Khalid Al-Zanki | Infinity and Beyond

Of all the exciting upstarts and promising ventures that theCITY has had the fortune of sponsoring and supporting, one of our most intriguingly fresh and thoroughly innovative sponsored projects is Khalid Al-Zanki’s rapid-fire, off the cuff radio-style talkshow, LAUNCH ON FIRE! It’s been taking iTunes users and Podcast listeners by storm and, with just a little over two months under it’s belt, LAUNCH ON FIRE has already captured a strong following among listeners and has interviewed 15 to 20 of Kuwait’s brightest, most diverse entrepreneurs every single month. The aim is direct and the method is unconventional. Allowing entrepreneurs to retell their tales of success—which are often built by milestones of hard lessons and humbling failures along the way—while also giving listeners and guests alike an important platform. Through Khalid’s candid approach and extremely stream-lined, accessible process, LAUNCH ON FIRE has the power build a marketplace of ideas and a community of innovators in Kuwait who inspire, grow, and essentially learn from one another not only on how to launch their business; but to launch it into infinity and beyond!

Can you tell us more about the concept behind LAUNCH ON FIRE and how the idea came to you?

The main concept behind the LAUNCH ON FIRE Business Podcast is developing Arabic valuable content based on the Internet and is dedicated to entrepreneurship and marketing; it allows small business owners to reveal their businesses failures, lessons and insights. On the other hand, we’re working so hard to raise awareness, give ideas, and spread information about local entrepreneurs to reflect their stories, ideas, or even information about their experience in business. We launched the podcast on the 23rd of February, 2014 for three major reasons; (1) There is no central database where information about real entrepreneurs is shared, (2) LAUNCH ON FIRE Business Podcast gives people a chance to get to know the entrepreneurs better in Kuwait, and (3) We believe there are common issues, unique stories that are never told, or matters that startups must know.

One of the most new and interesting aspects of LAUNCH ON FIRE is it’s availability as an iTunes Podcast. Why did you think this particular medium was most effective?

Apple’s iTunes Podcast platform has been growing massively in the past several years. Apple has introduced their official Podcasts App. Today, if you’re buy any iOS devices such as an iPad, iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, etc. you’ll have the Podcasts App listed among with must download apps as soon as you login into the Appstore your device. Personally, I believe Apple has developed a wonderful platform to share content with their user-base, also they have a massive number of raving fans using their devices on daily basis, so we have a wonderful platform and great audience. Why not invest some time and resources into building a station where people can listen to our episodes anywhere and anytime? Another piece of similarly related great news is that we’ve been featured on Apple’s iTunes Store as a “New & Noteworthy Podcast.” By the way, Android & iOS users can also download one of the best apps called, “Stitcher.” It is Online Radio Ondemand, and the owners just signed an agreement with major car manufacturers to include the application as part of many future cars dashboards. Also, our audience can “Subscribe” to our podcast on these platforms to get notifications whenever a new episode is released at the moment. Finally, anyone can listen to LAUNCH ON FIRE Podcast via web browsers from any device by visiting our official website

How does LAUNCH ON FIRE differ from any other radio-style talkshow in Kuwait?

LAUNCH ON FIRE doesn’t merely highlight the success of entrepreneurs after reaching a certain level of success; in fact it highlights their failures and lessons as well. No talkshow in Kuwait has the courage to ask failure-based questions to entrepreneurs and business owners. The main aim of LAUNCH ON FIRE is to focus on entrepreneurship and showcase different experiences by interviewing entrepreneurs in diverse sectors to talk about their business journey. Most of entrepreneurs that we’ve interviewed have shared information and stories that we didn’t have the chance to hear in the past. It is not 4-episodes per month! We’ve already reached 15-20 episodes per month, which is awesome! And this is just the beginning, more and more is coming.

Your selection of LAUNCH ON FIRE guests range in a large number of diverse fields and professions. What is the common thread that ties them all together for you?

That’s great question; I love it! Since LAUNCH ON FIRE is a story-based podcast, I got the opportunity to know more about entrepreneurs and their stories. There are many common factors, I will highlight few; (1) They work in and out of their business, (2) They all faced a high level of negative emotions and thoughts throughout their business journey, but they believed in themselves and their ideas, (3) They have the power to improve the business environment in Kuwait, they just need a chance to prove it, (4) They have the willingness to create massive success stories. If our audience listens to at least one podcast a day, then they will find-out more inspiring, common factors between every guest we’ve interviewed.

