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Season 4 - Episode 8:

Do Good, Make Money: Podcasting with JJ Ramberg

Do Good, Make Money: Podcasting with JJ Ramberg

Episode Summary

As an entrepreneur, JJ Ramberg has been on both sides of the coin. She spent 13 years hosting MSNBC’s Your Business, telling small-business stories and offering tons of real-life advice; she’s also launched her own tech businesses at the same time. She’s now the co-founder of three start-ups, including GoodPods, a social media app for podcasts and their listeners. We talk to her about building tech companies, family dynamics, and working for a good cause.

Episode Notes

If you’ve ever started your exercise time by standing there for 20 minutes choosing a podcast, know that you are not alone. You are in the company of JJ Ramberg, who launched GoodPods to help curb that endless search for great podcasts by tapping into what your friends and favourite influencers are already listening to. “It’s like Goodreads for podcasts,” she explains, channelling the energy of the popular book recommendation site. 

Before launching GoodPods, JJ—who was already a podcaster herself, with Been There, Built That—talked to more than 700 people about their experiences with podcasts. Those folks ranged from established producers and hosts to the casual listeners who tuned in a few times a month. At the end of those conversations, she had a wealth of knowledge and used it to release something special. “We launched a product that people liked. These were people who really enjoyed the app and realized that there was nothing else out there like it.”

JJ’s focus has long been on products that improve your life, but also give back. GoodShop, another project of hers, combines coupon codes for more than 7000 popular retailers with a chance to donate the difference to national and international charities (they’ve raised over $70K for the ASPCA alone). And SearchKibble’s mission is to feed pets living in shelters—each search on the site is worth two bites of kibble. JJ startedSearchKibble in large part because of the COVID-19 pandemic, when shelters saw a serious dip in donations. “It’s a way for people to do good while they’re doing what they’re already doing, which is search the internet.”

Her early days hosting Your Business made her a trailblazer in the small-business world. “Back then, there was nothing else like it. There was no Shark Tank.” She helped bring  stories of entrepreneurship into people’s living rooms and shared the good, the bad, and the ugly with viewers. “I was hosting the show at the same time that I was building my other company, and I was as much the audience as I was the host.” Over the years, she saw patterns of successes and missteps.

Which leads us to failure, an entrepreneur’s biggest worry. “The number-one thing that successful people can do is deal with failure.” She tells us the story of a soapmaker who saw half his business disappear overnight, and how he dealt with it. We know that failure, by itself, is not fun; it’s the moving-forward process that brings in the learning. 

Speaking of learning, JJ’s entrepreneurial education has taken some unexpected swerves. Sure, she’s a Stanford MBA graduate, but she’s also learned a lot from her family, many of whom started and grew businesses of their own. Her mother was a special inspiration: she capped a long stint of staying home by launching her own successful business with JJ’s brother in her 40s. “I watched, firsthand, how incredibly fun it could be.” JJ has since taken up the mantle, and partnered with her brother on both of her companies. “It seemed natural, when we had this idea, to try it.” Their previous experience dovetailed and diverged in interesting ways: she knows the media and marketing side, and he brings the tech expertise.. She says the fact that they care deeply about each other’s lives—outside and inside the business—”makes it all work for us.”

JJ is now passing on her entrepreneurial spirit to the next generation with her children’s book The Start-Up Club. She likes the idea of familiarizing her kids with the language and ups and downs of the business world. “They can see sometimes things work brilliantly, and sometimes things do not work as you’d planned them to be.” She wants to see them experiment, try new things, and yes, fail, with her same fearless approach. 

Resources

To learn more about our guest, go to https://www.goodpods.com/

To learn more about FreshBooks and take advantage of an offer exclusive to our podcast listeners, go to freshbooks.com/podcast 

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