Soundspace empowers creatives by connecting a network of affordable, professional spaces for reliable access. As a Founder and Chief Growth Officer at Soundspace, Kai McGinnis is a “growth guy” through and through. Mike is also a founder and the Chief Creative Officer at Soundspace. He’s an entrepreneur, consultant and co-author of the book the Priority Sale. Today, Sherry Peak sits down with Kai and Mike to talk about Soundspace, marketing, overcoming the challenges of a startup, and much more.
The following podcast is intended for listeners who are intent on growing the business. Welcome to Innovate Marketing where we are bringing you interviews with those that are making waves in the world of #marketing, #branding, and business growth. We are brought to you by MyPodcast.Media. If you're wondering how podcasting can help you unleash your marketing strategy, visit https://mypodcast.media . And now, I'd like to introduce you to your host for Innovate Marketing, Sherry Peak.
Sherry Peak (host) 00:41
Welcome to Innovate Marketing. Today, we have not one guest, but we have two. The first is Kai McGinnis, and he is the founder and Chief Growth Officer of Soundspace. And we also have Mike Rendel, and he is the Chief Creative Officer of Soundspace.
As a Founder and Chief Growth Officer, Kai McGinnis is a growth guy through and through, and he enjoys helping others find alignment in life and in their business. Mike Rendel is also a Founder and the Chief Creative Officer at Soundspace. With a deep background in sales and neural marketing, Mike's a maximizer, who leads creatives to bring big ideas into the real world. He's an entrepreneur, consultant, and co author of the book, the Priority S ale.
Sherry Peak (host) 01:33
Welcome, gentlemen to the show.
KAI MCGINNIS 01:34
Thanks so much for having us. Sherry. Really glad to be here.
MIKE RENDEL 01:37
Thanks, Sherry, What's up, y'all?
Sherry Peak (host) 01:38
You are welcome. We're glad to have a chance to speak with you today, as I'm very interested in the work that you do. And we're gonna get right into it so we can let our listeners know what this wonderful service is that you're offering to others. So to start off, starting with Kai and then we'll have Mike speak, can you tell me a little bit about yourselves and how it relates to the work that you're doing today?
KAI MCGINNIS 02:00
Certainly. So yeah, my name is Kai. I'm one of the founders of Soundspace. And I ventured out to Indianapolis almost a decade ago to actually pursue soccer and my university degree, and I met our #CEO and original "guy with the idea on a sheet of paper," Ricky Anderson, right as I was wrapping up school. And we sat down and we talked about this idea of effectively, music gyms. And how there weren't any and #musicians and #creatives struggle for reliable, affordable access to pro spaces. And I, as an athlete and creative both myself, could very much get down with that concept. And we sat out on a mission to, you know, envision a world where those spaces were, were and are accessible for all types of creatives, and really have been on that path ever since here over the past few years. So that's, that's my quick journey up to now.
MIKE RENDEL 03:06
Yeah, for me, I've spent the better part of a couple plus decades in the ad world, in the agency world. I ran a consultancy for #sales and marketing, and did that with the same group of people for 17 years. And ultimately decided that I was ready to put my energy into new endeavors and wanted to get back to being... I've told myself, be the artist, not the business. So bringing me back here and focusing on helping creatives achieve their goals and get the resources that they need is just about the best kickstart / re-kickstart to career I could ever ask for.
Sherry Peak (host) 03:49
Well, Mike, I love new endeavors. And that's exactly what we're going to talk about as we move a little bit more into talking about Soundspace. So can either one of you tell me a little bit more about Soundspace? What is it? How does it work? What's going on with Soundspace?