What topics of discussion do you generally like to focus on with each respective guest?

Currently, LAUNCH ON FIRE Podcast is divided into two main segments: (1) Featured Segment, and (2) Launch Room Segment. We’ve developed main questions to help us discover different moments in an entrepreneur’s journey. We try our best to get as many stories and insights about their business journey, as I mentioned earlier. Our raving fans want to know more about failures, lessons, insights, tips and information about the business world. Yes, it is structured. Sometimes I ask them additional questions based on the interview’s flow. Our mission is to educate, empower, entertain and inspire the audience by spreading knowledge of business, marketing, and what does it take to be an entrepreneur. I believe that the whole concept of listening to the entrepreneur’s stories is interesting, because local entrepreneurs are sharing their experiences, which makes the audience feel connected to the stories being told. Our hope is that the audience will be able to capture ideas and knowledge in the business field and use them to, essentially, launch their own successful business.

Why do you think a radio-style production was the best approach for LAUNCH ON FIRE as opposed to turning into a visual, video interview or into a blog, for example?

Radio-style is the best approach because our audience can listen to LAUNCH ON FIRE Podcast anywhere and anytime. For example; we have people listening to our podcast early in the morning while driving to work, and another group listening during their exercise in the gym. You just connect your device to your car or headphones and enjoy the podcast. LAUNCH ON FIRE Podcast is a new method that is being used professionally for the first time in Kuwait. It has quickly created a buzz surrounded by our raving fans and the business community in Kuwait. We’re studying video-style interviews, and many great ideas as an extension of LAUNCH ON FIRE. Just keep an eye on what’s coming next. Great surprises are on the horizon.

How have you found the reception from audience members and listeners to LAUNCH ON FIRE so far?

It’s been awesome! The audience and listeners are reacting in a really positive way, which is making us more committed and energized to provide them with more. Our raving fans are always sending messages or leaving comments expressing how happy and excited they are about each episode. The feedback is the most important part to us. It makes us hear people’s opinions which help us to improve and develop more valuable content in the LAUNCH ON FIRE Podcast. The overall feedback is pushing us to compete on a worldwide level, and even in building a state-of-the-art studio.

What do you most hope listeners will take away from each LAUNCH ON FIRE podcast?

We developed the whole concept of LAUNCH ON FIRE around two main segments: entrepreneurs and listeners. Most of the entrepreneur’s stories are interesting because local entrepreneurs are sharing their experiences, which make the listeners feel connected to the stories being shared and helps them directly relate. Personally, I believe if our listeners capture at least few ideas from the episodes, write them down, and then use what they learned or captured from the podcast in future situations or businesses they could truly get a lot out of it. Outstanding listeners usually take massive action to put knowledge, experience, and skills that they absorb from those around them into practice for themselves. The most rewarding feeling is making a difference in people’s lives. Using information and experience we’ve captured and presented an important tool for our listeners, which we hope they will find very useful and will benefit them greatly. It is a shared responsibility between the LAUNCH ON FIRE team and our listeners. We produce great content, and they commit to using what they captured to improve their life or business.

What do you hope to achieve through LAUNCH ON FIRE in the long run?

I hope that LAUNCH ON FIRE will spread the knowledge, edify, and give power to the entrepreneurs in Kuwait at every level and every sector. Currently, we are working on taking our podcast to a totally new level. We’ll announce the next big thing when we’re ready; our focus group is working on new innovative ideas. We’re working hard to be different, and as I always say: “Different is greater than better.” I believe we have an instinctive understanding of not only of where technology is going but also what makes people want to follow it. We do what we love, and integrate our passion with our initiative. We understand desire! Personally, I’m trying to make the business environment in Kuwait a more open place. LAUNCH ON FIRE Business Podcast is produced by ALZANKI ENTERPRISES and sponsored by some of Kuwait’s leading companies and organizations, including Ministry of Youth Affairs, Ali Al-Ghanim & Sons Automotive Group, Asnan Tower, Kuwait National Cinema Company (aka Cinescape), TheCity Magazine, Almasaref Magazine, AlKuwaityah Newspaper, Ele3lami Magazine. We sincerely thank our prominent sponsors for their ongoing support in helping us create a better tomorrow for the growing business oriented generation.

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