What does it take to go from being broke and living out in a hostel for five months to becoming a serial tech entrepreneur and building two multimillion-dollar companies? Bernardo de la Vega, the host of The Next Big Pivot podcast and the man behind the app, Fiesta, sits down with Melanie Parish to share with us his journey. He gives us a view of how he is creating the TikTok for podcasts and how, as a leader, he is going after the blue ocean and facing challenges during the uncertain COVID-19 world. Having been working with podcasts, Bernardo then shares his opinions on what makes a good podcaster.
Listen to the podcast here:
TikTok For Podcasts, The Blue Ocean, And The COVID-19 Pandemic With Bernardo de la Vega
I'm here with Bernardo de la Vega. Bernardo is a tech serial entrepreneur who built and sold two seven-figure companies and the host of The Next Big Pivot podcast. Bernardo also has a film production company with a new movie coming out. Previously, he worked in financial services and was a professional salsa dancer. His new company, the Fiesta app, which is the TikTok for podcasts, integrates with Alexa and Google Home. He's focused on growing it with content, marketing and voice.
Bernardo has a unique story. He used to work in Corporate America. In 2013, when Bernardo made the switch to being an entrepreneur, he went broke and lived out of a hostel for five months. While trying multiple businesses online, Bernardo was gone to build two multimillion-dollar companies. Bernardo is known for his creative marketing skills, which he’s used across industries such as beauty, food, health and wellness, and tech. He's passionate and knowledgeable when talking about tech marketing, sales and branding, and what makes businesses successful.
Bernardo, I'm excited to have you on the show.
Thank you for having me.
I'd like to dive right in. I'd love to hear some of the things that you're up to. What are you doing in your work life?
I have two main companies. One is called the Fiesta app, which is applicable to podcasters like yourself. We are focusing a little bit more on the direct-to-consumer brands, eCommerce brands and influencers. The Fiesta app is TikTok for podcast. It's the easiest way to record and promote your podcast. Instead of using Zoom or Squadcast or any of those software, you would use Fiesta to record the podcast. There's a highlight button where you click the button and it grabs the last one-minute clip of the recording. At the end of the podcast, you have 20, 25, 30-minute recording. You have 3 or 4 one-minute clips, which you can use to promote on social media. For those people who definitely promote their podcast on social media, the best way to do that is with small video clips. That's what Fiesta does.
What we've seen is, which I'm sure you've probably seen as well, there are quite a bit of done-for-you podcast agencies that will do your editing and will do all those post-production in the B2B space. There's little going on in the Instagram, influencer or TikTok space. What we are doing is we are getting influencers to host the podcast and then interview other influencers. We do this under a podcast which we get a brand to sponsor. It's an interesting model that is untapped. So far, it's working well for us. That's what we're doing and that's what Fiesta focuses on. We are a software that makes podcasting easy to record and promote your podcast.
Are you hosting the podcasts as well?
You would still need to use Libsyn or Buzzsprout or Simplecast. What do you use?
I have no idea. I have a company that helps.
You still need one of those. Eventually, we will build that. Now, you would still use a hosting platform. To your point, you are using an agency that does all the post-production and it makes sense. Most entrepreneurs are busy and they're like, “I don't want to deal with those post-production and the editing. I'll give that to somebody else to do it.”
It's such an interesting world, the world of podcasting. I'm fairly new to it. For me, if I were doing anything on it, it would lag. I have a full practice. I work with organizations. I get called out. There's no way for me to deliver anything as steady as a podcast. What sounds interesting about your app, your program is that you're able to make it available to a different marketplace. That’s interesting, the creativity of it all.
We are a platform. We're like a SaaS company. We're a software. At the same time, we said, “What's the best way to launch this?” There’s the strategy of red ocean and blue ocean. Red ocean would be to contact a lot of entrepreneurs in the B2B space. Certainly, there's a lot of demand. Obviously, it's a red ocean. We're like, “What if we go on the other side of the equation and go after a direct to consumer brand and go after the influencers?” There's a big advantage there because they already have a big following. Sometimes they’re great entrepreneurs, but they don't have this big audience. They have their clients or they have the different companies that they work with. If you go with an influencer, they'll have 200,000, 300,000, 400,000 followers, whether it's on Instagram or TikTok. They haven't explored podcasting. That's where we saw some blue ocean and we're like, “Let's go after that.” So far, it's going well.
I love that you were looking for blue ocean. That's interesting. As a leader, when you're going after blue ocean, what do you think the thinking is? What do you have to hold as the person leading the charge, so to speak, as you do the work to create space in a blue ocean?
We launched the platform and you will have to look at what is making sense and where is your product-market fit. We started working with some podcasters and we're like, “They like the platform.” At the same time, when we asked them what they were using, they're like, “I'm using this platform and this platform.” To get to some of the big podcasters with big audiences, they already have a team. We're like, “What is the best way to approach this? Is it going after that red ocean? Do we take a step back and look at who would be a great audience for us to target?”
