If you’re the kind of person who’s got a pile of business books on your desk, books that make you think, “God, when am I going to have the time to read these?” — well, you might want to check a new smartphone app called Audvisor.
The startup offers advice in the form of three-minute audio clip from more than 100 contributors like author/blogger Seth Godin, venture capitalist and lecturer Heidi Roizen, and tech evangelist/author Guy Kawasaki s. It’s also announcing today that it has raised $1.4 million in seed funding from angel investors including Formation 8’s Shirish Sathaye.
Why three minutes? Co-founder Michael Martin suggested that your attention tends to wander if you go longer, plus, the short format means Audvisor can help people learn during their “small pockets of unused time.” The app is currently focused on professional topics (basically, the kind of stuff you’d find in business advice books), but he suggested that it could expand into other subject areas.
When you launch Audvisor, you can browse through different topics like “advance my career” or “be a great leader”, or look at a list of experts who have contributed. The easiest thing to do, however, is to just let the app start playing, and as you skip some clips and give a thumbs up to others, it gets an idea of what you’re looking for. Then the app will begin personalizing the feed to your interests. (In the funding press release, one of the app’s advice-givers, Jason Womack, describes it as “Pandora for thought leadership.”)
And yes, if you hear a clip that you want your Facebook friends or Twitter followers to hear, there’s a share button as well.
As for where the clips come from, Martin said his team conducted interviews for about an hour and half with each expert, then broke them down into smaller clips focused on a single topic. (In a few cases, it’s acquiring clips that weren’t created by their team, but co-founder Rajesh Setty estimated that 95 percent of Audvisor’s library is original content.)
With this approach, Audvisor takes care of all the production hassles, while the expert just has to show up and be smart for 90 minutes. Martin contrasted this with a podcast, where “you had to handle all the heavy lifting yourself.” At the same time, Setty said Audvisor plans to eventually launch an app where experts could do their own recording (as well as view data about how their existing content is doing).
Audvisor is free but limited to about 1,000 clips, with Setty saying the company will charge for a pro version that offers full access to the Audvisor library. He also suggested that Audvisor could start working more closely with other businesses on corporate learning. (In some ways it’s trying to tap into similar trends as Grovo, a startup that helps businesses train their employees through short videos.)
By the way, Martin and Setty said they’re quite strict about that three-minute limit. When conducting interviews, they try to help the interviewees wrap up their answers within the allotted time, and if it doesn’t work, they’ll edit the answers down. Martin argued that if speakers go over the limit, it undermines one of Audvisor’s main selling points: “It’s like if you’re 24 Hour Fitness and you’re closed between 11 and 12. It defeats the purpose.”