Sure, Zach Moreno is the CEO, CTO, and co-founder of SquadCast.fm. But who is he outside of work? That’s the subject of today’s episode, which is a feed drop from Rabiah Coon’s podcast More Than Work.
Rabiah has been a member of the SquadPod for about a year now and we love showing off our community’s work. We’re excited to share this episode with you. If you like it, please check out her podcast!
Listen in to learn
- What motivated Zach to start SquadCast.fm
- About Zach’s art background
- What Zach has learned about himself and communication as a founder
- About Zach’s meditation and yoga practices
- What it’s like to be a new father!
Also in this episode
- A pre-roll ad from Deadair Dennis Maler for his podcast, So, What Do You Really Do?
- Listen to Rabiah’s podcast
- Written and produced by Arielle Nissenblatt
- Mixed and designed by Vince Moreno Jr
- Artwork and logos by Alex Whedbee
- Transcript for Ian Powell
- Hosted by Zach Moreno and Rock Felder
DEADAIR DENNIS MALER: Thanks for downloading this episode of Between Two Mics. My name’s Deadair Dennis Maler. And I want to tell you about a show that I think you’ll enjoy and it’s recorded via Squadcast. I’m the host of So What Do You Really Do?, a podcast where I interview artists and entertainers about their day jobs talking about what we have to do during the day to support what we want to do at night. You can find it online at deadairdennis.com/podcasts and everywhere, a podcast or. Alright. And now let’s get to the show.
ZACHARIAH MORENO: Welcome to Between Two Mics, the Squadcast podcast. It’s Zach here, Squadcast CEO and co-founder. And today on the show, we’re sharing an episode with Rabiah Coon’s podcast called More Than Work. More Than Work is a podcast that explores who people are outside of their day jobs. Rabiah has been a member of the SquadPod for a while now. As you may or may not know, SquadPod is what we call our community. And community is a huge part of the Squadcast story. We have a Slack channel where we’re in regular communication with our customers. They can share ideas, questions, events, ask for support and much more. We also have a community share page where Squadcasters can share content, and we’ll blast it all over the internet. That’s at squadcast.fm/share. We’ve gotten to know a bunch of the SquadPodders over the past year. And we love showing off their work. Rabiah, recently interviewed me about Squadcast, my founder story, and lots more. So we wanted to play that chat for you here, on this episode. Take it away, Rabiah.
RABIAH COON: This is More Than Work. The podcast reminding you that your self worth is made up of more than your job title. Each week, I’ll talk to a guest about how they discovered that for themselves. You’ll hear about what they did, what they’re doing and who they are. I’m your host, Rabiah, I work in IT, performed stand-up comedy, write, and volunteer. And of course, podcast. Thank you for listening. Here we go!
Zach Moreno is one of the co-founders of Squadcast where I’m recording this right now, and where I record the podcast, and I really love the software and the product, but I also love the people. There’s a great community that I’m a part of now as a podcaster and podcasting can be quite a solo and lonely activity. Even when I’m interviewing people, outside of that, there’s a lot that goes on to put this episode up, or any episode up. And it’s, it’s really cool to be part of a community of people and to have connected with people on an individual level who understand that and who get kind of just the, the experience. And, um, Zach is one of the people who’s enabled that in the case of Squadcast. And I got to chat with him and he was really open with me, like a lot of guests. I just always appreciate it. I don’t take it for granted. So we talked about all kinds of things about founding the company and the company in the way they did, which is amazing and what it means for him and also about him being a Latinx founder and about depression and anxiety and dealing with that. And I always, I always liked those opportunities with guests. And we talked about, he works with his family, so that’s really cool. Just to hear that. I grew up, um, my parents owned a business together, and so my brother worked there for quite a while. Uh, it was an auto repair shop, and every once in a while, I’d would help with invoicing. I didn’t help out as much as I should have, probably, considering it was my parents’ business and funding our lives. But, um, you know, so it was neat to hear him talk about that. He’s an artist. And so talked about just design and how he applies empathy to design and UX. And so we get into a lot of subjects and I really, I just, I loved chatting with Zach and I’ll have his co-founder Rock, on the podcast a few weeks from now as well. I just interviewed him, but it’s a really special episode. So thanks for bearing with my COVID rant. I’m going to listen to it now and see if I keep it. But I imagine I will. But yeah, let’s, let’s do it. Let’s go.
My guest this week is Zach Moreno and he’s from Squadcast, which is what we’re actually recording on. So this is really cool and kind of meta for us to be doing so. Thanks for being on, Zach.
ZACH MORENO: Thank you, Rabiah. I really, really appreciate it. It’s going to be fun.
RABIAH: So, Zach, where am I talking to you from?
ZACH: I am on the East Bay in Oakland, California, and yeah, I’m from California. I grew up in the Central Valley and been out here for a few years. And our company is remot- first and kind of always has been, so teams all over the place.
RABIAH: That’s awesome. Yeah. I work for a company that’s remote and it’s been about five years, and it was so novel to people during the last year and a half for almost two years. Right. Where they’re like, oh, we have to work remote. And we’re like, yeah, we’ve been doing it the whole time.
ZACH: [laughs] Yeah. It’s like all of a sudden, it, it feels like an advantage that we didn’t really need to adapt much anyway. And yeah, there’s some things that we really cultivate in, in our conversations in our culture with, with our team that I think help us communicate with the remote team across time zones and stuff like that. So building a platform that helps content creators collaborate and create studio quality content from anywhere is like pretty close to home for us. We, we practice it as a team.
RABIAH: Mhm. Yeah, it’s really cool. And I mean, just so some people know, can you just describe what Squadcast is? If anyone’s looked at my social media they’ve seen a Squadshot, like a look at the interface.
