Carly Zakin & Danielle Weisberg, Co-Founders, theSkimm
How theSkimm’s co-founders grew a successful content brand by building a community
Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin started their business as two good friends sitting side by side on a couch, laptops splayed across their laps.
Today, their work setting is quite different. The duo helms theSkimm, a membership company that encompasses a news digest with 7 million daily subscribers, a staff of more than 70, and more than 30,000 enthusiastic brand ambassadors.
The company just closed a round of Series C funding led by GV (formerly Google Ventures) and a group of mainly female investors—including the likes of Shonda Rhimes, Tyra Banks, and Spanx founder Sara Blakely.
While they may work in an office instead of on the couch, one thing has stayed the same throughout the six years that Weisberg and Zakin have grown theSkimm.
“We are friends,” Weisberg says. “We really talk to each other. We talk to each other even when we don’t have to. The backbone to this company in a lot of ways is the fact that Carly and I are very communicative with each other, and very collaborative.”
That dynamic sets the tone for daily operations at theSkimm, which is largely premised on supporting women.
“Everything we do is focused around the female millennial demographic,” Weisberg says. From their customers to their ambassadors to their own friendship, Weisberg and Zakin have built a company based on women uplifting and supporting each other. In the process, they’re proving that we are all stronger when we work together.
News for Women’s Daily Lives
Weisberg and Zakin met while working as producers for NBC News. They’d both started out as interns and then grown their careers within the organization, trying their hands at various aspects of the business.
They loved the industry, but as time went on, they realized there was a void in the market between what mainstream outlets were producing (and how they were producing it) relative to the lifestyles of so many of their friends. Weisberg and Zakin believed their social circle to be representative of the female millennial demographic, and those friends weren’t really interacting with the news content being produced at NBC.
“This audience…has so little time, so many demands on their time, and we were working in an industry that wasn’t thinking about how they liked to consume content or how they actually fit content into their day,” Weisberg says.
So they created theSkimm, with the express purpose of making it easier for millennial women to live smarter, more connected lives.
“Our product philosophy is based around, ‘What are the routines of our audience…and how can we integrate products into those routines?,’” Zakin says.
They knew their target audience had already built regular email checks into its daily routines—including the classic “wake up and check email on your phone” routine. So Weisberg and Zakin decided to meet the audience in their inboxes with a daily newsletter. “We knew we had to be a part of that early morning routine,” Zakin says.
At the time, theSkimm’s detractors criticized that strategy as being out of date. But Weisberg and Zakin stuck to their guns. Six years later, Zakin says, “What we’ve seen is that we really set a trend for a resurgence of how brands want to have a direct connection with their customer.”
Even though email marketing has been fundamental to theSkimm’s growth, Weisberg and Zakin aren’t rigid about their relationship to email.
“We love anything that fits into routine,” Zakin says. “We are a huge fan of anything that can make it easier to show up where [our target readers] already are. That’s why we’re always a proponent of email; we’re a proponent of text messaging. We’re definitely a proponent of companies figuring out new and innovative ways to tap into our routines.”
Ultimately, Weisberg says, the mission is more important than the marketing method. “I think we have created a specific brand with the mission statement of making it easier to live smarter, and how that gets across is going to change as new technologies develop and as our routines continue to evolve,” she says. “So we’re always thinking about how we can leverage technology to make it easier to live smarter throughout our audience’s days.”
It’s a topic of endless debate in the startup space: Is it possible to build a brand on the back of content, and to make money from that content over the long term?
Rather than get caught up in the fray, Weisberg and Zakin have quietly gone about proving that it can be done. But they didn’t start out with monetization at the forefront of their minds.
“One decision we made and the best piece of advice that we could have gotten starting out is that with two of you and not a lot of resources, you can only be good at one thing,” Weisberg says. “So either be really good at growing your audience and creating your brand, or be really good at monetizing it. We picked building the audience.”
In fact, theSkimm didn’t make any moves toward monetization until two-and-a-half years in.
