Exclusive Q&A with UAE-based podcast network, Kerning Cultures: they share their challenges with raising funding, how they will use their SEED investment to scale across MENA and share secret tips for entrepreneurs!

Q: Can you please give a short introduction about Kerning Cultures?

A: Kerning Cultures is building the premier Middle East podcast network. Our stories are raising the bar for audio journalism in the Middle East and bridging a gap with the West through our English-language stories.

Q: What were the challenges you’ve encountered around fundraising in the past?

A: Fundraising in the Middle East in and of itself is a challenge and fundraising for a media startup even more so. Most VCs are interested in tech solutions in the forms of apps and platforms, not in content creators – despite the significant role media plays in all of our lives. The value of podcasting is proven by industry examples like the Spotify acquisition of Gimlet Media at $230M just a few months ago, a podcast network Kerning Cultures has been compared to.

Q: What influenced your decision to seek a funding now?

A: We’ve been bootstrapping Kerning Cultures for the past four years, and we were able to demonstrate our potential to investors with our audience growth. Our inaugural show proved that there is a huge demand for content like this in the market, and this seed round will help us continue to produce even more high-quality shows.

Q: Why was it beneficial to have multiple investors?

A: Each of our investors is bringing something different to our company: whether it’s industry expertise or otherwise.

Q: What’s the lesson learned from securing a seed round of funding?

A: It’s a volumes game, kind of like dating. You’re really searching for the people who are compatible with you, your team, and the vision you’re building in this world. And, just like dating, you’ll meet a lot of people that don’t fit, and you keep looking until you meet investors that you click with.

Q: Will your investors take an active role in the future decisions of Kerning Cultures?

A: Yes, we’re keen on involving our investors in our strategy.

Q: How do you look to scale across the region?

A: We’re planning to expand across the region through our production, tailoring shows to different markets across the Middle East.

Q: What are your plans/how will you use the funding?

A: We’re doubling down on production in the coming months. We’ll be launching 3 new Arabic and English shows by the end of 2019. We’re also planning to invest in marketing and growing an enthusiastic audience.

Q: Any piece of advice to fellow entrepreneurs looking to raise funding?

A: When it comes to pitching to your investors, you should have two different pitch decks: one for in-person meetings, and one for email conversations. When you meet investors in person, the deck can be more visual since you’re able to walk them through many details in your presentation. Over email, they’ll be reading your pitch on their own without your voice in the room, so it requires more information on the page.

A: Share your pitch deck with a lot of people from different professional backgrounds in the beginning to get as diverse feedback as possible – everything from readability to lingering questions afterwards. And you should never feel like you have to incorporate all the feedback, but at the end of the day you should listen to the opinions that resonate the most with your gut instinct. You’ll continue to revise your deck in between presentations, and that’s okay. We were updating our deck well into the last two months of fundraising.

A: Lastly, fundraising is very much a volumes game. You’re looking for the people and VC firms who see the world you’re building as you do. It takes time and a lot of conversations to find the right people. Keep a spreadsheet mapping your conversations and where things were left with people, so you can follow up appropriately. 

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