soundBYTE wants to become the Vine for 'micro-podcasting'

December 1, 2015

Photo via Shutterstock

It can be intimidating enough for freshman tech startups to try and play ball with the heavy hitters in their industry. When the big kids they’re batting against have names like Snapchat and Facebook and Twitter, it’s a whole ’nother league entirely.

But that hasn’t deterred

, a Chicago-based social networking experience, in the slightest.

“soundBYTE is the audio version of Twitter, Instagram, and Vine,” founder Dan Kearns said. "We have the same exact concept, except with an audio twist.”

In practice, that means users can capture and share audio clips of just about anything, so long as they’re under 14 seconds. From snippets of a favorite song or random personal musings to audio of a breaking news story, soundBYTE introduces a strictly auditory element that most of the other micro-sharing platforms lack.

Kearns said the inspiration for the app came in part from the increasing popularity of podcasting. He points to the success of shows like This American Life, which attracts millions of downloads. Combine that with hordes of social media users, and you’ve got a recipe Kearns hopes will lead to success.

It's an approach he calls micro-podcasting.

Still, soundBYTE is up against some of the biggest juggernauts in tech. Kearns said that connection can be advantageous: It’s easy for soundBYTE to reproduce a format and infrastructure companies like Vine and Instagram have already proven to resonate.

But he added that the comparison can also be detrimental, especially when the app — which is currently operating in beta — might still be working out a few kinks.

In the end, Kearns steered clear of pitting his app against the standards.

“To me, it’s not really competition. It’s a complement,” Kearns said, adding that SoundBYTE can leverage other platforms to share their audio messages and engage their established audiences, in turn attracting users to his own app.

Although still in beta, the app is open to the public via the Apple store. Kearns added that an Android app is coming soon.

Until then, Kearns said the goal is to continue gathering market feedback and making product enhancements wherever necessary. The app’s already secured two small rounds of funding, and Kearns said they’ve nabbed about 800 active users.

“Most people think, ‘How are you going to compete with the Twitters and Instagrams of the world?” he said. “Those apps and social media platforms have everyone's attention like you wouldn’t believe. How is the little guy going to come in and steal some of those minutes of someone’s day from the big dogs?”

Perhaps soundBYTE’s hard launch, which Kearns anticipates in summer 2016, will answer that question. 

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