our work time and most of our leisure time in front of a screen of some kind, or plugged into headphones of some kind. And so every brand, from venture capitalists, to retail to CPG, to b2b, to trucking to whatever has now decided, okay, we need to be there, we need to be present. And so if you as a founder, this is obviously again preaching to the choir, but are just trying to sort of half halfway do it or have it as a side project. You just can’t compete with someone who has decided to invest someone who, like us put in years of effort at this point, like your content is never going to reach those levels. And I think that that, to me is the biggest thing for someone who thinks like that is like, the the unfair bet is you’re going to put in time now. And there’s a good chance you fail, or you just pay and the upside is like massive success. So that that’s just something that I think individuals have to work through. Yeah, but what would you say to whether it be startups or not portfolio companies, other other companies that you come across? Let’s say that, let’s say they don’t have the last four years of backlog that you have on your show, and so they’re trying to decide how they can get their brand out today? What’s your what’s your advice to them? How are you giving them counsel when it comes to that?

Santosh Sankar 29:48
Yeah. So the thing you’ll hear me personally say when the syrup says, I think we’re ready to go engage A marketing agency or make our first marketing hire. I look at them, and I’ll say, so what are we going after? Who’s our audience? We’ll kind of go through the motions. And they’ll say, Okay, what’s the purpose of reaching to the reaching out to this audience? Right? So perhaps its customers. So you want to drive sales, maybe you want to start a blog about your culture, and how things are going in your company in general, because you want to get to prospect of employees, right? Or maybe want to create general awareness because you want investors, customers and employees to know who you are, what you’re up to. Right? So it’s understanding the audience and the reason, but then go to Okay, so why, why do you want to go to an agency or why do you want to make a marketing hire? And a lot of times, it’s simple, like, they’ll kind of just figure it out. It’s like, well, what if I told you like, simplistically, just go hire a copywriter? That’s just the first thing first step. You don’t you haven’t done anything. First stop copywriting. The second thing to be mindful of is where are you on the journey? Right? So are you so early that there’s not enough substance there to your story, to go actually meaningful, meaningfully start investment in and around marketing? Be it larger or smaller, right, still time and mindshare, that a founder needs to go allocate, even if it’s a copywriter practically writing copy around what you know, yeah. And oftentimes, what we lean towards is unless you’re a repeat founding team, which there’s usually a narrative there you can lean on and that’s to raise general awareness, heightened awareness, the prospect of employees and customers, is to actually like, go do some hand to hand combat in the trenches, get some customers, and let’s talk about how awesome your customers are. Because they’re your customers, right? And I think I forget who told me about I think it was like, it’s an age old Madison, that tactic on advertising, talk about your customers, and therefore you benefit. But that actually is really easy fodder? Because again, we’re there’s a copywriter. So do you do a case study, get the rights to a case study? Could you put that on your blog, maybe you start reaching out to outlets and blogs that your industry stakeholders read. And when I say stakeholders, it goes back to the audience, right? And start to push that through. That doesn’t take that doesn’t need an agency, it doesn’t need a CMO or director of marketing. It just requires you to spend a little bit of time with a copywriter and having something substantial to go say to the world. And yeah, and where we end up kind of taking that over time is okay, like, what are the pieces of content? And I think you said this, firstly, item that you can own, right, like, what is your own content? And we end up kind of strategizing around? What are repeatable, scalable things. So a lot of our portfolio might have data points that they’re privy to, because there is anonymized data going through their system number of API calls. But what do you have the nobody else has, but it’s very easy, where every month, you could almost post something about it, maybe have a content partnership with an industry trade publication. Or maybe at some point, you have enough customers. And with this data and insight, you go create a podcast. Yeah,

Adam Vazquez 33:34
right. Yeah,

it’s an evolution.