ZACH: Yeah. The Squadcast is a cloud recording studio. So we help podcasters and video creators and content creators, like connect with their guests, or their co-hosts, or their bigger team, or their production team to collaborate on creating studio quality content without the need for physical studios and infrastructure and coordinating getting in, in one location with multiple people. As podcasts and content creation continues to scale, like our reach with who we can interview geographically also needs to scale. And physical studios, they might help one person in your conversation sound good, but are everybody that you’re talking to and wanting to create content with in these physical studios, like as we are more and more remote and distributed, probably not. And we still want to sound and look our best in the content that we’re creating for our audience and, and for companies to grow and monetize and all of those things, the quality really matters to those products. So that’s what we help content creators do is, is create. Create quality without needing to be in the same location.
RABIAH: Great. Yeah. And I can attest to that, and I think I started my podcast during the pandemic, so there was no way to even talk to anyone in person. And a lot of my contacts have been from the States, but I’ve even interviewed people in countries outside of London, where I live. So what, yeah, it’s been great. And it’s just been really kind of just an enabler for me to be able to keep doing it. So what made you start the company though? How did that come about?
ZACH: Yeah, we, it was kind of a pivot. We originally wanted to make a podcast. And wanted to do like a science fiction audio drama, which was ambitious and, uh, still feels kind of new in podcasting…fiction. But it’s just like totally blew my mind. When I first heard about like ars PARADOXICA or The Bright Sessions. I was like, wow. If my podcast app was a bookstore the day before it would have been all nonfiction. And then all of a sudden, There’s this other side of the coin: fiction. And it was like, wow, that’s like a complete new embodiment of what could be a podcast. And I wanted to do a creative side project. I went to art school and had kind of an amateur art career in my past. So wanted to kind of do something new and creative. And my, my brother’s an audio engineer, my best friend’s a pretty decorated storyteller. And we just wanted to do something in scifi and audio. But the catch was is that we are in different locations throughout California and working with voice actors and just kind of putting together a production team to meet the demands of, of a production like that. Um, it became clear to us that getting into the studio was going to be the real bottleneck. Consistency is so important for podcasters and content creators to kind of show up for their audience on a regular basis. And we just, looking at like, the timeline was just like, we’re going to get an episode out every six months or something like that. Um, and that’s really where, at first we were discouraged and then we kinda took a step back and I was, I was frustrated. And started just kind of like writing down what was like…What would I, what would I want if I could record remotely? And I had used Google Hangouts and Skype and meat and stuff like that. I, I did my internship on the Chrome team in 2012, and I kind of saw how modern cloud applications were built. I’m a software engineer and designer in my background. So I started kind of putting together some of those pieces and was like, okay, like a real-time, collaboration is a thing. Audio and video over the web is a thing. Let’s see if we can record it and preserve the quality. That was our primary constraint was we’re a recording studio first, and we’re a conversation platform second. That’s almost, uh, an opposite perspective of Skype or Zoom, right? They’re kind of a conversation platform first, and then recording is like a feature. We focus on recording, right? That’s really what, what customers that collaborate with us at Squadcast. That’s what they’re, that’s the product that they’re, they’re buying. So, um, upholding that quality is really core to what we do. And we have some intellectual property now, fast forward, five years later, we have figured out some really interesting technology solutions that preserve that quality, but also very high reliability recording around the world on different devices and everything that we kind of see on the internet today. So, I’m really stoked for that opportunity to help so many people create their content.
RABIAH: Yeah, well, it’s great. And it’s also, I mean, I did some work in product management in my background and. It became always the question of what problem are we trying to solve? And that’s a question I’ve propagated to any job I’ve had and annoyed people with. Even clients like, well, what problem are you trying to solve? You said you want this website, but what are we doing other than just standing up a website? And so it’s, it’s a good problem that you identified because it’s one that’s just going to continue to exist for people. Right. No matter what. I mean, it’s not going to go away.
ZACH: Yeah. Yeah. It’s pretty far out because it was, it was kind of fringe back then to work remote. And my co-founder Rock kind of reflecting on, on where we’ve come from. He’s noted that we were actually kind of lucky, like you were lucky to be working remote for as long as you have been. And now it’s kind of the normal thing that we’ve gotten a bit more comfortable and confident with as a society. But I still think it takes, it takes time to figure out and change people’s habits and workflows. That’s a really big disruption to not have a commute. And all the things that come from that, the pressure it puts on our home wifi networks and infrastructure kind of on the edges of the network and less so kind of concentrated in our cities is, uh, putting challenges on our infrastructure. So all of those things are super interesting and I’m really grateful that I had the privilege, he had the privilege of, of working remote when it was less of a thing. And it gave us the sense of, like you just said, like it’s gonna be more and more of a thing. We could kind of see that happening a little bit. And then we’re like, well, how are people going to create their podcasts? And back then, it was like, there’s a lot of solo podcasts, but increasingly shows are going to have more and more people involved in them. And that, that alone is probably going to be outside of one city. Or if you’re in LA, then parts of a city, right. Like you’re just getting around. Is just gnarly. So we, we saw that as a, as a pretty big opportunity and it’s kind of like, all right, well, we can collaborate on these word docs, these Google Docs. What would it be like to actually have a collaborative real-time experience like a Google Doc, but for creating audio and video, that was kind of where we were coming from. And it was like, can we, can we do all those things at the same time? Can we make it easy and beautiful? And yeah, that’s really what the work we’re proud to do.
RABIAH: Awesome. One thing about you guys, in my experience as a user of your product, you have a very unique way of having a relationship with your customers I would say. So you have your community manager, Arielle, who’s doing amazing work. I’m learning from her. I switched to marketing relatively recently, and I’ve learned a lot just seeing what she’s doing, because when you’re in certain roles in your company, you can’t just kind of dismiss people. [laughs] You have to listen to them, but you guys are constantly getting ideas for features that people have, and you’re having ideas or very rarely, but there can be an outage or something. And how did you, I guess, what in your background, and then I’ll talk to Rock at some point on the podcast, but in your background kind of made you want to manage in the way that you guys do and set up a culture the way you did. Everyone talks about it, but I feel like you guys walk it, you know?