When they introduced their first sponsor (the NBA), they did so carefully. They included a note to their readers in the newsletter, which said something along the lines of, Hey, we’ve gotta eat. So we’re going to start introducing brands that we like. We think you’ll like them too. Feel free to give us feedback.
“People really understood that,” Weisberg says.
Once they entered the world of monetization, Weisberg and Zakin didn’t stop at sponsored content.
“For us it was really important from the beginning that we think through having differentiated revenue streams,” Weisberg says. To that end, theSkimm sells a monthly subscription app, produces sponsored content, and draws from affiliate revenue on the likes of books and lifestyle products. Down the road, they’d like to start hosting live events. They’re also looking into subscription offerings that go beyond daily news and will, Zakin says, “make it easier [for our audience] to do adulting.”
“These are all things that we try to weave organically into our user’s day,” Weisberg says. “We’re there and using our power of recommendation to curate but not to bastardize the brand experience. And I think we’re able to do that because we’re not just solely relying on advertising.”
Having multiple income streams provides the team with the opportunity to be discerning about the partnerships they embrace and those they decline.
“We want to make sure that when we do these things, we do it in a way that fits into our brand values and that makes sense for our team,” Weisberg says.
Zakin concurs. “It’s very easy to get distracted by shiny objects,” she says. “You have to…go back to, ‘What are you best at, and how can you keep doing what you’re best at?’ And then that will help you figure what are the [right] expansion opportunities.”
The duo also hasn’t been shy about raising funds.
“We could not have afforded to start a company when we were 25 years old without raising outside funding,” Weisberg says. “We were not in a financial position to take that on.”
The inevitability of raising funds informed the team’s strategy from the get-go. “We really had to make sure that we focused on specific metrics that would allow us to attract outside funding,” Weisberg says.
In order to target the right metrics and effectively grow their audience, Weisberg and Zakin quickly realized the importance of community building.
They started out with an organic, guerilla marketing approach that involved flyering college campuses, urban coffee shops, gyms, and other locales where their target demo might hang out.
“Whereas now I would look at this as a strategy, in the beginning it was really just about using all of the resources at our disposal—which really weren’t many,” Weisberg says. Conscious or not, that strategy would form the backbone of theSkimm moving forward.
“Having a community form around us [early on]…really built in the idea of hustle into the DNA of the brand,” Weisberg says. “That’s been something that the community has really galvanized around.”
That early community was so invested in theSkimm that users started referring to themselves as brand ambassadors on their own. And thus the idea for theSkimm’bassadors program was born.
The ambassador program has gone through several iterations and is still evolving. It encompasses everything from active Facebook groups to a massive voter registration campaign. (That campaign—dubbed No Excuses—registered over 100,000 people to vote in the 2016 U.S. election and is working to get 100,000 more to vote in this year’s midterm elections.) What remains the same is the premise of women supporting women.
“They’re bound together by a shared value system of what theSkimm is and what living a smarter life is about,” Zakin says. “What’s been amazing is to see their connections with one another.”
While the Skimm’bassador program is also bolstered by a variety of tiered incentives, Weisberg and Zakin are quick to say that the bonds between participants are what makes the program so vibrant, and so successful.
“They share goals together [and] support each other,” Weisberg says. “It’s become in many ways a group of amazing women really rooting each other on.”
Not only are the Skimm’bassadors the brand’s biggest cheerleaders, but they also provide accountability that helps ensure theSkimm stays true to its core even as it grows and evolves.
“They’re…our first critics when we’re not living up to brand promises or when they think we can do better,” Weisberg says. “They’ve been really vocal about a lot of things, whether we’re asking them for advice on areas that we could grow, [or] advice on partnerships… [or] the people they think we should interview. They’re always pushing us to grow and to make sure that we’re always thinking about ways to make it easier to be smarter.”
In many ways, theSkimm’s ardent fans are merely an extension of the friendship on which theSkimm was premised.
“There’s no ultimate authority…for us,” Weisberg says. “It’s a company that we have formed and developed together, and that is the example that we want to set for our team: That is, it’s better when you work together to challenge each other and create stronger products and ideas.”