I've built and sold two seven-figure eCommerce companies. For example, my beauty company that I sold in 2018, we had a good program of influencers. I know well how they work. With my food and kitchen appliance company, which is called Mealthy, which I sold, we also had a great influencer program. Certainly, there are some interesting things there where we said, “Let's do this and let's do that. Let's go after these influencers.” Because I have that expertise in that area, to me, it seemed like the logical place to go even though no one is doing it.
I'm taken because I work so much in the B2B space. I'm B2B. My work is B2B. My clients are often B2B. This whole term of influencer has my brain twisting and thinking, “Who were the influencers in my field in coaching and executive coaching?” It's a little step to the left or a little different. It's an interesting way for an organization, even in B2B, to think about how can they leverage influencers in their own businesses in a way they haven't before. What challenges have you been facing during COVID and the uncertainty in the world? What have you as a leader been up against?
I have a podcast and it's called The Next Big Pivot. The reason I bring that up is because Fiesta has been one big pivot. I was like, “Let me launch a podcast also about how we pivoted.” We started working on Fiesta last September 2019. We launched in February 2020. When we launched, it was a completely different idea. It was an improved version of Eventbrite because we felt there was a big opportunity there. For example, I live in Miami, and there's a whole lot of people who come to Miami and then they're wondering, “Where do I go? Do I go to this bar or that party or this nightclub?” There's no place that tells you exactly where to go based on the kind of music that you like, based on the crowd, based on the atmosphere that you're looking for. You can do a google search and each club has their own Instagram page, but it's all over the place. It's hard to tell. This happens in all the big cities. I said, “Let's go ahead and try to solve this problem. There certainly seems to be a need.”
We launched and then COVID hit. Every single event got canceled and we're like, “Our whole business model is kaput,” for lack of a better word. We said, “What if we do virtual events?” We said, “If our platform is a combination of Eventbrite with Zoom, virtual events where you have a list of all these different events and you can RSVP and then you can join and then you're into that room. You enter that event and that works.” We got to 5,000 monthly active users fast. What we saw was that people were like, “Can I have 80 people in my event? Can I have 150 people? Can I have breakout rooms?” We felt compared to Zoom, it was a direct comparison. Therefore, we took a step back and we said, “Is this the best place to go? Based on all our features and everything we have, is there something different that we could do?”
It turned out it checked out for podcast. Why? Because we had a couple of people do interviews on our platform and people were interested in these. We're like, “They're doing a little a podcast interview with an audience.” If we already have all this functionality, we could do TikTok for podcasts. That idea came about and that sounded interesting and that's what we pursued. To your question of how has COVID affected us? It has massively affected us. We were in the event space. As you well know, the event space and the restaurant businesses have had to pivot massively. The events space has gone virtual. Many different companies have either pivoted into virtual or pivoted into something else. Restaurants, obviously, have been bullish on takeout and delivery. That has been our experience. Certainly, a lot of pivots and a lot of trying to be like, “Is this the right move? Is that the right move given everything that's happened?”
There are two things that I hear that I like. One is you thinking about, “Is this the best use of us?” It's not like, “Can we do it?” but, “Can we do it well?” I like that you asked that question. Looking to see how people were already using what you did, that’s such a great feedback loop. “What are they already doing with us and how can we amplify that?” It gives you your proof of concept upfront. You build around the proof of concept, which is cool. I want to ask you, what keeps you awake at night?
One of my idols is Elon Musk. I was listening to an interview he did on Sway, a new podcast by Kara Swisher, which I like because I listen to the Pivot. There's a podcast called Pivot. Mine is called The Next Big Pivot and then there is Sway. Both are good podcasts. I certainly recommend those. It’s some of my favorite podcasts. When Elon was talking, he said, “There are many ideas going through my head that sometimes at night, it’s hard to turn all these thoughts off and go to sleep.” When he said that, I was like, “I can certainly resonate with that.” I do have a lot of different ideas. One of the things I'm working on is Fiesta. The other one that I didn't mention is we're launching a media company in Mexico around amateur soccer.
We're launching this media company and then we're launching an app that's like Uber or Airbnb but for amateur sports, specifically amateur soccer because there's massive demand. Every little town in Mexico has multiple soccer leagues because everybody plays soccer all the time and that's what they love to do. It's like professional soccer but on a much smaller level. There's a lot of money being exchanged. It’s like, “You want to play on my team? I'll pay you $200, $300, $400 and you can play on my team. You're a forward. You're a goalie.” There's a lot of activity there. That's another thing that I'm working on. To your question, there are all these ideas going on that I have. It's hard to turn off the switch because I'm like, “What if we do this? What if we do that?”
What are some of your challenges as a leader? It doesn't sound like coming up with good ideas is one of them. What are some of the things that you notice about yourself and are challenged by?