KAI MCGINNIS 04:03
So where we're at with Soundspace is- we really set out to, you know, solve common problems for the common creative. And there are a multitude of issues that come up against the studio owners and business owners and folks that have space in terms of getting, you know, people in the space that are meant to be using it and are and are well qualified to do so. And then the artists, right, you're creating and you're constantly needing those resources to jumpstart your own career, to get to the next level, to create the quality of work that you want to create. And what we've done is we initially opened our first brick and mortar, "music gym" and set it up to be a 24/7 self-serve facility where folks can pay a membership and come and be a part have that community and have access to that community space as much as they want throughout the month. And what we realized through that process was, this solution solves a problem for creatives that are everywhere, in every city and in every community. So how could we solve that problem at scale for our people that are everywhere. And the answer to that wasn't necessarily swinging hammers and building rooms for the next 60 years when there are a lot of spaces that are already existing, much like the one we're sitting in today, that are here and begging for creative expression to come through them. So we marry those things together on a membership network of having access to those creative spaces. So if I'm a creative or a musician that is looking for #rehearsal, or recording, or #podcasting space, or space to make my content, when they come to the Soundspace app / Soundspace network, that they are experiencing an opportunity to go to a creative space that's best suited for them at whatever level they're at and whatever type of creative they are. So our mission is to stitch that network together and connect those artists and those communities and really drive all that great work that's already happening.
Sherry Peak (host) 06:23
Did you find there were a lot of creatives out there that were looking for something like this? Because I can just imagine, you know, when I think about things that I've done, the barriers and not just finding a place to do it or the equipment to do it, but then also having someone helped me coordinate that when I might not necessarily know what all needed to go into that.
MIKE RENDEL 06:42
Yeah, no question. What's interesting about this is, there are a lot of different stages to being a creative and it's never been easier, especially in the world of music, to create content at home. To write songs to produce songs, etc. But there's still this gap between that and coming into the world of professional studio musicianship. And the same is true, really, for every other step of any kind of creative endeavor you're in, right. But there is a fundamentally flawed system in terms of getting space to rehearse, record, or create right now. And that is that everything is based on an hour-by-hour purchase. And what ends up happening is, there are a lot of spaces that book time but have lots of hours in the day that they're that their space goes completely unused. Meanwhile, studio space, especially for rehearsal or if you want to do any kind of longer form recording over a period of time, is really cost prohibitive. So if we've got somebody you know, on average, a studio is about 50 bucks an hour to lock down and usually they've got about a four hour minimum that you've got to block. So you've got $200 bucks right there for four hours when we can give somebody a membership with all access for a month for the same price. So subscription is really our model. And it's what allows a lot more people to access a single space and to utilize that space in a way that that business can actually make money off of it.
Sherry Peak (host) 08:19
I like that subscription model.
MIKE RENDEL 08:21
Yeah, it's really a game changer, and frankly it's what the music industry, the recording industry specifically, really needs. What's exciting is that that model can be applied to a lot of other things. Not just a rehearsal room or a studio room, we're looking at Creative flex spaces, and all kinds of different things to give these artists the tools in the space that they need to create.
Sherry Peak (host) 08:46
So can you tell me a little bit about the model for Soundspace? Is it in the business of providing business space for others?
KAI MCGINNIS 08:53
Yeah, that's a great question. So as I mentioned, our initial test model was to provide a space ourselves for our community and to test that model and see if there was a product market fit. A question you asked earlier, right, was "did you find there was a need for this type of thing from the artists?" That was where we started. We asked hundreds of artists in our community, in any method we could think of, to just understand what the commonality of problems encountered and what the truths behind those were. And in growing that vision of how we serve those artists, it has expanded to the understanding there are plenty of other creative businesses and there are people that are in these industries that have these spaces designated for creatives. But their business model is different- is on an older modality of the ways that, you know, an antiquated music industry, for example, used to operate or just you know, a standard office rental package. So things haven't been redesigned in a way that benefits all sides of that economy. And what we aim to do is really just solve those problems on both sides of the business. You have a space that is meant for people to come and create. You didn't get into owning a recording studio, for example, because you wanted to run a small business and do the administrative work. We have a staff support system in place where we can offer 24/7 customer support for these folks and we can handle all of your booking and billing and we can integrate with your calendar and send you the creatives that want to use your space. And for the creatives, we can standardize that point of access, and we can offer them an opportunity to just cut through all of that. Like the process of even that Mike mentioned of finding a studio and booking four hours, you probably made several phone calls, found places with $500, non-refundable deposits and all these sorts of things where you might trial and error two or three times and be a couple $1,000 in the hole before you get any tangible outcome and deliverable of your art. So we offered to streamline that process and connect those spaces. And those would be creatives, creatives that are but allow them more space to actually drive their career forward.