- Consider your funding options carefully. There are a lot of possibilities out there, Weisberg says, and it’s important to take stock of all options before pursuing outside funds. “People should be honest with themselves about what type of company they want to start and how big it can get (and how big do they want it to get) before they…decide on which funding source is right for them,” she says.
- Build a community. Not surprisingly, Weisberg and Zakin are huge proponents of community building. Monetization can come later, but an enthusiastic, loyal audience is indispensable for growth.
- Grow with your audience. “We always say, ‘You can age into theSkimm, but you can’t age out,’” Zakin says. “What we’ve seen is that we’re a must-read or must-have brand for a younger audience, but we also have been able to start to expand with our audience and help them go through the next phases of their life.”
- How and why they waited two and a half years to monetize their community of loyal followers
- How they monetize their content with multiple income streams to build a sustainable, well-rounded business
- Details of the Skimm’bassadors program and why it has grown so rapidly
- Zakin and Weisberg’s top tips for growing a content-based business
Full Transcript of Podcast with Carly Zakin & Danielle Weisberg
Nathan: Guys, the first question that I ask everyone that comes on is how did you guys get your job?
Carly: We created our own.
Danielle: Yeah. We started the company. So we got to be co-founders. I think, you know, our background is we were both producers for NBC News. We had interned and kind of grown up at NBC and worked in different areas of the news business and loved it. Ultimately, just saw a void in the market between our friends indicative of the female millennial demographic, educated meeting in so many different ways and in so many different decisions and they weren’t really interacting with the news content that we were producing.
And we just saw this void between this audience that has so little time, so many demands on their time, and we were working in an industry that wasn’t thinking about how they’d like to consume content or how that actually fits into their day-to-day. So we created our company, theSkimm, which makes it easier to live smarter and we focus all…everything we do is focused around the female millennial demographic.
So we created our jobs as co-founders and I think we had to really grow into our jobs as co-CEOs, and that was something, you know, we’re six years in and that’s something that each year becomes a different job description as the company grows.
Nathan: Yeah, amazing and, look, I’m very familiar with theSkimm. I’m sure many people listening right now in our audience would be, but can you kind of just give us a little bit of an idea of how far you guys have taken the brand in the past six years? Maybe some…you don’t have to share revenue numbers per se but just, like, user base, how many people are reading the newsletter, like…
Danielle: Yeah, sure. So we have seven million subscribers to The Daily Skimm. We have a staff of over 70 people. We have a community of more than 30,000 Skimm’bassadors. We just posted a round of series C funding led by Google Ventures, along with a group of mostly female investors like Shonda Rimes, Tyra Banks, Sara Blakely, who founded Spanx, and we…what else can I tell you?
Carly: We’ve grown the company from the 2 of us on our couch to 75 people in a much, much, much bigger office that now we’re moving out of.
Nathan: Awesome. Wow. Really, it’s incredible. So talk to me, like, about the early days. You know, so you started…
Danielle: Oh, God.
Nathan: You started it from your couch just the two of you guys. You guys still best friends?
Carly: We haven’t killed each other yet.
Danielle: Yeah, no, it’s funny because someone on our team, one of our more junior employees, the other day was asking like, “Oh, so you guys actually hang out, like, outside of work?” I think it’s kind of funny that people don’t think that. Like, yes, we are friends. We really talk to each other.
We talk to each other even though we don’t have to but I think that, you know, the backbone to this company a lot of ways is the fact that Carly and I are very communicative with each other and very collaborative. And there’s no, you know, ultimate authority. There’s no kingmaker for us. It’s a company that we have formed and developed together and that is the example that we want to set for our team, which is it’s better when you work together to challenge each other and to create stronger products and ideas.
Nathan: Yeah, amazing. So, like, when it comes to, I guess, like when you guys started, why an email newsletter? Because I’m sure you guys get asked this. Like why was that the forefront of what you guys wanted to start with?