Ideas, that's not where I struggle. I would say I struggle with two things. One, sometimes execution, operating in the day-to-day because I have many ideas that we're doing one thing and I'm like, “What if we did this?” While that is an enhancement to what we're doing, sometimes you're going in a straight line to a certain path and then if you come up with all these different ideas, now you're not going to that straight path of, “This is our goal.” You added these other things that will make the end goal much better, but now you start deviating. I would say that's definitely one of the challenges that I, at least, struggle and sometimes execution of staying in my lane. I'm like, “What about this?” I do like to explore. There are the pros and cons. The pro is there's a whole lot of ideas there. Con is you can definitely do a little bit too much and not get anywhere or not to get anywhere concrete or it takes you longer. I would say that's one of the biggest things that I struggle with because of this idea generation.
You're a podcaster and you work in a field of podcasters. What makes a good podcast?
I do listen to about 20 to 25 podcasts per week. I am an avid podcast listener. I do have my own podcasts as well. For me, what makes a good podcast is a couple of things. There's one podcast which is my absolute favorite. It's called My First Million. One of the guys is the Founder of TheHustle.co. He’s a great guy, Sam Parr and with Sean. What I like about that podcast and what I do also well is they're always throwing out ideas, “What about this business?” They start analyzing all these different businesses like business models, why it could be profitable, why it's working, why it wouldn't work, how to apply ideas from one business to another business. This podcast has all these ideas. They are doing a bunch of interviews, and they still do interviews, but what they realized is that when it's throwing out ideas for businesses, it seems like 2/3 of the audience like that better than the typical interview. To me, that was interesting.
Before that, I had always listened to podcasts interviews like this one. What’s interesting is they're throwing out all these ideas. For an entrepreneur, you're always looking at, “What's my next move? What are some businesses that I can explore? If I was to exit my company and I was to go into another company or if invest in all these different companies, what things am I looking at?” That’s what is interesting about that podcast. A podcast needs to speak to its audience the way this one does to entrepreneurs where it's coming up with all these ideas and analyzing whether that business model is feasible. It targets the entrepreneur that loves talking about business, but more than that, talking about business models and ideas and what's the next business model or business concept that is doing extremely well that you have not been exposed to.
Once you hear about that on the podcast, you're like, “If I apply this idea to this other business, that's good.” That's a little bit of Richard Branson or Elon Musk where you grab one thing and you apply it into all these other different things. Elon Musk, the typical scenario of electric cars and batteries where he has Tesla but he also has his other companies that use electricity and solar energy. He has The Boring Company, also with electric fueled energy, and then he has his rockets. A lot of good connections. What I look for in a podcast is the stimulation of thoughts and creativity to be able to connect the dots.
What do you do for self-care for yourself?
I go to the gym for about 4 or 5 times a week. I like going to the gym. I used to be a professional salsa dancer. The reason I bring that up is because we're in COVID, but when we're not in COVID, I go dancing about 2 or 3 times a week. Some people, it's going for a run, doing all sorts of different things, going hiking. For me, what relaxes me is going dancing. I used to be a professional salsa dancer. This might not sound too humble, but I'm good at dancing given I was a professional. That relaxes me. The thrill of the day of, “Let's do this business and that business,” and then sometimes of me going dancing. There are not too many male entrepreneurs who like to go dancing to relax. That is something I would say I'm in a unique position. Between going to the gym and going dancing during non-COVID times, that's something that I like to do.
Mine is swimming, by the way. I love it a lot. It’s pure joy, and apparently meditation. I didn't realize that until COVID that that’s my version of meditation. Bernardo, where can people find you?
They can reach out to me on LinkedIn DMs and Instagram DMs and going to the Fiesta website, which is Fiesta.app.
It's been amazing having you on the show. I wish you all the luck with your Fiesta app. I hope that it works well for you. It's been a real pleasure.
Thank you so much.
I've been talking with Bernardo de la Vega about how he pivoted in COVID with his Fiesta app and launched a great podcast app for people who are influencers in the B2C space. It’s interesting to hear how he took what people were already doing and using the feedback loops that he already had to decide where to take his product. It's been a pleasure talking with Bernardo. Go experiment
About Bernardo de la Vega
So, you know how every new and upcoming podcaster struggles to grow their audience..
Sadly, there are very few applications that can help them save time with their busy schedule
With Career and Family obligations, time becomes our most valuable asset. On top of that It can take you from 1-2 hours to edit the audio of your podcast
Not to mention the hours it will take to go back and find the best parts of your podcast to create short clips
Unfortunately there aren’t any applications where you can record your podcast and instantly create video clips … until now
We created Fiesta for podcasters to save time and grow their audience using video!
If you are looking for better reach and promotion of your podcast, connect with me.
A public speaker, consultant, workshop leader, author, and Master Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation, from whom she received the Prism Award, Melanie is an expert in problem-solving, constraints management, operations, strategic hiring, and brand development.