Sherry Peak (host) 11:12
Now, I want to talk about your team because I'm just listening to the work that you do with Soundspace. What does it take to accomplish this work? Can you talk a little bit about your team and your specific role or some other roles are very important to the work that Soundspace creates?
MIKE RENDEL 11:28
The short answer is what our team does changes almost on the daily. We have to be very flexible, very nimble. We're in a space where we're going through our first round of #funding. We are absolutely on a rocket ship and scaling. So right now we're very nimble, very flexible. So how do we do that? And and what does that actually look like? About six months ago, we switched over to running the #EOS Model. And we have a team of - a leadership team -that splits the organization into four very specific stacks, that we call them. One is Revenue. One is Operations. One is Finance. And then we've created a separate stack for Marketing, right now. So in doing that, what we do is compartmentalize the work that needs to be done and get the right people focusing on the right priorities. But that's really just speaking to the structure. The people that work here are everyday creatives. Some of us are musicians, some of us have design backgrounds, some of us have operations backgrounds, and some of us have things like PR and Marketing backgrounds. Our core team of leadership is really a wild group of four people; I've never really seen a group of people so kind of dynamic that can get along the way that we are. Our team is really unique in that we have four people coming from very unique places. Kai in our Growth role is just relentlessly pursuing new opportunities out there networking, meeting people. And that's really at the core of who he is. He makes connections on an energetic level with people and creates new opportunities for us, whether those be studios or artists or new partners out in the industry, et cetera. Aaron is our operations master and our integrator in terms of the EOS Model. And he leads the day-to-day operation and leads the people that do everything from designing software to running our security systems to ensuring that the member experience is what we want it to be. Then Ricky, our CEO and original Founder is, I mean, frankly, one of the smartest people that I've ever known and, just incredibly intelligent. He is a stats guy. He is a finance guy. He is an R&D guy. But the root of all of this is really the scientific approach to business that is all driven by data. And that's Ricky all day long. I came to the team the,n like I said, six months ago, and round out this band of misfits with a little bit more experience. I'm a bit older than these guys. And I've been doing it for a bit longer. So I've got a few more reps in than they do. But I also come in with a whole different perspective of just creative and creating big things, big projects. And my goal is really to help find the stories and lift up the artists that are in Soundspace and members in the work that they're doing. I'm obviously marketing and producing new leads and all of those things that we have to do. So that's kind of a quick, very in-depth view. But day to day, a lot of what we're doing is designing systems and attacking issues, whatever those issues are. Are we trying to get new new revenue in the door or are we trying to reduce our churn? Are we trying to make it easier for people to know how to come in and plug in and play? Whatever it may be, EOS is at the core of of what we're doing. And it's been phenomenal.
Sherry Peak (host) 15:10
Earlier we talked about the interest from the creatives with Soundspace, so I want to focus a little bit more on the studios. How have studios been responding to the concept?