Carly: Yeah, so, you know, I never thought about ourselves as a newsletter business. Email for us was a marketing tool and it still is. You know, our product velocity very much is based around what are the routines of our audience? Of, you know, our target is female millennials and then how can we integrate products into those routines? So email, for us, it was very obvious.
First thing, you know, we do in the morning is grab our phone and you kind of scan your email for anything, you know, pertinent from your friends or family. So we knew we had to be a part of that early morning routine and, you know, early on six years ago, people really looked down upon that strategy and thought it was out of date, thought it made no sense, and what we’ve seen is that we really set a trend for kind of a resurgence of how brands want to have a direct connection with their customer.
I think what’s differentiated us is that we took that direct connection with our customer and we didn’t bastardize it. We used that to expand how we talk to our customer rather than continuing to cloud their inbox with more emails.
Nathan: Yeah, and when it comes to, like, sending the, like, email or getting your Daily Skimm, I’m curious around how you guys have looked to monetize that because one common trend as well, is a lot of people say that media companies are dying.
It’s very difficult to monetize content. What are you guys’ thoughts on that whole side of things?
Danielle: So I think a few things and I’m keeping in mind that your audience, as you said, are people that are looking to start their own companies or are in the midst of it. One decision that we made and probably the best piece of advice that we could have gotten starting out was, you know, with two of you and not a lot of resources, you can only be good at one thing.
So either be really good at growing your audience and creating a brand or be really good at monetizing it, and we picked growing the audience consistent with a brand. Really solidifying that. So we didn’t take any sponsorship and we didn’t monetize at all until about two and a half years in.
Nathan: Oh, wow.
Danielle: And when we did, we actually introduced our first sponsor, which was the NBA, and we did so with a note to our readers in the newsletter saying something like, you know, it was like, “Hey, we’ve got to eat. We’re going to start introducing brands that we like. We think you’ll like them, too.Feel free to give us feedback.”
And I think introducing it that way set the stage that, you know, we had to monetize. People really understood that and we were going to do it in a way that didn’t disrupt the experience but tried to be additive. So that’s how we introduced it and you’re right, we’ve seen a lot of media companies in this day and age really, I mean, spend a lot of money on content and video creation, really go big in that, and not be able to monetize it or not be able to look at profitability.
For us, it was really important from the beginning that we think through having differentiated revenue streams. So we have native sponsorship. We have subscription revenue directly through our app, which is $2.99 a month and you can get it in the app store. And we have affiliate revenue, as well. We move a lot of commerce books, mattresses, efficiency products, the best things to use when you travel, and these are all things that we try to weave organically into our users’ day.
So when they’re thinking about what to read, when they’re thinking about what they really need to go into a summer weekend, that we’re there and we’re using our power of recommendation to curate but not to bastardize the brand experience. And I think we’re able to do that because we’re not just solely reliant on advertising.
Nathan: Yeah, I think that’s really smart. I’m starting to see a lot of progressive media companies, they don’t just rely on advertising and they have many different revenue streams. I’m really curious, like, do you guys plan to keep, like, adding, I guess, or bolting on other revenue streams?
Perhaps even physical products or, like, having your own line? Like because, really, you have this brand, really, the world is your oyster. You can, you know, have all sorts of different products, whether it’s physical or digital.
Danielle: It’s definitely, you know, the advantage of having a strong brand and that’s something that we thought and we spent a lot of time building, but it also means we have to be careful about where we led that brand and be really cognizant of where we have authority to play; which spaces make sense for us.
Also, as a startup, you have to be careful about resources and bandwidth and where you place your bets. So I see a lot of areas that we could potentially go into. I think that the idea of commerce and fitting directly into peoples’ routines, coupled with our ability to move things like book sales is something that’s really interesting to us. We also have, you know, a 30,000-person Skimm’bassador program.
So the idea of getting them together in live events is certainly something that we would love to explore down the road, but we want to make sure that when we do these things, that we do it in a way that fits into the brand values and that we set it up for success with our team.
Nathan: Yeah, that makes sense and I agree. Like, you know, sometimes, you know, when you do have a brand and you do have, like, a reasonable size audience, you guys have a massive audience, the question is, you know, you can do so many different things to grow this company. How do you work out the right thing?