Adam Vazquez 33:37
It’s an evolution. But I love where you started, which is writing things down, essentially, what’s your what’s your advice, whether whether the founder does that, or I love the idea of hiring a copywriter because, first of all people i and it’s easy to forget, but all marketing begins all good marketing begins with a written story. I mean, that the art of writing is the most important asset to a marketing plan. Again, I’m biased. I’m not a designer, I My roots are in writing. So maybe there’s some some some argument to be had there. But writing and being able to craft a story, firstly is the most important thing in a marketing scheme. But the second thing is, when you get someone like you said to come in and simply document even if it is just literally documenting your thoughts in a cogent way, the value that that has is that when you do hire a marketing agency, you do bring in your first hire, they have something to manipulate, but they have they have bullets in the chamber to spend. And I’ll give you a perfect example. We have struggled for four years essentially, to really put together a comprehensive plan around our own content around our own marketing plan. Because when we come into a different company, they’re handing us the bullets right now where we know where to put them. We know how to fire the gun. They don’t know how to reload all these things, but They’re handing us the bullets, we’re helping craft the message and whatever, send it out. But when you have to actually sit down and say, what is our message? Why is that our message to your point? Who is our audience? What is the story we want to tell them? A lot of agencies struggles with this because it’s difficult to spend the time on your own work when you’re working on other clients, but is, as a founder as a startup, if you don’t have the answers to those questions, then people can come spend all the money that you have from your from your raise on ad campaigns, people can come set you up with the greatest technology and all this remarketing. And at the end of the day, you don’t own any of it a short, small algorithm change or at this point, policy change can completely make that irrelevant. And then you’re left there with less money and no real marketing prowess to show for it. So totally agree, I think that’s great advice.

Santosh Sankar 35:56
And a lot of the paid spend really is more effective. If you already have an organic content, strategy and capability, right? Because it ultimately can can sit on that foundation. And as you over the course of your business or course of a year, throttle it up, throttle it back, for whatever reasons, you still have a solid foundation. And that’s oftentimes lost on people where, again, wrestlers don’t just want to see sales, they don’t know how you get get the sales. And those that are getting it through content marketing, ultimately get the benefit of those are just saying, or just buy, we buy our leads, or we just spend money and revenue falls from the sky, just the margins, don’t stand up over

Adam Vazquez 36:48
time. Great. Well, Santosh, thank you so much for for joining us. I feel like we got into the mind of how a VC thinks about content. And maybe there is the startup or entrepreneur listening this is these are the types of questions that your potential investor is going to ask you these are this how they’re thinking about whether you might be a good investment or not. So super helpful advice from you. If people want to keep up with what you’re doing with the show or just some of the A you publish a ton of content was the best place for them to check all of that out.

Santosh Sankar 37:17
dynamo.vc you’ll see newsletter or blog or podcast, they’re equally follow us on Twitter. At this is dynamo, we have Rachel, who I mentioned before, who does an amazing job keeping everyone engaged. So check us out, feel free to shoot us an email equally as well.

Adam Vazquez 37:37
All right, man, appreciate it. Cheers. Alright, thanks so much Santosh, for for joining the show. And hopefully that was helpful to all of you who are listening, Carlton, what was that you you obviously heard the episode, what was one of the top takeaways for you and something that we can apply even for this show,

Carlton Riffel 37:52
thinking about the content that he produced over a long time having a compounding value, and even when it’s hard and not necessarily getting hung up on all those little bumps in the road as you’re making your content and just going going ahead and keep publishing and stay on schedule. And he’s really done that extremely well over the last few years. Even sometimes, when that means publishing a rear. I think that’s like a good method that he’s used to repurpose some of that content that was recorded maybe a year or two ago, but is still somewhat Evergreen. And so reusing your content and and really just sticking with that schedule so that it has that compounding interest over time. Yeah,

Adam Vazquez 38:36
I mean, he really is the perfect example of when we started that show. There was very few people listening to it. And he was totally fine with that. I mean, he was more interested in the conversations and the relationships developed through through the show itself then he was what size audience and I think that sort of blind having those blinders on. And that focus has allowed him to actually build a significant audience now where it’s a competitive advantage for them as a venture capital firm because they can tell their founders we have this audience in the niche that we can extend and use and leverage on your behalf so pretty cool to see that and yeah, again appreciate so much Santos you coming on the show. Okay, the wrap up this episode Carlton, we always tell people something that we’ve heard this week have that they need to be aware of. So what have you heard that you want to share with the folks

