Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed entrepreneur and podcaster Mike Rosenbaum about his career, what motivates him, and the work that goes into producing his podcast, Founders On Air.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I’m Mike Rosenbaum and I’m a serial entrepreneur, self-confessed tech nerd and founder of parking marketplace, Spacer. I’m passionate about the sharing economy and a genuine believer that by leveraging the power of technology, we can help people access underutilised assets that sit idle all around us in our community. I’m also a co-founder of the Sharing Hub, Australia’s first incubator specifically for sharing economy businesses. When I’m not busy working, I love music and I’m learning to play the guitar. I also have two kids (and a brand new puppy) who keep me very busy!
How and why did you start podcasting?
Myself and my co-host, Steve Orenstein, CEO and Founder of Zoom2U, had been talking about making a podcast for quite some time. We both really enjoy listening to podcasts and thought that there was a lot that we could share from our combined 40+ years of business experience that might help budding entrepreneurs. One day in mid-2019 we decided to bite the bullet and get started. We recorded our first episode with just the two of us, and then began inviting guests from our network – fellow founders to share their story and tips on how to get a business to scale.
What is your current podcast called, and how did you come up with the name?
Our podcast is called Founders on Air, and the name was really born out of the podcast’s mission. We knew the people we were trying to reach – other founders or those interested in starting a company – and we thought the name had a nice ring to it. As a teen, I used to love listening to Stan Zemanek, one of the best talkback radio hosts in Australia, and when we’re recording an episode in front of those giant microphones it’s easy to feel like a radio host. In fact, Steve and I always used to joke about it being our ‘radio show’ and so the ‘on Air’ just felt right to us.
What platforms can we find Founders On Air on?
You can find it on Spotify, Apple Music and Youtube.
What is Founders On Air about?
It is focused on deep diving into the different interests or topics that would be helpful for those at the early stages of growing a company to know. Each episode we invite a new guest, who is also a Founder of a company, and get to know more about their journey and how their business came to be successful. We’ve interview guests from Gabby Leibovich – founder of Scoopon, Eatnow and Catch, to Tim Fung – CEO of Airtasker. In each interview, we try to especially dive into one topic that that entrepreneur may be really knowledgeable about, or something that they’ve experienced personally that had a big impact on their business. This has included everything from how to properly utilise influencers in your marketing strategy, to what to know before listing publicly on the stock market and how this changes your business model.
Do you host Founders On Air alone, or have guest hosts/partners?
I’m lucky to have a wonderful co-host, Steve Orenstein, who has extensive experience in many different fields of business. I think our skills and knowledge really compliment each other and we’re able to offer different advice and perspectives based on our own journey’s. We also of course have the guests each episode that we interview, who bring a lot of awesome knowledge and personal experience to the show.
Do you edit Founders On Air or have someone who does it for you?
We outsource editing to a professional editor. Neither of us has the time and we know that audio editing isn’t our forte, so it’s worked well to involve someone who’s more efficient and experienced with this part of the process.
Do you script Founders On Air, or just chat as you go?
We normally catch up before each episode to jot down a rough list of questions for our interviewer and think about a general kind of flow. We don’t have it scripted to a T but this has really helped us make sure we’re covering all of our bases and asking the right questions to our guests to get the most valuable information for our audience.
How has Founders On Air changed or developed since you began?
I think both Steve and I have gotten much more comfortable on the mic and we’ve got into a good rhythm of how to structure the shows. I think we’ve learnt as the show has progressed the best way to phrase a question to really dig deep into our interviewee’s journeys. This has led to some awesome ‘breakthrough’ moments on the show and meant we’ve felt more comfortable having that natural banter with our guests – as many of them are friends outside of ‘Founders on Air.’
What are you biggest challenges with Founders On Air?
Definitely time! Both Steve and I have pretty hectic schedules and making time to lock in the guests, put together an episode outline and then match up all three of our calendars to actually record can be a pretty heft process. We took a brief hiatus as my business, Spacer, is seeing lots of growth in the U.S market and Steve’s company, Zoom2U, actually just went public and listed on the ASX so we needed to focus our time on making the most of these opportunities. Luckily we’re back with more episodes and really excited to be podcasting again.
What are your favourite podcasts to listen to?
It should come as no surprise that my favourite podcasts also are mostly in the business and entrepreneur space. I love ‘How I built this’, a podcast with Guy Raz from NPR, as it dives into the stories behind some of the world’s most notorious companies. ‘The Tim Ferriss Show’ is another favourite of mine. Tim is the author behind the best-selling productivity book ‘The 4 Hour Work Week’, and his podcast invites guests from all different fields to share tips on excellence and effectiveness. I find it really interesting to get fresh perspectives on ways of working and they cover such a broad range of topics on the show, it never gets boring.
How and where do you promote Founders On Air?
Currently we don’t do much in the way of promotion outside of sharing it to our network on LinkedIn and Twitter, and also promoting it through our business’ social media. We’ve been able to reach a lot of founders just through these methods but promotion is definitely something we’re looking to do more of in the near future.
Do you earn money from Founders On Air, or is it a hobby?
We created the podcast as a hobby, and even more so as a way to give back to the start-up community. We had so many people help us along our journeys and both Steve and I know we wouldn’t be where we are without the generosity and mentoring of others, so we definitely see the podcast as an avenue to ‘pay it forward’.
What’s something you never expected about podcasting? What have you learned that surprised you?
I was definitely shocked by the level of detail all of our guests have been willing to share. All of the founders that we have interviewed have been extremely open in sharing their learnings and I always come away feeling inspired and takeaway at least 1 or 2 new things to try in my own startup. I think I expected them to safeguard their secrets, but it was really awesome to see each founder sharing really specific and detailed examples of things they had been through with their company. I think this goes back to our mission, as many of our guests are also passionate about mentoring and helping other young entrepreneurs grow.
What is the first piece of advice you would give to anyone inspired to start podcasting?
Just start! I think there are so many people out there who would love to start a podcast and know they have something really unique or interesting to share. All you really need is a half-decent microphone & headphones, and then there’s nothing stopping you from trying a few things out and seeing how they go. I’d also think about who it is that you’re specifically trying to reach. For us, we knew from the start that our unique offering was that we were a podcast ‘for founders, by founders’ and that we had a great network of Australian business owners that had a lot of valuable information to share. Have a brainstorm on what this could look like, or how you can add extra value for the people in your niche.
And, finally, are your proud of what you’re accomplishing with your podcast? Is it worth the effort?
I really am! I think the podcast serves as a wonderful time capsule of where we are in our businesses, as well as our friends and guests that we’ve had on. The feedback from our community has been awesome and knowing that people genuinely have learnt from it and find it helpful makes me feel like it’s worth it. As a young entrepreneur, I would kill to know all the little tips and tricks that we share and being able to impact others definitely brings Steve and I a lot of satisfaction.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
Founder’s on Air website: https://foundersonair.com/
My website: https://www.spacer.com/
Steve’s website: https://www.zoom2u.com.au/
My LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelrosenbaum
My Twitter: https://twitter.com/mike_rosenbaum