And like as you said, as well, focus is key but then at the same time, you know, you have to tread carefully on what resonates with your audience. So for any of our listeners that perhaps are starting to build their brand, perhaps they’re doing a content play and they haven’t, like, turned on any levers of monetization or revenue yet, how do you know what is right, what is wrong, and how do you decide what’s going to resonate with your audience?
Carly: It’s a great question. I wish it was as easy as just, you know…obviously if it was as easy as that, we’d all do the same thing. So I think, you know, it’s very easy to get distracted by shiny objects. It’s very easy to get distracted by partnerships that sound exciting, that could lead to revenue but you kind of have to assume that any partnership brand is in zero revenue.
So, like, best case scenario is zero and you get the prize if something else comes from that, and I think as we would think about, you know, different opportunities that can bring in different revenue or different brand opportunities, we would kind of always go back to what is our core value of what we do every day to our audience? How would our audience describe us?
What is our value proposition to them and how do we maximize that value? And I think kind of keeping that central focus is what has allowed us to get this far. We’ve certainly been tested by that and it’s much easier said than done, but that would be the best advice I would give to other founders is kind of go back to what are you best at and how can we keep doing what you’re best at? And then that will help you figure out what are the expansion opportunities.
Nathan: Yeah, okay. Awesome. That’s amazing advice and when it comes to fostering your community, that’s something that you guys are very, very good at. Did you guys do anything strategically in the early days to foster your community?
Carly: Strategically? Maybe that’s a generous word. Yeah, in the long run, yes, I think that the most strategic thing we did was recognize the importance of a community. So when we started, Carly and I were both really bad drivers, did our version of a campus road trip where we drove to a few schools, universities in the area, and we would print out flyers and put them under dorms and pretend we were students and sneak into the cafeteria and wear our Skimm shirts and talk to them.
And then when we were in New York, we would sneak into Equinox and Starbucks and leave Skimm postcards and really just had this organic, kind of guerilla marketing approach. And whereas now I would look at that as a strategy, in the beginning, it was really using all of the resources at our disposal, which weren’t many.
So I think that having a community form around us at that moment really built in the idea of into the DNA of the brand and that’s been something that the community has really galvanized around, and now our Skimm’bassadors talk about the next step they want to take in their careers and their lives and it’s become in many ways a group of amazing women really rooting each other on.
Nathan: Yeah, amazing and when did you guys launch the ambassador program and how does that exactly work? And how do you keep in touch with those guys? Because I do see a lot of brands using…well, not necessarily using that but really allowing certain people in their community to kind of give them, like, a badge of honor and be able to go out there and kind of help evangelize your brand, push forward your mission because they’re really passionate about the work that you’re doing.
Carly: Yeah, so, you know, it’s funny because it sounds so strategic in hindsight but as Danielle said, you know, it happened very organically. In creating the community early on and responding to the organic loyalty towards our brand and the organic connection our users had with our brand, you know, we had the people saying that they were brand ambassadors, so we just said, “Well, call yourself a Skimm’bassador.”
And so that immediately became the moniker attached to it and that formed over time into different iterations and different shapes over time of how big the program was, how big we wanted to let it get, and, you know, I think there’s been a few different ways that we’ve been able to kind of take control over it and foster it.
So we certainly use Facebook and Facebook groups. We’ve been experimenting with Slack. One of our hallmarks of our company is our No Excuses platform which, you know, we talk about what the company has done. What we’re probably the most proud of, we registered over 100,000 people to vote in 2016 and are working to get 100,000 people to show up and vote this year in the United States midterm election.
Nathan: Yeah, wow.
Carly: Yeah. So part of the efforts of doing that is actually relying on our community to be a part of that. So even recently, we’ve had 30 voter captains come to our headquarters in New York and actually go through trainings of how to be vote captains. We visited them, you know, on the ground. They’ve got it together organically. We have events for them called Sip and Skimms where they’re connecting to each other, their local communities.
