In 2008, I had a design job where I spent most of my days sitting at the computer doing SolidWorks. My office was in a cube farm and the atmosphere had about as much life as a Chernobyl cooling pond. The minutes dragged on, and eventually I started to bring headphones to listen to some music. It helped but then I got bored of listening to the same stuff over and over. It was about this time that podcasting started to tiptoe into the main stream. I was a big fan of the movie Clerks, and was excited to find that the director, Kevin Smith had a podcast called Smodcast. I downloaded every episode and I designed parts while Kevin had heart-to-heart conversations with my favorite Clerks characters. Eventually I had 4-5 podcasts including some from NPR, the BBC, as well as comedy shows like Adam Corolla and Greg Proops. I became their anonymous friends while they talked me through the day. I have been a fiend for podcasts ever since.
Seven years on and podcasts are bigger than ever. Shows like Serial have millions of downloads per episode and have become standard entertainment for commuters and gym goers. Outside the mainstream successes there are podcasts that cover every genre and interest, and plenty that can help inventors too. Here are my 5 favorite podcasts for inventors, prototypers, and product developers.
Due to its great story telling, StartUp has mass appeal, but it is must listening for seasoned or newbie inventors. It is hosted by Alex Blumberg, former producer of This American Life and founder of NPR’s Planet Money. In a style similar to This American Life, Alex chronicles his own journey to found his podcasting company Gimlet Media. It tells the often embarrassing tale of how he approached inventors for funding, refined his pitch, found a partner, and decided on a name for his company. The best parts of the show are the interludes where he discusses the state of his venture with his wife, Nazanin. Their unfiltered moments are a great insight into how starting a company affects a family and a relationship. They have just finished their second season where they follow the startup dating company, Dating Ring. The third season is set to drop in the fall.
Art of the Kickstart is a podcast for inventors about crowdfunding hosted by Matt Ward. He interviews inventors and entrepreneurs that are using the platform to get their products into production and gets them to share their keys to success. Some of his guests are big hitting authors and entrepreneurs like Seth Godin. However, many of them are first time inventors and small business owners that are relatable to the average garage inventor and budding entrepreneur. One of his interviews was Enventys client, Brandon Dierker, inventor of the Collar Perfect travel iron (Episode 62). Matt has an engaging style and gets great details about the often twisty path from lightning bolt moment to manufactured product and reveals great tips to help the journey. With 110 episodes and counting, Matt will keep you informed and inspired for months.
Chris Hawker, inventor of the Power Squid and President of product development firm Trident Design, is the host of Inventor’s Mind. Chris has been in product development for over 20 years and has brought over 70 products to market. His insights are relevant for inventors of every level. His episodes cover crowdfunding, keys to getting a product licensed, advice for going to tradeshows, and how to get a licensing meeting. In addition to the great advice, he also interviews other product development professionals including a candid chat with Edison Nation CEO, Louis Foreman in episode 5. Many of the episodes are under 10 minutes, but they are packed with great information that will help you get your ideas out of your mind and into reality.
Not to be confused with comedian Marc Maron’s entertainment interview podcast, WTF, WTFFF?! is a podcast for inventors about 3D printing where FFF stands for “Fused Filament Fabrication”. The hosts are Tracy and Tom Hazzard, married couple and co-owners of Hazz Design Consulting, which has more than 20 years of design experience in consumer products. They use 3D printing as part of their process and their growing pains and a learning curve using the technology led them to starting a podcast about 3D printing for the small business or home user. They cover a plethora of topics from printing issues like clogged extruder heads, where to find good 3D models, and careers in 3D printing. Many of the episodes are less than 10 minutes, providing efficient information to help you get the most from your 3D printer or learn more about the process.
Launchpad is a yet to be released podcast from Josh Springer, the inventor of the Bottom’s Up draft beer filling system. It is due to launch in late summer of 2015, and will feature interviews with entrepreneurs and product developers to hear the gory details of how business are started and products brought to market. Josh has a fascinating journey from working at a sign shop, to almost going to federal prison, to becoming the founder of a successful business. The episodes will be candid and dig deep into the successes and failures on the road to bringing products to market, and I am eagerly anticipating the first episodes.