Today begins a new phase in the life of Mon Amye with a brand-spanking-new monthly feature I’m calling Founders + Friends.
Because, in addition to being your resource for practical and inspiring lifestyle content, Mon Amye is your friend, your sounding-board, your motivator. She’s the one you turn to for advice and to share your successes, and that’s just what this new Founders + Friends series will be doing each month. [Plus, I love hearing from entrepreneurs and now I have a reason to ask after my favorite success stories!]
To start strong, I approached theSkimm co-founders Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin and they were super-quick to accept [well, what do you expect? They work in news, which demands being as nimble as an antelope!].
I was curious about how these impressive ladies took the leap from producing in the newsroom to creating theSkimm, and how their friendship has fared during these startup years.
Carly and Danielle have been making a lot of press recently as theSkimm surpassed one million followers in late 2014 – it helps to have new friends like Oprah, among many others, who are Skimm’ing! – but in this Founders + Friends interview with Mon Amye you’ll get a little insight into how these co-founders bring the magic of theSkimm to your inbox each day. Read on!
[Amye] The Basics: Tell us about theSkimm:
[Carly (left) + Danielle (right)] theSkimm makes it easier to be smarter. We have started with a daily email newsletter that breaks down the headlines for busy, on the go professionals.
The BFFs: How did you originally meet and become friends?
We met studying abroad in college. We went to separate colleges but did the same trip in Rome. We had a great semester and then reconnected after college when we were both working full time for NBC News.
We bonded over growing up news junkies and working in an industry that we both saw changing very, very quickly. We both bounced around from New York and DC and wound up roommates. We were at a similar point in our careers that we wanted to do what we loved — telling people about what’s going on in the world — but weren’t sure how to create a lasting career in it.
The Startup Phase: How did you first decide to go into business together?
It wasn’t easy. We would talk about this ‘Project TBD’ we had and it was always under the guise of ‘one day we’ll start something.’ It was just kind of timing. Being roommates, we would come home to each other every day and it was kind of a mental check — are we doing what we really want to do?
We were 25 at the time, without families to support and a list of real responsibilities. It was never going to get easier to start something. That being said — quitting our jobs was one of the scariest days ever for each of us. We just had to decide to take a huge leap of faith and believe really strongly in our idea. Plus, we had a very supportive friends and family network.
The Now: Briefly describe theSkimm as it stands today. Who manages what aspects of theSkimm? Has that evolved as time passes?
Today, theSkimm has 8 employees, including the two of us, covering the business, tech, and editorial parts of the business. We recently completed our Series A and are looking to expand our team.
The Hard Stuff: What is the biggest obstacle you have faced while in business?
The first time we fundraised was a challenge for us. We are first time entrepreneurs and don’t have a traditional business or tech background. So everything from making a budget to a hiring plan to thinking about the value of our company was new for us.
We handled it by asking for help — a lot of it from a lot of different people. We did our homework on how other people had looked at a seed raise and the type of partners we needed at the table.
The Network: Share the people in your network that have proven to be true friends. Who do you turn to for support?
We are both very close with our families who might not always understand the exact issues we face but are always there to hear us vent and bring us back to reality.
The Wins: How do you celebrate your successes?
We have champagne as a team! Every time we hit a milestone, we pop a bottle. And save the bottle on a Skimm bar.
For the first year or so of the business we didn’t take time to celebrate so when we hired a team and moved into our first office, it was something very important to us.
Voila! Practical inspiration for your own big dreams, delivered to mes amies.
A huge thanks to Danielle and Carly for jumping out of the 24-hour-news-cycle for a hot second to share their story here. I love hearing that theSkimm was originally called ‘Project TBD’ – I’ve got my own ‘Project TBD’ idea-in-formation, and I’m sure some of mes amies do too! – which eventually took enough shape that it was worth the risk to pursue. I’m sure the leap was *slightly* easier knowing your best friend was leaping right beside you!
If you’re not subscribed to theSkimm by now, what are you waiting for!?! Join the Skimmlife by signing up here.
[Editor’s note: Yes, I am a Skimm’bassador but no, this is not a sponsored post. Skimm’bassadors like me simply love theSkimm and want to spread the benefits of Skimming with everyone. I first wrote about theSkimm here, and can’t wait to stay in-the-know with what these co-founders dream up next!]