So I think, you know, what we have found is they’re bound together by a mission, a shared value system of what the mission of Skimm is and what the importance of living your smarter life is about, but their retention in the program, you know, can be motivated by a lot of different factors and I think that what’s been amazing is to see their connections with one another.
Nathan: Yeah, amazing and when it comes to, like, setting up this ambassador program, like, do you guys just have a Facebook group and you say, like, you know, become a Skimm Ambassador and they have to fill out a form or do they get added incentives or benefits? Like, yeah, how does that work?
Danielle: To be considered a Skimm’bassador, you have to refer 10 friends to the Daily Skimm newsletter and then you get a Skimm tote bag, and in many ways it’s our biggest referral engine and [inaudible] engine. So we incentivize our community with different levels of swag.
We’ve never put any of that product up for sale an we’ve had referrals into the thousands and we’ve flown those people in to spend time with us at Skimm HQ and they get a trip to New York. We actually flew 30 of them into New York to spend time with a voter registration conference, as Carly talked about. We also created this thing called the B-List, which was the bucket list, and it was a way for them to lay out their goals for the year with each other and to root each other on.
They raised money for Skimm’bassador teachers and local communities. They’ve helped each other through definite hardships in their personal lives, and actually, one of my favorite anecdotes about them is they saved a wedding. This woman was traveling and her sister’s fiance left his wedding suit at an airport, and she posted in the Skimm’bassador group if anyone there was traveling, happened to be in the airport or close by, and the Skimm’bassadors as a group tracked it down, got it back, and shipped it in time for the wedding.
So it’s amazing to see hundreds of people just come out of the woodwork and cheer each other on. So there’s a lot of ways that they connect and a lot of things that they offer us at the company and, you know, they’re our biggest cheerleading group and also our first critics when we’re not living up to brand promises or when they think we could do better.
They’re something that we really appreciate, and we learn from.
Nathan: Yeah, wow. That’s an amazing initiative and you say how they’re your, like, best critics, as well. Like has there been…can you perhaps share a time where maybe you guys were doing something that the community rallied and said maybe that’s not the right move? Has that happened before?
Danielle: You know, I think that they’ve been really vocal about a lot of things, whether it’s, you know, we’re asking them for advice on areas that we could grow, advice on partnerships, they really chime in on people they think we should interview. We open them up to AMAs to be able to ask mentors questions and so I think that they’re always pushing us to grow and to make sure that we’re always thinking about ways to make it easier to be smarter, and I think also, you know, when we look at the conversations that they’re having, it’s definitely indicative of a lot of the conversations that we’re seeing on Facebook and social media.
And things get heated when you’re talking over the internet and I think that is something that we’ve had to learn and really think through community management.
Nathan: Like when it comes to growth, like, what’s next for you guys? Like what’s your next focus?
Carly: Yeah, so, you know, I think for us, you know, it’s been an exciting time, you know, post our fundraise and looking at, you know, how we’ve grown the company very strategically and thoughtfully. It’s been really [inaudible] up to becoming a membership business and by being a membership company, you know, we’re focused in a very specific audience and, you know, as we talked earlier in the conversation, that’s driven by different revenue stream and so we’re really leading into subscription and subscription offerings, and really looking at how we can make it easier to live a smarter life in categories outside of just news.
And so thinking about, you know, how do we make it easier to do adulting, so to speak? In a very millennial way to say that.
Nathan: Yeah, I was thinking actually as we were talking because I’m a millennial, too, and we’re getting older. Like, you know, and we’re…
Danielle: Are you that old?
Nathan: We have different challenges now and I guess where I’m going with this is as, you know, us guys get older, I guess your audience, like, is getting older, as well. Like Foundr has a very millennial audience, as well, and kind of, you have to, in a way, want to be able to stay on top of those challenges and speak to them, but at the same time, what about the new generation of, I guess, you know, younger people that are coming into this world?
