CWRU student starts "Teen Bizness" podcast

By: Yvonne Pan

Have you felt like you've been listening to the same music over and over again since the start of quarantine? First-year student Akansh Devendra felt this way when he turned to podcasts as entertainment for the first time this past July.

His favorites? Ted Radio Hour (the first podcast he listened to), Science Fest and Planet Money. Although he enjoyed them, he noticed a dearth of entrepreneurship, specifically teen entrepreneurship, in podcasting. So, he decided to start his own.

Devendra, with his co-host Vidit Khattar (CWR ‘24), and a team of four others started the weekly podcast, Teen Bizness, in January and have already amassed 1,500 downloads for the first four episodes.

“The only thing that really resonated with me was something on Planet Money, but that was two adults talking about economic issues,” he said. “I browsed the directories and found only one [teen entrepreneurship show] from two years ago.” 

As Devendra continued to research competitors in the market, he discovered Very Young Entrepreneurship hosted by Bob Burg, where Burg talks with young entrepreneurs. Still, though, Devendra and the team felt that it wasn't satisfying the Millennial and Gen-Z experience they were looking for that would come from young entrepreneurs talking with other young entrepreneurs.

“I wanted to cater to millennials [and Gen Z] and wanted the millennial lingo to be communicated between the guests and the hosts,” Devendra said. 

The podcast’s target audience is ages 13 to 24 because Devendra sees that as the primary time when young people start thinking about starting a business or learning about business.

This lack of podcasts focused on teen entrepreneurship wasn’t the only issue Devendra noticed. He uncovered that very few people in India, where he lives, listen to podcasts.

In a survey he conducted among 100 high school students from seven different schools in his hometown of Bangalore, only one said they listened to podcasts and not on a regular basis. To cater to this market, Devendra keeps the podcast to under 25 minutes. He feels it is a good length to accompany chores.

Devendra started to build his team from a teen entrepreneurs Discord channel, settling on a group of five Bangalore high school students. He also cold messaged about 100 entrepreneurs on LinkedIn, inviting them to be a guest for Teen Bizness and about 40 people responded. Devendra was amazed by the interest, citing the lack of credibility of the podcast at the time, and actually had to turn some people down. He narrowed down his current list of guests to about 20 different people, focusing more on entrepreneurs who are about a year into their business.

Devendra is a teen entrepreneur himself. In May of 2020, he founded Spice Kansh, a company that sold karapudi, a blend of 17 different spices, that was made from a family recipe. Through Spice Kanash, he learned about the difficulty of navigating the logistics of a company. Since he was working on the project alone, he was responsible for designing the website, making the product and shipping orders. Devendra ended up cancelling orders outside of Bangalore because he could not ship them and no one would pick them up. Plus, the product could only be made during the summer. After he sold out of the blend in three months, he stopped taking orders.

On Dec. 26, 2020, Devendra and Khattar interviewed their first guest Amooni Raid, an 18-year-old Iraqi entrepreneur and founder of the media agency Stripes Agency, who started his first company when he was 15 years old and is currently juggling three other ventures: The Fern, a pizza restaurant, Malya, a streetwear brand, and Qaysari, an online bazaar.

Even with a steady supply of guests for the podcast, the team still spends an estimated 30 hours on the podcast weekly. Devendra’s responsibilities include editing the audio down from a 45-minute Zoom call to a 15 to 25 minute episode, managing the website and podcast and writing the script with Khattar and two of his script writers. 

Devendra revealed that Spice Kansh was instrumental in helping start The Teen Bizness.

“One thing I didn’t get was growth,” he reflected. “At the end of the day, I feel like growth is more important than the profit you make. When I started making this podcast, I never thought about making money, I just wanted people to listen and grow [the audience],” he said.

The Teen Bizness podcast has weekly episodes and is available on Spotify, Apple, Buzzsprout and other platforms.