KAI MCGINNIS 15:19
Yes, Sherry, that's a great question. I think as we've learned and gone through our process, and like Mike mentioned, relentlessly building systems to be able to support that infrastructure, we find that they've responded really well the more we're able to meet them on their terms. And when I say their terms, just understanding that we can integrate with whatever calendar you have. We can help advise with your security. We can answer questions about, you know, any concerns you have about that of heavy usage, like what's going to happen if my gear gets used all the time? Better things than if it's never used. The, really, opportunity for studios to maximize their off hours to relieve the stress of administrating and booking and to ultimately, you know, for them to have an opportunity to have more consistent revenue. They know that X amount of people and X amount of members of Soundspace are going to come through their doors for a certain amount of hours, right, every month. And they know that that is getting paid out, right, from us. They're not relying on #Venmo transactions to clear and things of that nature. Like, we're just really streamlining that admin process for them, and delivering, you know, creatives that are hungry to come in and get to work.
MIKE RENDEL 16:34
These businesses have a really interesting challenge. Everybody knows that being a small business is just hard as hell. And fact of the matter is, most people that open a studio business are not doing it to become moguls; they just aren't. They're doing it to offset their own habit. They want their own gear, they want to record themselves, and they want to be an artist themselves through their engineering and technical skills. And they're in this conundrum that they can't really do anything to grow their revenue. They can market, but they're not great at it because they don't have experience. And once they get to a point where they, you know, they only have so many hours in the day that they can sell, they get to a point where the only thing that they can do is spend more money to open more space, which only compounds their problem that most of their time, all their rooms, and all the equipment in those rooms, is sitting on underutilized. Just sitting there. It still cost money while it sits there, but nobody's using it. So this flip of the script really just, I mean, it doubles their capacity if they're willing to go 24 hours a day. It doubles their lead generation if they're willing to go with subscriptions, etc. So the people that we've connected with, it has been a no brainer for them. I mean, it's not even a question. It's like, finally, I understand how to do this. For those that are or have been in the industry longer, it's a bit of a challenge to switch their headspace on how to do this. But once they see it, it's the way of the future without being trite about it.
KAI MCGINNIS 18:12
Yeah, at this point, we've seen that reception from home studios from mid-level like, you know, mid major city level studio, all the way up to multimillion dollar facilities that we can't just yet talk about. But they get it, they understand it. And even the folks that are in the industry that maybe it's not even necessarily about, you know, flipping their script, there are certain folks that have walked in from label groups or from publishing companies and they go, "man, if I'd had this 15 years ago, I might not be the one behind the desk." And that sort of- they get it. They get why it solves needs, even if you're someone that's "beyond that level" and you can afford whatever access. you remember those days where you couldn't. And so even for that 1% of the industry, they understand where, at some point along someone's creative path along any one's creative path, it would have benefited 100% of those people.
Sherry Peak (host) 19:17
Earlier, when we were talking or you were talking, the word "funding" came up. And that just kind of put me in the mindset of what it takes to grow and scale a business. On that same note, what has the experience been with pitching to venture capitalists been like?
KAI MCGINNIS 19:32
So I'll take this question out of the two of us. Ricky admittedly does more of the Venture Fundraising direct, but I'm interacting with a lot of those folks out in the field and kind of initial points of contact and (the) first couple meetings and quite a few opportunities. So when it comes to that venture scale, you know, we, especially in the current climate, are being really more mindful than ever. We are always mindful. We're a very revenue-focused company. Our goal is like, we do not believe the solution is just pour more money on it and it will fix itself. So we are, you know, charting a path toward very sustainable profitability that allows us to make the key decisions and hires and things that we need to as we grow this system of scale. Our core team is very, very, very good, but there are a few other folks that we're going to need to fold in into the right seats that are going to have an immense impact on our ability to continue this journey as we keep flying this spaceship upward. So from the funding side, where we are currently fundraising, you know, a round of 600k on a safe note, that is our Pre-seed terms. And basically, the last round, you know, of "like, this is the best deal you're ever going to get before this really shifts." And even at the end of this quarter, you know, we are on track to achieve and hit 5x growth in a quarter. So we have spent the fall and into the first part of this year building the systems that it takes to achieve that level of scalability. Breaking them, building them again. And getting to a point where, you know, if we take 10, or 100, or 1000 clients, is it, you know, is this process really going to be different? Obviously, right, you know, we will continue to multiply our efforts as that grows. But I think what it takes is ultimately strategic, sustainable, just tenacity to understand this is where we're going. This is the amount of mission that we intend to serve. And this is the progress we're going to make and understanding how to do that without redlining, our people. And our bank accounts are super important and things that I think, you know, often get left behind sometimes if you get too "pie in the sky." So we take a very data driven approach to that. And we just want to be in a position where we have the autonomy to make the decision that we think is best in every scenario to keep growing our game board and helping more creatives.