And, like, you know, at Foundr, like, we have…we have been, like, you know, hiring these incredibly young kids that are, like, you know, 21 and they’re just, like, so smart. It’s just crazy and they have different challenges. So how do you guys plan to kind of, like, I guess speak to still the younger generation as we’re getting older and millennials are getting older and yeah?
There’s a new wave, I think, coming through. That’s where I’m getting. Yeah.
Carly: We’ve thought about this question, you know, early on when we started the business. You know, how would we address this? And, you know, with reserving the right to change our minds, of course, I will say that we’ve always gravitated towards, you know, the example of “Sex in the City” and we used to say that, you know, we were too young to watch “Sex in the City” when it originally aired and there were a lot of people that watched “Sex in the City” that were out of their target demographic and then obviously there was the target demographic.
So applying that, there’s something aspirational about our brand on either side of the target age range and so we always say you can age into theSkimm but you can’t age out, and I think what we’ve seen is that we’re kind of a must-read or a must-have brand for a younger audience. But then we also have been able to start to expand with our audience and help them go through next stages of their life.
Nathan: Yeah, okay, and look, I’d love to switch gears. Just we have to work towards wrapping up but when it comes to…one thing that I’m hearing a lot, and I’m sure you guys are hearing a lot in the marketplace right now, is this thing around, like, how, you know, Facebook Messenger is the new email and, you know, I’d love to hear you guys’ thoughts on this and what’s your take.
Danielle: You know, I haven’t heard that necessarily but we love anything that fits into your routine. So we are a huge fan of anything that can make it easier to show up where we already are and, you know, I think that’s why we’re always up on email, we’re photo text messaging, and we’ve inserted a lot of texting capabilities into our subscription app, once our subscription app began, by integrating into our calendar, another routine.
So while we haven’t ever heard anyone say that it’s the new email, we’re definitely a proponent of companies figuring out new and innovative ways to tap into our routines in a way that respects our privacy.
Nathan: Yeah, and I really…I think that your answer there just kind of shows, kind of, like why you guys are staying on the cutting edge because you’re not locked down to just one particular thing and you’re always open to change.
Danielle: Yeah, I think that we have created a specific brand with, you know, the mission statement of making it easier to live smarter and how that gets across is going to change as new technologies develop and as our routines continue to evolve.
And so we’re always thinking about how we can leverage technology to make it easier to live smarter throughout our audience’s day.
Nathan: It’s amazing and when it comes to, I guess, growth and funding, I’d love to hear you guys just kind of weigh in, just for our audience, because sometimes, you know, people come to a crossroads, like you guys did when you started, where do you decide to raise capital? Do you not to decide to raise capital?
And how did you guys come to that decision?
Danielle: Well, I think for us, you know, it wasn’t really so much of a decision. We could not have afforded to start a company when we were 25 years old without raising outside funding. We were not in a financial position to be able to take that on. We went into debt to start the company. We had a few thousand dollars saved up between us but there really, you know, was not much of a safety net there financially.
So we really had to make sure that we were focused on specific metrics that would allow us to attract outside funding, but I do think something for entrepreneurs to look at is what type of funding makes sense for the company that you want to build and the goals that you want to achieve?
Obviously, you know, we’ve gone down the venture capital route but I think that there are a lot of different options and I think that people should be honest with themselves about what type of company they want to start and how big can it get? And how big do they want it to get before they think about or decide on which funding source is right for them?
Nathan: All right, well, we’ll work towards wrapping up but kind of where’s the best place people can find out more about theSkimm and you guys and your work?
Danielle: Theskimm.com. TheSkimm with two m’s .com and, well, obviously we’re focused on the U.S. elections right now. Hopefully, your audience will still find our work interesting at theskimm.com/noexcuses.
Nathan: Awesome. Well, look, thank you so much for your time, guys. I really appreciate it. I know you’re super busy and, yeah, this was awesome. There was quite a diverse conversation but there’s a lot of stuff that our audience will be able to take away. Thank you so much.
Carly: Thanks, Nathan.
Danielle: Thank you.
Key Resources From Our Interview With Carly Zakin & Danielle Weisberg
- Learn more about theSkimm here