Carlton Riffel 39:27
so I’ve been a longtime audible subscriber, so it’s probably going on like eight or nine years, like I started listening to audiobooks and podcasts about the same time about 10 years ago. And the the thing with Audible is it is a paid subscription, but they give you a free book every month. Okay, so you’re pretty much just paying for a single book, which is that $15 mark for the subscription $15 a month so pretty early on, I realized like they also give you a discount on all the other books so it’s like a 10% or 15% discount and then the do these other things will toss in some books for like 499 or 399? Or they’ll show you different options that are more affordable. So at the beginning, which if I

Adam Vazquez 40:08
could just interject on that, yeah, they don’t necessarily highlight that, though, that that was, I didn’t know. Yeah. So like, if you have an audible subscription, you get 10% off, and you get all these deals Carlton is talking about, but because of the credit system, you’re not always aware of that. Okay, content.

Carlton Riffel 40:24
Yeah. So at the very beginning of this, the app that when you’d use the app, they would say you cannot purchase a book on this app, you have to go to their website to do that. And then it would add to your account. So those of you who have maybe used audible for a while might know this, but because of the in app purchase structure that Apple has, you can make purchases inside of an app without Apple getting 30% of that, that cut. So essentially, by Audible having this credit system they can get around where you can just make that that purchase of the credit because it’s not money. So you’re just essentially redeeming that credit that’s already in your account through the app. But when it comes to actually purchasing something, you wouldn’t see that it’s only $4. So if you’re using your $15 credit, to buy this $4 book, you’re wasting money. So essentially, what I would do is I would take the audible, like the shop, audible website and just save it on my homescreen like an app, and now it had the two next to each other. So I’d always shop in one. And when it came to a title that was only $10 or $4, or whatever, I would buy it without using my credit and and then only spend my credit on books that were above $15. Like if it was a 20 or $30 book, then it would make more sense. So that’s my

Adam Vazquez 41:39
while I’ve been very dumbly spending my money, who knows how many $4 books I’ve paid basically $20 For

Carlton Riffel 41:46
all your main titles are probably going to be you know, in that 15 to 20 hour mark. So Right. It’s it’s like the lesser known things and like the odd weird books that I’ll I’ll download and listen to, but I will say great. Like, as my podcast listening has gone up my audible, audible listening has gone down, I think I’ve got like two credits in the bank right

Adam Vazquez 42:05
now. That’s interesting. I think mine is the inverse. I mean, those are probably the same levers. But I’ve my podcast listening, my podcast, listening has gone down. And I’ve pretty much always listening to somewhere along the journey of listening to a book might have you heard is a little different. So this week, I got a little bit infatuated by a Twitter thread that I saw by a venture capitalist named Samuel Thompson is is at I’m Sam Thompson, CEO of proven VC. And he over the weekend, built a product in 24 hours and kind of captured his his journey doing so. And I just thought this is fascinating, because all of the things that he did, he’s not technical, so so all the things that he did were things that I could figure out how to do. And so tried it and put out my own version. Now mine is not nearly as good as his are, what did he build. He built an online counselor, basically, that you can text. So if you don’t want to go to a full psychiatrist or or counselor, you can text this, I think it was called Casey and casey.io and have a conversation with basically a counselee friend. So it’s not a full and

Carlton Riffel 43:16
he says like a counselor API or something. No,

Adam Vazquez 43:20
he’s he that that’s what I was the trigger that actually like pushed me to do it is yeah, it was pretty manual. Once you got past the front front end, you’re like setting it up in a day. Yeah, you’re setting it up in a day and making like sort of validating whether or not there’s interest. And then you can always figure out if you need to scale and automate in the future. And I was like, Why have Why wouldn’t I do that? So I did the same thing. Really interesting exercise. I just felt like it was good to test and like learn new skills and do all of that. And it was fun. I mean, it was something fun to push out. So I challenge anybody who’s listening check, check out his tweet thread. I will put it in the show notes and maybe try to try your hand at building something over a day or a couple of days and see what you can come up with.

Carlton Riffel 44:05
There we go. Love it. Cool.

Adam Vazquez 44:07
Well, another great episode again, thank you to Santosh and thank you to all of you who are listening. We’ll be back next week with a new episode with Maribel Lera from the Sasha group and until then, we will see you next time. Peace