ZACH: That’s awesome to hear. Thank you. And yeah, it’s really from a kind of a simple place, but it, it, it, it gets complex and requires us to kind of think about things, um, differently. So we’ve all come and work from other companies and other experiences and things like that. And Rock and I, when we started out, we were like, well, it’s going to add more work for us, I guess, like work, you know. But like let’s not carry over things just because from places we’ve come from, let’s kind of ask questions or why things are the way they are. And I had previously worked in the government and Rock had previously worked in accounting. So we kind of saw how things in those spaces were. You know, how governments interact with their constituency and, and things like that. So, I was comfortable with things like public comment, and being transparent and accountable, and all of those things. So we really wanted to have that be in an industry full of people who speak for a living and communicate with, with others. It’s, it’s really awesome because we get to listen, and that’s a huge asset, like a huge superpower of serving podcasters and content creators is that the ideas are very clear, you know, what, what’s helpful to people and what’s not helpful. And you gotta be real with people and, and transparent. So that’s where I think the, the conversations that we’re always striving to have with the community and helping people succeed outside of just remote recording. Right. We, we have a lot of content that we create that is, I would say bigger than just aimed at helping podcasters grow their show in one way or another. Like with improv as an example. Or equipment and some of the data that we can bring into the conversation is, is something that I’m really proud of that we’ve been able to, to do things differently. And I also think having a platform that helps people communicate can help us communicate with those people. Right? So you mentioned it being meta earlier that we’re recording on Squadcast, like helping people record through the platform. Like we use the platform to talk to people and that’s how other people use it too. So it’s really awesome. And that wasn’t always obvious, um, to us and it’s, it’s really awesome. I don’t, I don’t know that we could have foreseen that, but I’m glad that it’s part of our, part of our the journey.
RABIAH: Yeah. It’s good. You’re using the-you don’t go. We didn’t go. Oh, let’s meet on Zoom. Let’s have a chat on Teams. Teams is the one that’s killing a lot of us. It’s almost like you can just use it as it’s an ex-in a way, oh, I have a cough. Oh, I was on Teams either way. I’m not gonna, be there either way.
ZACH: Oh, that’s great. [laughs]
RABIAH: Not that Teams isn’t great. But, but it’s been hard at work. So sometimes I do think of, oh, just wanna hop onto my Squadcast.
ZACH: It’s interesting too, because like at first there was really just Skype. And it was like, all right, what can we do in there? But over time, I think it really is just what can we do…What are interesting applications that have conversations? We think of the conversation as, as kind of our platform. And then we build applications and technology on top of that, that help people capture it and preserve the quality to have reliable backups and, and then kind of mixing and mastering. And then people wanted video recording. So, so we added video recording and, and on and on and on. It’s just been a, really, a really great experience. And every version that we release is more and more informed by the community. And I, I love that about what we do every day.
RABIAH: Yeah. I mean, it’s definitely, you can definitely see it too as a user. So how do you personally handle… I don’t know. I’ll just tell you for me, my experience is: I don’t take criticism very well, very often. I’m getting better at it because I’ve gotten to be an adult, I guess. In my forties, I’ve decided to be an adult about things. But how do you kind of set up boundaries for yourself? I mean, I’m thinking about if there’s someone listening who is a founder or maybe who is in a similar role to you anyway, like on the technology side, because there’s always going to be problems in software, and my friends and I all complain all the time about things. Do you have any useful things you’ve done to just kind of draw boundaries to like either say, you know, that’s not a reflection of me, that’s just the product or whatever?
ZACH: Yeah, yeah. I mean, that’s a big part of it. And I did identify with my, the things that I’ve helped create for, for a long time. And I still find myself doing it in interesting ways. And yeah. You learn a lot working with as many people as our technology can, can serve and scale, right. I went to art school and studied design and user experience, and how to build those things with technology. And there’s this foundation of empathy, of putting yourself in other people’s shoes. And then how does somebody on a very tiny mobile phone on a, on a 3G connection experience this technology? How does somebody in an office building that’s plugged in experience this technology? And you kind of like put on these different hats and walkthrough it. But, I don’t know that there’s any amount of education…There’s just a ton of variability out there in the world. So working with people across languages and across time zones. And interesting one to me is that there’s different in different cultures, it’s much, conversation is much more acceptable, normal, let’s say to speak over one another and…that impacts audio quality in some ways. And I, when I first started out building Squadcast, I, I probably would’ve said something naive. Well, probably try not to speak over other people. And that’s just one example of like, well, that’s totally legit and in some cultures. So how does, how do we evolve our experience to, to meet those people where they’re at? I feel like I, I try to cultivate empathy, and I would have said when coming out of college, or even in a few years thereafter that I had a pretty good understanding of how people use technology. I’ve learned a tremendous amount in the five years of Squadcast to, uh, extend that empathy in a number of different ways. And it’s really helped shape our, shape our product and, and just make it more resilient. It’s led to one of our patents, is totally around reliability in less than ideal internet connection environment. So that’s something that I think, um, was, was kind of a real-world constraint and looking, looking at head-on and trying to say like, what can we build with, with taking that into account? So I’m really proud of the ways that it’s kind of pushed us to, to grow. But I do think there, there are needs for, for boundaries, right? To your point, I try to cultivate like a, have a lot of intention with the media that I consume and like my notifications. And so I really value focus. And when you’re on the internet, as much as somebody like me is, right. That can be, that can be a lot. I mean, for, for everybody, it’s already a lot. Right. So I think that’s where having, having some, some boundaries is really critical, especially, you know, my, my wife and I welcomed our, our first child into the world a few months ago and carving out key time. It’s really critical, the time to, to have for, for family, especially at these developmental stages is just really critical. So that’s something else that I’m learning to prioritize and balance with having a growing start-up and a team and community and all of that. Yeah.