Sherry Peak (host) 22:03
So thinking about that 5x growth, that's amazing! I know, it takes a great team, like you said earlier, you've got a team that's crushing it. And it definitely sounds like that's what's happening. So from my public-facing perspective, what's been the marketing message that has been most effective for your business,
MIKE RENDEL 22:20
The most effective is that we've been focusing on really is just at the core of our value system. And that's that we're trying to help people find affordable, reliable, and professional services. So that's really the core foundation of everything that we say. You know, the audience that we're really speaking to, at least on the membership side of things, is who we refer to as the Creative Middle Class. So we know who we're talking to, we know what the problem is, and the job for us to do is just to get that message in front of, you know, as many people as possible and be smart about where we go, what markets we go into to ensure there's real demand there. And that the demand is what we serve, Every city is a little bit different. Some cities need more rehearsal resources than they do studio resources. Nashville is a great example of that. Nashville doesn't need another recording space. But Nashville needs a bunch of rehearsal spaces. So depending on where we're at, we talk about different things, but it's all about pain resolution. Everything that we do is is focused on that. How do we make it easier? How do we connect you to new opportunities. So that's a lot of my background, too, is just in brain friendly, and an easy to understand and consume messages. So talking about those things that really just address what they are up against is what our message will always be about.
Sherry Peak (host) 23:45
Now, what has been some of the marketing challenges you've may have encountered?
MIKE RENDEL 23:49
Finding the audience where they're at, and not assuming anything. And I think anybody in the game right now will tell you the same thing. You got to test test, test, test test. Always be iterative. Right now, what I can tell you, I mean, candidly, our biggest challenge is keeping up with the amount of content we have to create, and figuring out how to scale that part of the business and work smarter, not harder. And we're going to do that and are doing that by utilizing the stories of the of the art and the people that make it within our walls. And really we know that if we propagate that, that we're going to find the people that are like us and who we want. But that's been a big challenge. Any other marketer will tell you also that paid advertising is - seems to be - a fickle beast and changes just about every day. But when you stay after it and you have teams that are empowered to do it and get after it, then they'll find them. So that's been, you know, we're trying to find our formula that we can take to any market and turn the right dials and get the right contacts and turn them in to the right way. leads and turn them into the right members.
Sherry Peak (host) 25:02
I have another question about events that, around the Podcast Mixer. So how have the events like the Podcast Mixer been for introducing the podcast community to Soundspace?
KAI MCGINNIS 25:15
Yes, certainly. I think the the two event types that have offered the most opportunity for folks to fold into the community organically are our mixers and our open mics. So within Soundspace, and quite a few of our partner locations as well, are folks in the communities that are hosting recurring open mics that are generally all ages, all genres, all types of creative and opening those up. And the other side are those mixers. So we've done music mixers and podcast specific mixers. We'll have a, later this spring, an all-creatives mixer that should be our biggest one yet. Bringing those folks together and just allowing a semi-structured sort of networking opportunity where they have some freedom to mingle as they like, but they also have some guidance and some encouragement to come meet some other creatives in the community. So really organic opportunities to come together. And if you're looking for a specific, you know, you need an engineer, or you need some new guests, or you are just looking to come and learn about the awesome things some other folks in your community are doing, they're a great opportunity to come out and connect.
MIKE RENDEL 26:27
Community right now, I think is, as we've all moved into our work-from-home stations and our isolated life. These kinds of community events, I think are more important than ever.
