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May 2013. Sydney. Jane Huxley, Managing Director, Australia & New Zealand, Pandora. (www.milestonesphotography.com.au)

Entrepreneur disrupts the radio industry

In true entrepreneur form, an everyday annoyance blossomed into one of the best loved digital radio applications around.

Entrepreneur Jane Huxley decided to bring Pandora Internet Radio to Australia and New Zealand after listening to one too many bad songs on mainstream radio.

Following its wild success in the US, where it gained over 200 million registered users in just five years, Huxley, now Managing Director of Pandora, Australia and New Zealand, says Pandora is all about playing the music users love and want to hear.

Pandora Internet Radio is an application that can be downloaded on mobile devices or accessed via the Internet on laptops and desktop computers.

The way it works, Huxley explained, is that registered users type the name of a song, genre or artist that they like into the search bar, and Pandora automatically builds a personalised radio station based off that information.

Pandora then starts streaming music, and users can further refine their station by clicking on the thumbs up or thumbs down button to indicate whether the song choice is in line with their personal taste.

Joining Pandora, Huxley explained, hit the mark on many things she loves, from music to digital technology, and the social media culture.

Since launching the company in Australia, she boasts Australians and New Zealanders have been quicker to adopt the application than users in the US.

“Australians and New Zealanders are very much in line with the cultural profits that centre around music and what Pandora has to offer, so the growth of the registered user-base has been phenomenal,” Huxley said.

The premise for growth is quite extraordinary, and according to Huxley every registered user will recruit around eight others, especially given that personalisation is one of the hottest trends in technology today.

“The growth really comes from word-of-mouth … because of this notion of personalisation, people can recommend it to somebody else with the comfort of knowing that it will do for them exactly what they want it to,” she said.

The main method of growing the business is through implementing an advocacy model, where someone reaches out and engages with listeners through social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.

“What’s important to us in is growing a base of loyal listeners that love the product and use it extensively, and we’re well prepared to invest the time and effort that that takes in getting it right,” Huxley added.

The other method they are using to grow the user-base is through distribution and partnership deals with large companies.

“We’ll be on more than 70 percent of all new Holden cars by the end of the year. We’ve partnered with over 20 car manufacturers in the US, and over 1000 consumer electronic devices. We plan to replicate these partnerships in Australia to continue to grow the user-base,” said Huxley.

While the business has enjoyed success since its launch in Australia and New Zealand last year, Huxley explained that there are still challenges to overcome.

“It’s all really challenging. I’m starting this business from scratch, and whilst it’s a start-up here, it is a significant company on the American landscape. In fact, it’s the biggest radio network in America. So the main challenges have been around how to be very small in a very large company,” Huxley said.

Her advice for aspiring business owners is to make sure they’re embarking on a journey they’re truly passionate about. She also believes that it’s important for entrepreneurs to seek advice from those who have walked down the same road before.

“Building that network of people around you who have trodden the same path before and then asking them for help is very important,” she said.

Tasnuva Bindi

Tasnuva Bindi

Tas is a journalist at Dynamic Business. She has a passion for visual and performance arts, feminist politics, and animal rights. In her spare time she likes to paint, write poetry, and read courtroom drama novels.

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