RABIAH: Yeah. And congratulations by the way!
ZACH: Thank you, thank you. I really appreciate that. It’s been really fun.
RABIAH: That’s awesome. Yeah. Yeah. And you were well, and I wanted to talk a little bit about that and I just, I shared with you before we started recording, and I’ll just share now. I mean, I’ve been home and I think I’m still on the fence about skipping this week. I might just still throw an episode out there of just me in a little bit for this week. Otherwise I’ll skip it.
ZACH: It’s the holidays.
RABIAH: But it is interesting when you, yeah. It’s the holidays and I’m traveling and I’m with my family. I haven’t been with my family in almost two years. I’m kind of going, I want to be present with them, but I have all these obligations I’ve created for myself in the absence of human contact.
ZACH: Yeah, yeah. You could use up that space, right? Like in our calendar and stuff, I went into San Francisco with Rock a few weeks ago, and both of us were talking about that and was like, wow. I feel just like the getting there. And coming back takes up a huge amount of my day. Even though we live right across the Bay from it, all that space just got taken up with meetings and events and work and yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s weird kind of on the other side of that. Right. Wow. Now I have these obligations. Yeah.
RABIAH: Yeah. And so you have, you have like your new kid and you’re trying to spend time, which is good. And that’s, that’s the right priority to have. How was it going on paternity leave? Like I’ve talked to women about parenthood, and I had a Mother’s Day special, but I didn’t do that with fathers. And so for you, it’s your first time being a dad, right?
RABIAH: So what was that like? Just as a company, founder, and an officer in your company and everything going on paternity leave. And how was that experience important for you?
ZACH: Yeah, it was a bit, it’s a bit daunting to kind of approach like we, I wanted to, to do six weeks. Right. And that’s all, that’s a lot. It’s not really, but it is right. And both things are true.
RABIAH: In our culture, it is.
ZACH: Exactly so, that, that meant a lot to, to me and my family. So that’s the longest I’d ever been…I would ever be away from the company and, what I focused on was like, okay, we can start to make moves in design. It’s actually a really great design constraint for companies to not include their founders and everything. And as we’ve grown, right, we’ve embraced that more and more. And latitude and autonomy and decision-making for our team. And I very much view leadership as empowering other people’s leadership. So that’s kind of the context, but also we knew we needed to make some key hires. So we, we did that. I’m proud to say that we, we grew the team quite a lot this year and, um, and in a lot of different ways. And that was incredibly helpful for me to, to have the confidence that things were going to stay on track with our roadmap and our, our ambitions and the ways we want to keep growing. So that, and I have, I have the team is, is awesome overall, and we’ve, we’ve grown the team. And, and then Rock is my co-founder and, and he’s awesome. And we compliment each other in a lot of ways. So I wasn’t really too, too worried beyond kind of making some, some key hires, which for a mostly bootstrapped startup was like, okay, we’re going to grow our team and scale and want to bring on some really critical roles. So to be able to do that was, um, really, really awesome. We, we, for the most part in our, in our journey, our five-year, five years we’ve been doing this, that we’ve been pretty much the same kind of core founding team, but to basically double that gave me a lot of confidence to step away for six weeks and come back to a, uh, more well-oiled machine on the other side of it.
RABIAH: Yeah. Which is interesting too, when things run without you right? It’s that whole oh, okay. They can do it, which is good. But, you know, it takes a minute to just kind of embrace that in a way. It did, for me, when I had a team, it was. Oh, yeah, they’re fine without me, but that’s because they’re empowered.
ZACH: So, yeah, exactly. And I kind of set a constraint for myself was like, okay, well I can do like asynchronous stuff, right? Like if they ask me questions or whatever. So I basically kept it to all, all async with the exception of, we had a DNS service provider outage in the middle of it, and I had been the one who set it up like five years before. So I stepped in and made that, made that right. It was time sensitive. So thankfully my, my wife and, and kid were cool with that.
RABIAH: That’s good. Yeah. Get the kid on it right away. So just moving away from Squadcast a little bit, but still kind of just staying with it. You have, you work with family too, right? Like part of your organization are family members. So you can talk, talk a little bit about that. Your dad and brother, I think.
ZACH: Yeah. So my brother Vince and my dad Vince. Senior and junior. Yeah. So my, my brother was, I mentioned before was part of our, part of our original story of trying to create this audio drama. He’s, uh, he’s an audio engineer and sound designer and, and does all of our productions at Squadcast. We’re also a content company. We have our podcast Between Two Mics. We produce videos, we do webinars, we do a bunch of stuff. And Vince is the head of our production. As well as the head of our support. So when you’re talking to our Squadcast support team, you have audio engineers who are helping you. So that’s really, really important part of the work that we do. And yeah, I’m really grateful that his skills can help other people grow their skills and help out anybody who needs it. And then yeah, producing content weekly is, is, is a lot of fun, and he helps manage that, that process. So he’s four years older than me. And we are into a lot of the same stuff. So it’s, it’s really great to be able to, um, to work, with work with my brother every day. And then my, my dad is also on our team, Vince Sr. And he works on our kind of data and analytics. He’s got a long time background in that space and we publish our pod-remote podcast stats report frequently. And that has a bunch of interesting data about like equipment that people are using. Uh, when they’re recording and how long they’re recording with, and we’re even going to do our version of like Spot-we’re big fans of Spotify Wrapped. So we’re doing a squad cast wrapped, and it’ll be a bit personalized with like how much Rabiah has recorded this year and with how many people. And most popular microphones and stuff like that. So a lot of that work comes from, comes from Vince Sr. Yeah.