Sherry Peak (host) 26:40
Well, the space you're in today looks very podcast-ish, if you will. I'll just kind of go with Mike's "ish" at the end of there. And you both sound really great today. I want you to just share a little bit about the studio that you're in today. Because it looks very nice. You sound great. Just in case somebody in the area might be interested in checking it out.
KAI MCGINNIS 26:59
Yeah, of course. So we're down here at Lightbound Podcast Studios. Lightbound Studios here at 525 South Meridian (Indianapolis, IN) which is in a really unique building, the Union Campus here. I'm looking out at a coffee shop with brightly colored furniture and some incredible artwork, a lovely courtyard. And there's even a basketball court. There's some slides here. So I am the biggest proponent of, this is like a little tucked away playground that you can come create and be a part of this space. We offer memberships to this. And this is a 24/7 access plug-and-record type of podcast or creative studio. And it is really one of the coolest things. Every time I get to walk back in here - I'm on the road a lot. So coming back in it's it's very surreal. I walk into the space often and I go, "Dang, I forgot how cool this is. This is just here all the time." So yeah, Lightbound Studios. And you can find all of these this at any of our other locations at soundspace.co
MIKE RENDEL 28:05
So Sherry, all of our spaces, whether they're rehearsal rooms, studio, or a podcast space like this, or creative space, come with standard equipment.
Sherry Peak (host) 28:16
It is very powerful. Very interesting. So as we wrap up our time together, I like for both of you to kind of share your final thoughts with our listening audience.
MIKE RENDEL 28:25
There's more opportunity than ever to create. Find your community. And don't get stuck out there thinking that there aren't resources available for you. They're coming; we're working hard at it. And there are others out there who are doing what you're doing. And if I've learned anything from the people that I've watched working here, it's that you're not in competition with other artists at this point. You are - the world of creatives are here to lift each other up.
KAI MCGINNIS 28:56
Not too dissimilar, I would say my parting thoughts and what I'd want to share is just, you know, this is all been born out of an idea on a sheet of paper where we came together and wanted to solve a problem that we were all experiencing. And in that spirit of collaborative problem-solving, if you are a creative, a business owner, a connector, or a provider of any sort in your community and you think you have a problem that could be addressed with this around you or you have a solution, please reach out to us and we will do whatever we can to fold that in and to provide that for our community.
Sherry Peak (host) 29:39
Again, how can our listeners reach out to you beyond our time together here today,
KAI MCGINNIS 29:43
You can reach out to either of us directly at Kai or Mike at soundbase.co
MIKE RENDEL 29:48
You can also find us on all the typical social places. Check us out at Soundspace.co to find a space near you. And you know outside of that just look for the little diamond wherever you see sound. Hear sound... Cut that part out. (laughter)
Sherry Peak (host) 30:06
KAI MCGINNIS 30:10
Sherry Peak (host) 30:11
Yes, absolutely. And I like to thank you, Kai and you, Mike, for taking time out of your schedules to join our show today and share all of this wonderful information about Soundspace. We really appreciate it.
KAI MCGINNIS 30:22
Sherry, thank you so much.
MIKE RENDEL 30:24
Sherry, this has been fun. I hope we gave you something to use.
Sherry Peak (host) 30:35
My takeaways from today are- don't be the artist, be the business. The world of creatives are here to lift each other up. Find your community. And to choose a team that will help you crush it. Friends, that's all we have for you today. And until next time, be great and stay safe.
That brings us to the close of this edition of innovative Marketing. We're glad you tuned in. Innovate Marketing is brought to you by MyPodcast.Media. MyPodcast.Media produces podcasts for brands, influencers, and nonprofits. Find us online at https://mypodcast.media . Your producer for innovative marketing is Beth Fried. Executive producer Shawn Neal and your host is Sherry Peak. We'll see you next time. Be sure to tune in...