Sometimes when two passions collide, a business is born. That’s the story of Dylan Pugh, an ex-rugby player and previous Spotify employee. He’s brought together his love of sport and technology to found Pomodo, a business that helps sportspeople become podcasters.

“I found that a lot of sports podcasts were similar in format and interviewed similar people. There was a gap for fresher voices,” he says.

Through the company Pomodo, sportspeople are managed and guided through the process of creating a podcast. Dylan approaches sportspeople to ask if they would consider becoming hosts and they work together to create a podcast structure and find interviewees.

Dylan and his team then organise recording, editing and monetisation through advertisements or partnerships. He opened his Starling business account this summer, just before starting Pomodo.

Launching a business post-lockdown

“I had the idea in April, during the lockdown. I had time to reflect, do some research, chat to people and think about how it could work. I thought I could do it on the side but I quickly realised that it needed to be all or nothing.”

He said goodbye to the Spotify team in July and launched Pomodo in August. He’s been charting his progress through his own podcast, Pomodo - the StartUp Journey, and currently manages two other podcasts, including the chart-topping Couples Quarantine podcast with ex-rugby player James Haskell and TV presenter Chloe Madeley.

“My background is in rugby so most of my relationships are there but I’ve also had conversations with footballers, crickets, snooker players and Formula One drivers.”

Dylan, 39, spent the majority of his professional rugby career with the team London Welsh. He played nearly 100 games, before pursuing a new challenge: a career in tech. Over the last 16 years, he’s gained experience with PlayStation, online games provider Zynga, and Spotify. His most recent role was Global Agency Lead at Spotify, through which he headed up podcast monetisation.

Dylan Pugh, founder of Pomodo

His leap from employee to entrepreneur was supported by two key factors: data suggesting that the podcast industry will continue to grow and engage listeners, and a safety net of personal savings. “I’ve always been a saver,” he says. “I’m most definitely not a reckless person. Once I’d decided to go for it, I moved extremely quickly, but I did so knowing that I had the security of that chunk of money in the bank.”

The rise of podcasts

For Dylan, podcasts have gained popularity for three reasons. One: on-demand culture with listeners choosing and playing a show instantly, rather than listening live. Two: advancing technology, for example voice-activated devices or TVs that can play podcasts, making them more accessible. Three: investment from big tech companies.

He also highlights three reasons people like to listen to podcasts. “Firstly for entertainment through comedy, fiction or true crime shows; secondly for companionship from listening to two or three hosts chatting and developing a personal relationship to them; thirdly for education.”

In creating and guiding a new podcast, Dylan clearly defines why a listener might enjoy the conversations - entertainment, companionship and/or education. He also gives honest feedback to the hosts, following the principles of Kim Scott’s book Radical Candor.

“It’s about mastering the skill of giving someone very clear feedback in as sensitive a way as possible,” he says. “It generally works well with sportspeople. They’ll say to me, ‘Look, I get judged on a weekly basis by 20,000 fans. I have my coach going through videos every week. I’ve got thick skin - tell me exactly how it is.’”

Advice for business owners

A positive attitude and commitment to his work is everything for Dylan. “Fail fast, iterate and move on, always be transparent, and to stick to your values,” he says.

Discipline is also extremely important to him, something learned from his days as a professional rugby player. “I want to put in the work and not let my teammates down. I work from 6m to 10pm but not solidly - I’m not bound by 9am-5pm meetings, I choose when to play with the kids or do my exercise,” he says. “Keeping fit is extremely important for my mental wellbeing. Most people exercise from a physical perspective but for me, it’s more from a mental perspective.”

Welsh founders

Part of the reason he chose to bank with Starling was to support a fellow Welsh founder. Starling’s CEO and founder Anne Boden was born and bred in Swansea, not far from the Amman Valley where Dylan grew up.

“I’ve always been keen on mobile-first tech companies. I don’t want to be spammed with paper,” he says. “The main thing for me is that when I open the app, everything is user-friendly. The USD business account has also been crucial - I needed to send and receive USD from the beginning.” Starling’s business account for limited companies or sole traders has no monthly fees, while the additional USD business account costs £5 per month.

Wales also plays a part in the name Pomodo. “I was watching a documentary with the kids on CBeebies about Komodo dragons. I thought they were pretty cool and I played around changing the ‘K’ to ‘P’. There’s also the additional link of dragons and Wales.”

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