RABIAH: Cool. And did you with your dad, especially like, is that I know you, so I will plug definitely Between Two Mics is a cool podcast and we’ll talk a little bit more about it. And he was on an episode talking about working with his sons, but as far as just working with family, so you’re working with a good friend of yours, Rock and then family. Does that ever cause anything that’s difficult for you or are you just kind of, you guys just roll with it?
ZACH: Yeah. I mean, we we’re, we’re all pretty chill. I think that helps a lot we’re, we’re… I would say we focus on being strong listeners and strong communicators. That’s a big part of it. When you’re with a remote team overcommunicating can, can really help avoid kind of miscommunications. But then also when we, when we are doing, uh, things with our family being intentional to like probably not talk about Squadcast. My sister-in-law, Lindsay, my mom and my wife, Becca. They probably don’t want to hear about Squadcast, like all the time. Right. So that’s where we try to, to have some, some boundaries and separation there too. Family vacations are interesting because it can be, it can be kind of hard to get all three of us away from our computers. So we, we all love, and we grew up, we love camping. So it’s, it’s pretty tough for us to, to unplug to that degree, but we’ve gotten better at it and find-finding ways to do that. So. It’s, I mentioned coming from a background in government, I’m also mindful of nepotism and I, I have seen kind of what can happen there. And that, that’s what I would say I had the majority of my kind of anxiety around when we were first starting out. It’s tough to find people to work on these big ambitious projects with you and take that on. And I, when it was originally starting out, yeah, my dad was just kind of helping us here and there, and he’s retired. So it was like, he probably wants to be retired, but he loves what he does. And, I it’s, it’s inspiring to me because I’ve seen a number of times throughout my career, now. There seems to be kind of this assumption that like technology is for younger people and that that’s, who really things are designed for and thrive with. And I, I was talking about user experience design before, and I think that’s kind of like, that’s true to some degree, but you know, we’re also designing for, for people from diverse backgrounds. And I’ve really seen my dad and also then my mentor when I did my internship were both like, I would say, older people and embracing very, very modern technologies that like didn’t exist a few months ago. Oh, like really moving at that pace is like very inspiring to me. And to be able to work with my dad. He introduced me to the internet right when I was like four or five years old. So pretty, pretty core to my origin story, let’s say. And I think it’s just like talking to my dad as my dad sometimes and talking to my brother as my brother sometimes. And then we, we work really well together and we have a high degree of autonomy and like, uh, Vince has his whole support team and works with a lot of people in our production. So I love it, that we get to work together. Like it’s just, it’s, it’s different. So I don’t think I want like my whole family, like a whole family business to necessarily work together. That, that would have some interesting challenges, but, but with my dad and my brother. I mean, we’re all, uh, thankfully I’ll say they’re very talented at what they do. So it made kind of my, my choice, the only parts that were complicated about my choice of, of bringing them onto the team was managing kind of the family balance and, and, you know, making sure that that was kind of designed and not just assumed everything was going to be perfect and keep going. So I think that it’s really important that we, we have a strong friendship too, I’ll say. So that helps. Yeah.
RABIAH: That’s, that’s great though. I think it’s really cool that you guys do that. And then there’s the different skill sets between you.
ZACH: I mean, Vince is the only reason I have any degree of confidence, like starting working on digital audio processing. Uh, he’s a, he’s a sound engineer, and I’m a software engineer. And this application is he, he helped…when I was talking about quality before. Right. That’s how we knew what quality meant and how we could measure it and have any degree of kind of confidence about our decisions. So, while, I, I’m the primary like architect of our software. A lot of that is critical. To just making sure that we’re, we’re producing quality content.
RABIAH: For sure. And you mentioned that you were an art major, so are you still doing art in any form and what kind of art I guess I should ask, but then are you still doing anything with art outside of work?
ZACH: So I very much look at my, my career in software and in design as an extension of, of the work that I had done before. When I was in school, I had an amateur art career and was in a number of art shows and won some awards and sales and stuff. And that was totally like the direction I was, my career was moving in and. And then I found kind of what was possible on, on the web. And that is like an, a growing list of what’s possible on the web. So coming from a background of having social anxiety disorder and depression, I really found it was very helpful to have practices in my life where I had things that I would look forward to. And, in the web and software engineering, there’s always new stuff that is being built. And it’s all, it’s almost a joke in like the web development community that like, oh, there’s a new framework, like every day. And I, that’s true to, to an extent there’s some truth to that, but it’s also part of the, what I love and why I think it’s, it’s fitting with my personality to, to, to work in a space like this. Whereas the innovation in art is there’s more like arrows and things like that of, of what, what has happened in the past. But to see what’s happening now with kind of the intersection of art and technology with, with blockchain and crypto, with NFTs, is like really, really awesome to, to see happening. And, and, and how quickly that artists are building sustainable careers from it. I guess, sustainable we’ll see in the long term. But the reason I say that is because there’s royalties that can be baked into NFTs whereas that’s not a thing in physical art. So hopefully that’s the, the, the experiment, right. That’s ongoing. But yeah, I design, I, I create things, but I don’t paint or draw on a daily basis. Like I, I had, I had a practice where I safe to say it, dedicated several hours a day to either drawing and or painting, and also did sculpture. And I just got my mom a pottery wheel for, for a gift. So I’m excited to try that out with her pretty soon. And I’ve done a few paintings here and there, like mostly as gifts. I think when it comes to digital art, I focus more like on photography and, and doing kind of generative art through programming. And just kind of exploring what’s possible there as well as I feel like Squadcast…I can, it’s kind of like infinite in the ways that we can express ourselves. Like we make so much stuff. It’s awesome. And that’s kind of what I try to focus on is what are we, what are we making? What do we make? We make the software, but the software helps people make audio and video. And that’s super cool to us. I try to balance out like this invisible ratio of creation and consumption in my life. It’s kind of an impossible feat because you have to get inspiration from somewhere to create stuff, but I try to balance it out. And Squadcast is the closest I’ve come to that because we get to help people…Our creation gets to help people create stuff. So I think that’s really, really awesome part of it.
