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News > Alumnae > Old Queens Series: Danielle Newnham

Old Queens Series: Danielle Newnham

Danielle talks about how her focus on tech and innovation in her career led her to start some incredible projects across different mediums.
3 Mar 2022
Written by Emilie Sitlani
Photo by Simon Buck /
Photo by Simon Buck /

Danielle Newnham (OQ 1989-1996) is a writer, podcaster and founder with a focus on tech and innovation. Her work concentrates on sharing the back-stories of tech founders and innovators in the hope that it will inspire others. She shares these stories in as many accessible formats as possible, including via a podcast reaching over 100,000 people every week, which she launched during the pandemic

Could we get a little biography about what it is that you do now, the podcast, your work writing and a bit about the Junto Network?

I have always been really interested in people’s stories. As a young child, my favourite program was Wogan – a talk show hosted by Terry Wogan - and my favourite thing to read was “A Life in the Day” at the back of The Sunday Times magazine.

Looking back, it’s probably no surprise that one of my deepest passions now is interviewing people and sharing their backstories. Coupled with my time in tech, my focus for the last ten years has been sharing the backstories of tech founders and innovators in the hope that it inspires and empowers others to build. I share these interviews in as many accessible formats as possible so online, in books, and via a podcast that I launched last year.

I also started The Junto Network* which I set up as a community where founders can come together for dinners to discuss their experiences and seek help from each other when needed. This interaction was something I found missing back in my start-up days, and it has been a way for me to stay connected with some brilliant innovators. Unfortunately, I had to hit pause on these during the pandemic, but I hope to bring them back soon.

I always bring together innovators from different fields because when you have that breadth of experience, great things can happen. The first-ever Junto Network dinner included someone working on a lunar settlement, someone who was developing a way for blind children to learn to code, and a successful teenage entrepreneur - among others! Having people from different backgrounds and areas of expertise creates a great mix of ideas and solutions and is extremely inspiring – it gives us all energy which is so necessary when you are building a start-up or trying to forge a new path.

*The Junto Network was named after Benjamin Franklin’s Junto Club, which was a club for mutual improvement set up in 1727 – its purpose was to debate important topics of the day and exchange knowledge.


Can you tell us a bit about your journey from Queen’s to hosting your own podcast?

After a degree in PR, I started my career in the music industry and had a dalliance in fashion before landing at my first start-up in 2006. At the time, we were known as a “new media” company where we worked on web applications and built mobile apps – this was at a time pre-iPhone and App Store.

We were building pretty innovative apps for Nokia, but whilst the star-tup had really ambitious ideas (personalised search, NFC payments, mobile ticketing), they were dedicating a lot of their efforts on the web and so two members of the award-winning mobile team and I went off to found a mobile apps agency which coincided with the launch of the iPhone and App Store.

That company was later acquired by Havas, a global communications group, and I had a baby which gave me some time to contemplate what I wanted to do next. I had learned first-hand how misunderstood the mobile industry was and how few even knew anything about the people behind the apps they used every day, so I started researching who these people were and why their stories were important. That, in turn, led me down this wonderful path I have been on ever since.

I launched my podcast last year and it has been amazing to watch it grow and reach new audiences. It currently reaches over 100,000 each week and guests have included Guy Kawasaki, Andy Hertzfeld, Donna Auguste, Megan Smith, Avery Wang, Soraya Darabi et al.

Danielle interviewing Matt "Mills" Miller, co-founder of digital studio ustwo

What does running a podcast look like day-to-day?

I am lucky that I can work from home, so my days are my own and each day is different depending on if I have an interview to record, publish or promote.

If I were to break down what running a podcast looks like, I would say each week is split between:


I do hours and hours of research before I interview someone. I want to uncover the stories or situations that other interviewers might have overlooked. It’s important for me to get their full story out and I can only do that when I know all there is about that person and the work they have done – including the highs and the lows because there are so many lessons in both.

A lot of my interviewees are also authors these days, so I read their book cover to cover. When they mention people that played a part in their lives or whom they worked with, I often reach out to those people and ask if there’s anything I couldn’t possibly know about the interviewee but should definitely ask them. This has proved to be a USP for me and often leads to really interesting conversations.


I have a spreadsheet of all the people I want to interview and their contact details which is over 250 names long and grows every week. Some interviews, like one I did recently, are eight years in the making! It definitely takes time and effort to get great, and very busy, people on the show. The planning alone takes time because you want to have an episode go out at a time that is beneficial for the interviewee, whether that be ahead of an announcement or a book coming out etc.


