Product Interview - Bradley Davis @ Podchaser
This is an archived post from 2020 which was posted on my previous blog, Product Distilled. It was a project in which Chris Davis and I interviewed local product leaders in the Louisville, KY area. Check out all the posts and let me know if you'd like to see more.
Bradley Davis is the CEO and Founder of Podchaser, a technology startup in Louisville, KY. Podchaser is a social podcast directory, think “IMDb for podcasts.” We provide a space for podcast fans and creators to contribute ratings, reviews, credits and more to aid discovery.
Tell us a little about yourself outside of work!
I like trashy reality TV, cycling as of two days ago and hot wings.
How would you describe your role within your company's product organization?
Ultimately, I view my job as finding people smarter than me to execute important initiatives. For product specifically, I try to make sure it’s going in a general direction that matches our business goals.
What are you working on right now that’s exciting to you?
Now that we’ve completed our recent seed round, it’s really exciting to be able to make some key hires and watch Podchaser scale quickly.
What is the most important part of your day?
I cherish 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. the most. I try to shut my brain off, process my day and “veg.”
What drains you at work?
I genuinely love waking up every morning and working on Podchaser. I do dread the minutiae behind things like paperwork, legal matters, accounting, etc.
Work & Product
Do you have a daily routine to stay organized or perform better at your job?
I use Keep, Any.do, Trello and Slack to try to keep things in order. Every day is a bit different, so it’s difficult to establish a routine that is efficient. I’ve also found that over-organizing and planning can slow down progress toward an overall goal. For that reason, I try to make it a point to block out time each week with no scheduled calls/meetings to allow for some creativity.
How do you go about gathering customer feedback?
We have a very active Twitter account (@Podchaser) with open Direct Messages, suggestions are taken via email often, and also have several hundred people in a community Slack channel. In our early days, feedback from Reddit was integral in our success. When you make a group of supporters happy, they cling on to your product and proselytize for your product.
How do you make user feedback actionable?
One specific example is our integrations page (podchaser.com/integrations). We let users vote for integrations they want the most and can use this to inform our roadmap. We also use Amplitude (they have a great startup program) and Google Analytics to meticulously track how our users interact with our site, so we can react to their behavior.
What is something you've done recently with your product that was a huge hit with users?
For a major product release, one recent thing that did well was allowing podcasters to reply to reviews on their show. Podcast reviews were always a one-way behavior, and we wanted to allow podcasters to give quick feedback/gratitude that was once only possible on the air.
For a minor “tweak,” we updated the social image thumbnails on some of our more shareable links. This encouraged our users to create more content on our site and share it more often as well.
What advice would you have for someone who is hoping to grow in their product-focused role?
I would encourage someone in a product role to stay organized, iterate, listen to customer feedback but not be reactive to it, and use data to back up product initiatives but not necessarily inform it. If we used purely data to inform our product, our site would be one giant play button (one of our most-used buttons). We want our users to interact in other ways, so we make playing easy but can put other actions near a play button to encourage other actions.
What’s a lesson that you learned the hard way, but would never take back?
Outsourcing development work was a huge mistake for us organizationally. Hiring internally may take longer but has saved us time and money in the long run. I would absolutely take that decision and the money spent back.
What is one piece of advice that had a big impact on your life?
My uncle always told me “eagles may soar, but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines.” Not entirely sure what that means, but I think about it a lot.
If you could wave a magic wand and fix something about one of your favorite products, what would it be?
All washers and dryers should be one machine or at the very least have a transfer system.
What is one product or company being built in in your region that you think more people should know about (other than your own)?
The Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute at the University of Louisville is incredible, and more people should learn about their research.
What is a book, podcast, or website that you think more people should know about?
Richard’s Famous Food Podcast
What would you do with your time if money was no issue?
I’d probably play video games and wallow away into nothingness.