RABIAH: Yeah, no, it’s true. And it is interesting. I mean, I think people don’t see software…Cause there’s this whole idea and I’m just being very, I’m just going to throw generalizations or throw stereotypes out there, which we’re not supposed to do. But I think maybe around jobs we can do that. I don’t know. But with software engineers, I mean, a lot of people see them as just kind of maybe introverts who just want to be at their computer and want to be left alone, but don’t realize that they’re also creative people. And they, a lot of the guys I work with, do really cool things, actually, outside of development. Because it lets them bring more into their work, but there’s a certain amount of creativity in just figuring out how to solve a problem with code, right?
ZACH: Oh yeah. It’s totally an evolution. And for me, like the, the visual is, a big part of it, like a lot of times I’ll catch myself just kind of staring at stuff that we designed. And that’s kind of how I know in the past, like when I would do stuff like that, it was like, that’s how I know like my painting or piece was done. So I feel like I get that same feeling from the, the software experiences that we create for people. And there they have the added benefit of being interactive and we can, can just do increasingly amazing things for people. So that’s where I, that’s where I think about it. Is there it’s, it’s intensely creative. There’s parts of it that aren’t. And I think that’s sort of like. Some roads into software are more like math background. I came more from this art background, and I know people who have kind of come from a number of different backgrounds. And I have seen some of those patterns and have definitely worked with people who are much more introverted. I would, I would categorize myself as, as introverted, but I even a lot of the personal work that I’ve done, I’ve gotten much more comfortable, like speaking and overcoming some of my anxieties for the most part. Occasionally things, things are fluid, but I think I’ve been able to grow some skills that have really helped in that regard. And just, it’s awesome too, to have communication skills that I, I was, didn’t in the past and had struggled with things. So it’s really empowering being able to talk to so many people and, and meet with so many people and, and build cool stuff together. That’s kind of, what’s, what’s interesting to me in the art piece of. And, and the different personalities are really big part of software engineering, at least, at least from my perspective. But I think there’s many roads into software engineering. And software engineering simultaneously, software is impacting more and more of people’s kind of surface area in their lives. With internet of things and with all these different electric cars, like regular cars, these are are all computers these days. So it’s, it’s really awesome. Being a software engineer in yeah, 2022. You could kind of work in anything because everything has an element of software. Including, including art. So yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s great to see kind of a renaissance happening there. And I’m still trying to find a way where it makes sense for me to, to participate in, in the NFT space. And I have, I started a podcast called the Crypto Art Show, and my co-host had to step away after…like I had to step away for, for a family leave for paternity leave and then knd of life happened on her end. So we’re, we’re finding a way to bring that, bring that back around, but I had a ton of fun making, making those, those episodes. And I still follow it quite closely, and I’m like have a list of research and stuff. So I might, I might put out some solo episodes. I’m not sure I’ve, I’ve put out a few feelers to like find a co-host and cause I really thrive in conversations, compared to something solo. That seems kind of weird to me. So I dunno, you make it look easy. But the that’s a challenge for me and find, find ways to participate in that space. Cause it’s really thriving right now.
RABIAH: Yeah. Oh it is for sure. And just even it’s kinda like no one has a full understanding of it. Which is kind of cool. So one thing you did mention was anxiety and depression. It’s something I’ve talked about on the podcast before for myself. And even you saying you’re an introvert, but you’ve learned. I learned that I was an introvert probably when I was about 32 or something. And I told my mom, Hey, this one guy said, I’m actually an introvert. She goes, well, yeah. You used to just sit in your room by yourself and read, and then come out and talk and then go back in there. And she’s, but you’ve always then talked to people and it’s, it’s funny. The intro-the idea of an introvert is different than what I thought it was from me, but also I’ve got the anxiety thing and the depression thing. And so what have you, how has it played a role..Some of it, I feel like it benefits me in a way, but how has it played a role in your life and how have you like, kind of whatever you want to talk about, worked through some of those things to be able to even do a podcast, because this could really cause both of us a problem at some point.