I use Zoom to record my interviews. I know people who use Riverside and others who use Skype but so far, Zoom has worked well for me. The interview will take one hour but then there is the setting up, talking to the guest before/after the interview so it can take around two hours per one hour interview.


Recording is only half the job, editing plays a huge part too. I have a fantastic editor called Jolin who I have worked with for years. Editing can be anything from removing “umms” and “uhhs” to unavoidable background noise. I had one guest who was so nervous that Jolin had to do extra work to not let that show and even the guest was impressed with the results.

That’s the thing about interviewing innovators - not all are media savvy or good at promoting themselves – it’s my job to get them relaxed and Jolin helps to make it sound natural. I couldn’t do the podcast without her.


On any given day, I promote the podcast. There’s no secret sauce to growing an audience other than posting regular, engaging content. I use Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn mainly.

I also have a newsletter that goes out to 30,000 subscribers and I write that twice a week.


One day a week, I work on revenue. This could be reaching out to potential sponsors, looking at different ways to repurpose my content e.g. working on episodes for Blinkist, who I have just signed up with for a five-year deal.

I also plan to write more books so there are lots of exciting projects coming up this year!


Who has been the most interesting person you’ve interviewed?

Alvy Ray Smith by Chris MichelThere have been so many – all of them are heroes of mine but I think Alvy Ray Smith, the co-founder of Pixar, has to be one of my favourites because whose life hasn’t been touched by the beauty and storytelling of Pixar?

I also learned so much about the history of computer graphics from Alvy. He was an electrical engineer, artist, computer scientist and a pioneer in the field of computer graphics. As an electrical engineering student at New Mexico State University, he generated his first digital image in 1965 which is incredible!

He also shared eye-opening stories about Steve Jobs (Pixar investor) and lessons from his book which traces the origins of the pixel, including nods to Napoleon, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Alan Turing, Claude Shannon, Ivan Sutherland and many others.

In a one hour interview, I learned more about tech history and how innovation occurs than in any other single interview I have done. It was a masterclass!

Photo by Chris Michel


How did the pandemic impact your work?

I am very lucky that I can work from home and so the pandemic didn’t impact my work too much, but it did reinforce in me this idea that the world needs inspiring, human stories of achievement more than ever before.

I was actually diagnosed with cancer in January 2020 and had an operation during lockdown. It was during recovery that I decided to interview founders from across the world to document this crazy time we were all living through so I published a series of interviews called Beyond Work. I interviewed around twenty founders from India, Australia, The USA, Africa and beyond. Despite someone’s geographical location, we were all going through the same thing, at the same time, and these interviews have been really interesting to look back on.

What was also fascinating to see was that whilst so many of us were locked inside, rightly fearful of what was to come, each founder, in each part of the world, reacted in unique ways – a Parisian entrepreneur played music with his neighbours from their terraces at noon every day. In New Delhi, an entrepreneur was helping feed the many thousands of families and workers who were unable to support themselves during lockdown, and another founder in the UK actually launched her own business during the pandemic!

These stories were really uplifting and a great way to document this unique point in history.

I also learned I am a natural introvert, which I would have never guessed growing up. I was known as a chatterbox as a kid but I definitely crave time alone and relished the peace in London during the initial lockdown. I used the time to listen to podcasts where I sought daily respite from all the news.


What are your memories of Queen’s? Did you have any favourite teachers?

I absolutely loved my time at Queen’s! So much so that I have been looking for an equivalent for my son now.

Queen’s was instrumental in teaching us all that we could be whatever we wanted to be. There was no uniform then and its rich feminist history was ever-present, so it was a very empowering environment to learn in. I think that’s also why so many Old Queens girls went on to forge amazing careers from people like Emma Freud and Liberty Ross to my good friend Anu Omideyi.

I made lifelong friends at Queen’s and am forever grateful that I went to a school where we could truly be ourselves.

I had so many wonderful teachers, but my favourite teacher was Dr Relle – fiercely intelligent, slightly eccentric, she was hugely inspiring to me. Her presence commanded your attention and her passion for English was infectious. She was tough but she inspired you to learn more, read more, write better and aim higher… and that’s the best teacher you can have.

Every school needs a Dr Relle.

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