The Podcast App aims to be the simplest way to listen to podcasts

While it sometimes feels like everyone has a podcast nowadays, the truth is that most Americans still don’t listen to podcasts regularly. The Y Combinator-backed team behind The Podcast App is planning to change that.

And yes, that’s the app’s real name. Co-founder and CEO Martín Siniawski said that no one else claimed it first.

Siniawski argued that most existing podcast apps were built years ago, “when it was a really different medium.” They’re designed for people who already understand what a podcast is, already know which podcasts they’re looking for and already understand what it means to subscribe.

In contrast, Siniawski said The Podcast App is designed to be “extremely fast, extremely easy and extremely reliable and stable.”

How easy? Well, the website boasts that it’s “so simple even your grandma could use it.”

“We’ve invested heavily on making sure that we can onboard people and take them step-by-step in a way that doesn’t overwhelm them,” Siniawski said.

So when you first open up the app, you’re asked to identify your interests, and then you get a list of podcast recommendations. Once you’re looking at a specific podcast, you can browse all or episodes or just the “Best Of” (curated based on The Podcast App’s engagement data), then hit buttons to favorite the show and download individual episodes.

The Podcast App

Beyond making the app easy to understand, Siniawski said he’s also focused on helping people find the right podcast for them. Creating good app-wide and podcast-specific search features helps, and so do the Best Of lists, but he said that’s just the beginning.

For one thing, there’s more to be done in search, like indexing the full content of the episodes, not just the titles and descriptions. For another, Siniawski is hoping to take more of a Netflix-style approach to “leverage more and more of that data to provide recommendations.”

The Podcast App has built up a library of 30 million episodes, and includes most of the big names in podcasting. (It also includes TechCrunch podcasts like Original Content and CTRL-T. Just saying.) In the future, Siniawski said he’s hoping to work with podcasters to work on original programming, and to incorporate more types of advertising and subscriptions (the startup currently limits its own monetization to display ads that run in the app).

Oh, and if you’re wondering how Siniawski was able to get such a straightforward (and search-friendly) name for his app, the answer is simple: No one claimed it first.

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Marijuana soda startup California Dreamin’ wants to replace booze

“Enjoy a light, social high” says the funky bottle of California Dreamin’ cannabis -infused sparkling pomegranate juice. Launching today at Y Combinator Demo Day, California Dreamin’ is serving up an alcohol alternative that still gets you lit, but without the same hangover or health issues.

Each bottle contains 10 milligrams of THC — an industry standard dose of the psychoactive chemical in marijuana. The company only uses sativa, the more energizing, euphoric type of pot, compared to the more body relaxing Indica variety. That’s compared to some competing marijuana beverages with as much as 100mg — enough that a single sip will get you high and bottle will lay out all but the hardiest stoners. “We want it to be a light, head high feel” says Seven Cities Beverage Company aka California Dreamin’ co-founder Amy Ludlum. “We don’t want to give anyone couch lock. We want it to be social.”

Meanwhile, the taste marries fruity sweetness with a hint of earthy plant life complexity that will titillate long-time cannabis fans. Bottles come in other flavors like tangerine, grapefruit, and cranberry apple, and will retail for about $8 to $10 each. Cases are rolling out to recreational dispensaries in San Francisco like The Barbary Coast over the next week.

California Dreamin’ has succeeded in creating a beverage with the light-hearted brand, logical dosage, and agreeable taste to be something you can drink casually and socially, not just when you want to get ridiculously high. That makes it a better alternative or complement to drinking alcohol. It’s certainly not for everyone. Paranoia, anxiety, and post-high grogginess are all common side-effects of sativa, and you shouldn’t drive while blazed. But there are plenty of people who want an option to unwind that doesn’t involve a literal poison, or smoking a burning plant that can hurt your lungs.

The only problem is that California and other states with legal recreational marijuana ban the sale of anything cannabis related anywhere that serves alcohol. That means you aren’t likely to see California Dreamin’ in a bar any time soon, but you could throw a pretty fun backyard barbecue. But with 1 million medical marijuana users out of 28 million California adults, and with over half of the voting population supporting cannabis legalization, there’s plenty of room to build a brand in this space.

Inebriation is America’s true national pastime. You could see it as people just seeking an escape from daily troubles, but it’s also a way to shift our thinking to get a new perspective on the world. Considering how much we pay for entertainment that’s merely stimulus we filter through our perception, $10 to pleasantly alter that perception is not a half-baked idea.