ZACH: Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. Getting up on stages, stuff like that. It can be, can be nerve wracking. And it’s a challenge that I really like kind of the idea of working to overcome. So I think that’s part of it for me. Reframing it has helped quite a lot, but it’s even before I was doing anything kind of any, anything close to this substantial…Definitely had, you know, anxiety and depression on a, on a, on an ongoing regular basis. And I would say, I mentioned having things to look forward to as, as being, being helpful there. But just other things that were helpful to kind of help me gain perspective and kind of look at things a little bit differently was one: some, some really talented people who worked at my high school, who, who I would talk to on a regular basis. But also also the practice of meditation and yoga. I think both of those really, really integral for me. And it’s a trip because I, I looked at it as some sort of alternative to medication back then, because that’s how it was presented to me. But what I didn’t realize was like that if you, if I kept practicing it, that it wasn’t just, okay, now I can get to some like plain of normalcy in how I interact with the world or see myself in the world or other people in the world or whatever, or how heavy everything feels. What I didn’t understand is that the practice of meditation would kind of carry me beyond that, that plane of normalcy into places that I didn’t even really expect myself to, to be cool with going. So that’s what I would say about the audacity to start a company or, or beyond podcasts and stages and stuff like that, um…Really comes from, from, for me, knowing that I’ve overcome some, some challenging shit in my life. And, and that makes me feel like I can, I can continue to challenge myself and, and have some degree of confidence that, that I’ll be able to work through things. So that’s what I’ve come to really embrace the challenges that are in my life and, and, and quite honestly go looking for them as an entrepreneur and figure out ways to, to help people solve them. So that’s, that’s gives me a ton of energy and that’s another way that I look at this as like, where, where do I get my energy? I definitely find myself needing space to recharge where I’m not on, like performing, let’s say all the time. And then it’s interesting going to a podcast conference because it there’s a lot of podcasters who I’ve met, identify as introverts. But then we all go to these conferences where there’s like a couple thousand people and it’s, what are we doing? Are we, we, we have conversations on the internet, like? Why would it that, how does that make sense? That like somebody who identifies as introvert, that’s like an ongoing thing that they do. And I think it’s, it’s, it’s a way for, for myself at least to, to have. Because this conversation’s just the two of us. Right? But I’m not thinking necessarily about it while we’re talking about how many people are going to listen to it. Right? Like those two things are separate from one another in podcasting. And I think that helps a lot of people. Cause it can be daunting getting on like a Facebook live or a webinar or something like that and see 700 people on there or walking into, walking into a conference and getting on a stage with a room with a thousand people. Like in podcasting, those are kind of separate. And then you can, after the fact, look at it and be like, wow, that’s cool. A couple thousand people listen to that. That’s what’s up, but I didn’t need to like necessarily get in front of that many people. So I think that’s one of the reasons that like podcasting can be attractive to, to introverts. And then just kind of, I love how, uh, podcast events now, uh, have started to kind of design this into their tracks and having space for side conversations. And, yeah, having it designed into their experiences that, Hey, a lot of people here are going to be introverts, not everybody who goes through a conference is going to be an extrovert. And, uh, and I, I love seeing that.
RABIAH: Yeah, cool. No, that’s, that’s cool. And I like how you framed quite a lot of that, actually, even just the whole overcoming things, because the anxiety and depression, at least for me, and I think for a lot of people, they still are there and they’re part of my life. But it’s like the cons-like the overcoming and the knowledge that I did it before. So I can go get through this situation, but it’s hard sometimes for people to celebrate the, yeah. I’ve overcome it even though it’s still present.
ZACH: It sounds weird hearing me say now that I, I’m past anything because yeah, I, I, it, it it’s, I don’t know that that’s, that’s, I’m always an addict, I guess there’s one way to say it. Right. It’s that, it’s just, it was just part of who I am. So I’ve embraced that part of my identity and, and it’s not, it’s not all of my identity though, in the same way that Squadcast, isn’t all of my identity. So I think that’s that space is, is healthy.
RABIAH: Right. Yeah, that’s good. And I, I just liked the way that that was framed a lot. And, and then it enabling you like the practices, you’re doing the mindfulness practices, getting you to different places. So that’s just, I like to call it things I want people to take away sometimes, but those are two that’s hit me just now. Another thing is you’re a founder of a company. You’re also a person of color and there may be, at least in the past, and I think it’s still like that…Not that many people who may be are like you who are founding companies. And so had, have you found mentors who are also people of color in this space or have you found people coming and talking to you? And how has that experience been?
ZACH: Yeah, a bit of both. Yeah. And it was surprising to me. I, this is data that I was unaware of. I had the privilege of being unaware of and just kind of walking blindly. Oh, I can come from a Latinx background and start a software company. No big deal. Everybody does that all the time. Right. Like I just kind of did that and then found out a few months later. Oh, that’s pretty rare. The, the data is so clear that there is a dramatic under-representation of founders of color, women, founders, LGBTQ+ founders. Like there’s just shockingly few, shockingly little diversity in, in the founder community and yeah, I’m, I’m, I’m really proud to have been kind of in some conversations as a resource for, for founders who have those exact questions and, and want to want to do something cool. And then also our founding advisor, Harry Duran, I think that was part of the, our original conversation was like, Hey, there’s not a ton of people who look like us in this space. Let’s, let’s kind of explore that and see how we can help each other and to kind of get, get his help so early on was, was super impactful. And Adriana, one of our advisors, I would say the same is true for her. And she’s got this really awesome background like in the investment space, but for founders from different backgrounds. And like that she’s able to do that work. I think it says is a sign of the times and, and that, that, that Rock and I exist and are from the backgrounds that we are. It’s a, it’s really awesome. And I, I try to communicate that and get that message across in a lot of the presentations I do quite frankly, like I was just privileged and had the opportunity to speak at the Afros & Audio podcast conference. And that was one of the things that I communicated to them was like, just completely aside from my presentation and everything I’m here to talk about today. If you’ve ever thought about founding something, I mean, we are kind of founders of a podcast, right? If you think, you think about it that way, there’s a lot of parallels between being a podcaster or in a, and being a founder. So I think it’s just kind of a micro-media company instead of a, instead of a software company. So that’s where I always like to encourage people if you’ve ever had any kind of thought of, oh, I might want to do something like, please do it or talk to somebody about doing it. And that’s the space for that opportunity exists. And I think we need to, to embrace that. So it’s been really awesome to meet and connect with so many founders like here in the Bay Area that are from, from different backgrounds and have ongoing like conversations and dinners with supporting each other there. Yeah it’s, it’s, it’s a really big part of the experience that, yeah, I was just completely blind to before we, we started it. So I’m incredibly grateful for all of that.
