Brad March talks to the Founder of Omny.


Personalised radio platforms are now starting to provide more than just music . They are starting to provide a deeper range of content including talent based shows and information as they attempt to replicate some of broadcast radio’s strengths. Australian based Omny is one of those.  

They call it "personalized radio that listens to you". 

I talked with Ed Hooper
 Co founder and CEO of Omny. 


Ed thanks very much for your time. Can you give us the background to how Omny came out?

In early 2012 my co-founder Long Zheng was driving to work and wanted a way to get information and entertainment on the go without having to stare at his phone. After bouncing around potential solutions with both Andrew Armstrong and myself we realised that radio was our best option as we could listen to news, shows and music. However it wasn’t perfect as we wanted only specific pieces that we enjoyed instead of the one size fits all stream that’s aiming to be what’s best for the average listener in each city.

We brainstormed building a platform that would let listeners build their own station made up of only the pieces of radio they love. Once we had this idea we couldn’t stop thinking about it and decided to quit our jobs to work on it full time.

Why did you develop Omny, I gather you saw a gap in the market.

Exactly. We saw a variety of apps that could perform a single function (such as music discovery, or playing a podcast), but couldn’t find one that would combine them to mimic actual radio. While other aggregators distinctly feel like applications, we knew that we could give users a real radio feeling.

 I read that you spent some time in Silicon Valley, in the early days?

Yes, we spent quite a bit of time in the San Francisco Bay Area over the past two years exploring strategic partnership opportunities, pitching investors and meeting with other companies relevant to our cause. It’s a fantastic culture that’s conducive to growth and innovation, so there was no better place in the world for us to spend some time.

Is it fair to say that Omny is one of the first to market talent aggregators?


I understand that SCA has a small stake?

Yes, Southern Cross Austereo strategically invested in Omny in early January. They really understood the potential of our technology right away and wanted to help us achieve our vision. We decided to go with SCA instead of other funding options on the table as they could provided more than money by giving us access to industry expertise, resources and content. I can’t stress enough how great they have been to partner with.

Any other strategic partners?

We also received strategic investment from SingTel (and it’s subsidiary Optus) in 2012 as part of the Optus Innov8 Seed program. Having one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world support us has been really helpful in many ways ranging from piloting test versions of Omny all the way to helping our expansion in to Asia where they have go to market teams on the ground and over 500 million customers.

Are you looking for investors? How do you fund the ongoing growth and expansion given cost of bandwidth and music rights?

We currently have enough investment to last us well into next year, so we’re no longer actively pursuing investment. Now that fundraising is out of our minds, we’re able to really focus on turning Omny into a great product and accurately crafting an authentic radio experience that’s personal.

Could you see a time when Omny ( or another talent platform ) aggregates radio talent shows from all three major networks ?

Yes we could see all three networks joining the same talent aggregation platform in the future but also know it could end up as three separate platforms (iHeart, Rdio and Omny) that include both exclusive network content and syndicated content that’s available on all three (podcasts, ABC etc).

When we strategically partnered with SCA they did not restrict us in any way from working with the other networks as they see the benefits of having an open platform where everyone has a seat at the table. We would warmly welcome the opportunity to work with DMG and ARN as they have a lot of great content that our listeners would enjoy.

What sets Omny apart ? How is it different to other online radio offerings ?

Omny is the only platform that combines music, radio, podcasts, calendar events, email updates, weather and news. No other application on the market has all of these, nor can they eloquently combine them to deliver a radioesque user experience. Omny also has a focus on shorter content, opposed to hour long podcasts, with the intent of allowing users to listen to a radio experience made up of the smaller pieces they want (talk segments, news, traffic, songs etc.).

One of the things I noticed using Omny whilst walking on the beach early one morning, was that the content wasnt time synced and there wasnt any relevant info which we are used to getting on breakfast radio ? Can that be addressed or is it just something users will have to get used to, that its a different experience to broadcast radio ?

This is an issue that we’re working on closely with a number of radio professionals from around the world to solve. We understand the importance of timely morning news, and know that it’s an integral part of any breakfast show. Watch this space, some exciting updates are in store.

Its a terrific product by the way, I found it very user friendly, easy to use.

Thank you! We’ve worked hard to test Omny with actual people to make sure it’s user friendly.

Your three main competitors are Pandora, iTunes and iHeart, how do you compete with those giants?

While they are competitors, we see what we’re doing as a different offering to those three. Each of them effectively does one or a handful of tasks really well, such as playing music or aggregating radio streams. With Omny, we’re creating a complete radio experience that brings together all the different pieces of audio that listeners enjoy in to one personalised stream.

I noticed you have ' Ted ' content on Omny ?

We do. TED Talks are a great example of high quality content that listeners wouldn’t hear on traditional radio but would love to include in their personal station.

When will Omny be available for android users?

The Android app is currently in the early development stages, and we’re looking to have it available in a few months time.

 Do your plans for Omny include overseas markets ?

Omny is currently available in a handful of markets outside of Australia including New Zealand and Hong Kong. We’re looking to expand to the United States in the coming months and have already spent time on the ground working on partnerships.

How many are there in the Omny team ?

Other than Long, Andrew and I, we have three additional employees: two developers and another person in a business development role.

Omny is a free service currently, any plans to add a subscription premium service ?

We don’t have plans of adding a subscription service any time in the near future. We’re currently exploring other revenue generating possibilities.

Can you tell us your user and subscription numbers?

Unfortunately I cant as we keep our numbers private.


What’s your prediction on when you could hit your first million subscribers?

It’s hard to predict as it depends on a large number of factors but id say within the next 18 months is a safe bet.

Good luck with Omny it’s a great product and Im sure has a big future in the personalized radio market. Its great to see innovation from an Australian based company. All the best to you Ed, Long & Andrew. 



Brad March is a Director of Radio Today, is a former CEO and Group Program Director of Austereo and has been named Media Executive of the Year.



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