RABIAH: When I have to think that the whole idea, and as a woman who’s worked in technology for a long time. I’ve been the only woman in the room quite often, but then I do recognize that I’m also white. I have had to learn about people in order to have empathy for them, because I would not realize what they were going through. I would know my trepidation and being entering a room and being the only woman or going on a business trip, being the only woman, everyone wants to go do, you know? I don’t know if I’m going to reveal any secrets about business trips, but a lot of guys go to strip clubs like on business trips, and then it’s just those kinds of things where it doesn’t fit with you. But then when I think about just other, other things, I think it has to, you talked about empathy very early on, but I think having an experience that is different from others, possibly, in different parts of your life as a child and onward would probably help you be more understanding about that. Even with like looking at languages or cultures or whatever. Because a lot of us, especially I’ll just speak for white people because I can, we just see what, what is our experience. And it’s pretty, with the exception of socioeconomic differences, which are huge. And they, they’re a big thing that people don’t talk about that much. It’s pretty easy just to walk through the world, you know.
ZACH: One of the things that stood out to me is it helps me to kind of reframe what’s, what’s hard because there’s a lot of hard things what we do. And I think that’s true for most people, but like hard, hard is relative. Right? And one of the things that, that helps me is that what I’m doing is hard, but at the end of the day, like I’m incredibly lucky to sit at a computer and work with a remote team and have all these amazing people contributing to what we’re trying to build. And like my grandparents like totally worked in the field. Right. And their parents totally worked in the, in the fields. And there’s a lot of people who are currently today working in the fields. And to me, that’s hard. Right. So even that, when I’m having like the worst day ever, I’m like, all right, I didn’t pick any beets today. And I don’t have chemical burns on my shins. Right. I’m going to go like eat dinner and take a shower. I’m incredibly lucky. So I think that’s an element of it too, where no growing up in a background where it, yeah, we didn’t, we didn’t have a ton of resources that that’s, there’s some, there’s some skills in that. And that’s, you know what, I’ve tried to kind of communicate to, to younger people who talked to me about entrepreneurship and leadership and stuff like that. It’s like being broke is kind of a skill. So maybe cultivate that and embrace it like that, that, that can help you later on.
RABIAH: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. So I guess last thing, I mean, I have a set of questions called the five 5 but the first thing I just want to let you talk about your podcast really quick on my podcast. So Between Two Mics, which reminds me of Between Two Ferns, quite a bit. The show, doesn’t, don’t worry if people are like what this guy turns into Zach Galifianakis? Not really.
ZACH: Yeah, Between Two Mics is our podcast where Rock and I talked to people in the podcast space, whether it’s connected to Squadcast as a customer or somebody who came up with a good idea or people innovating within podcasting one way or another, and really kind of focus on what’s possible in the space of podcasting. And that’s really where the innovation takes place. So we focus on companies and creators that are doing really interesting things. And then also talk about our thoughts with things that are changing and evolving. Like how things are evolving in podcasting is very interesting to us and we’re proud to play, play a role in that. So, um, this new category that we’re working to define and create. The cloud recording studio is evolving really rapidly, and there’s other people who are innovating in across podcasting, whether it be on the content side, the consumption side, technology, events and community. There’s just a ton of really interesting work going on. So we’re, we’re proud to have those conversations on, on Between Two Mics.
RABIAH: I just have a set of questions called the fun five that I ask every guest. The first one is: What’s the oldest t-shirt you have and still wear?
ZACH: I have some t-shirts from high school, uh, from, yeah, those painting classes with a ton of paint splattered all over myself. Yeah.
RABIAH: Nice. Those are fun. All right. And if everyday was really Groundhog’s Day, like it’s felt like for a while, what would be the song you have your alarm clock play every morning?
ZACH: “Sad People” by Kid Cudi.
RABIAH: Okay. [Zach laughs] Cool. All right. Well, that’ll get on the Spotify playlist. Awesome. And then coffee or tea or neither?
ZACH: Both. So, uh, I really love coffee and, uh, and then I’ve been drinking more tea lately. Yeah.
RABIAH: Cool. All right. And then can you think of something that just makes you laugh so hard when you think about it, you just crack up or something that happened maybe even recently that just made you like laugh so hard you cried.
ZACH: It’s pretty funny to see, see our son laugh. I think, see, seeing him laugh at stuff that I didn’t even see as funny is like really funny to me. Yeah.
RABIAH: Yeah. They, they can point things out for you. And then the last one: Who inspires you right now?
ZACH: Carl Sagan. Yeah. Carl Sagan, brilliant science communicator, a brilliant scientist of many things. Right. Early climate activist. So I think, yeah, I’m always learning stuff about his work and trying to use it to inspire some of mine..
RABIAH: Cool. All right. And where do you want people to look you up?
ZACH: Yeah, you can, uh, connect with us @squadcastfm or at, uh, squadcast.fm is our website. And myself, I’m Zach with an “h” Z-A-C-H_Moreno on Twitter. Um, and yeah, that’s the best place to connect with me. And, uh, if you’re looking at starting a podcast or anywhere in that podcasting journey, we’d love to help.
RABIAH: Awesome. Well, thanks, Zach. I really appreciate you being on.
ZACH:Thank you, Rabiah. I really appreciate it. It’s been a lot of fun.
RABIAH: Thanks for listening. You can learn more about the guest and what was talked about Joe Maffia created the music you’re listening to. You can find him on Spotify at Joe, M-A-F-F-I-A. Rob Metke does all the design for which I am so grateful. You can find him online by searching Rob M-E-T-K-E. Please leave a review if you’d like to show and get in touch. If you have feedback or guest ideas. The pod is on all the social channels at, at More Than Work pod or @rabiahcomedy on TikTok. And the website is morethanworkpod.com. While being kind to others, don’t forget to be kind to yourself.
Arielle Nissenblatt is SquadCast’s Community Manager. She’s obsessed with all things podcast-related and is the founder of EarBuds Podcast Collective, a podcast recommendation engine. In her spare time, Arielle enjoys hosting zoom trivia for friends and strangers all over the world and rollerblading.