Trevor Toczydlowski

A Look Behind The Scenes of Building a Startup

If you had the chance, would you quit your well-paying, full-time job to start a company of your own? Would you give up the stability it takes to raise a family and bet on your idea and ability? That is exactly what Alex Blumberg chronicled in the first season of his Startup podcast.

Blumberg had worked in public radio and was part of two successful podcasts in This American Life and Planet Money. He got an idea to start his own podcasting company that would produce three podcasts within his first year of the company and grow to as many as 15 in the years that followed.

In our class we all had the opportunity to do ‘elevator’ pitches. We had one minute to accurately and succinctly tell our idea for a start up in front of our peers. While this was somewhat tough, I cannot imagine having to do an elevator pitch to a billionaire when everything you planned was in a slideshow you weren’t able to use.

Blumberg’s first pitch did not go well. He left it with more questions then answers and realized he had a long way to go before his idea could become a reality. Even after he spent time perfecting his pitch, he still had trouble coming up with a plan that would convince investors to back him financially. Many of the investors wanted his company to make them innumerable profits like Twitter or AirBnb. His plan wasn’t really set up to be something that could scale on that level.

He also came to realize that he would need a business partner if he wanted his idea to come to fruition. It took him some time before he found someone who shared his passion, but also had the business experience needed to make the business successful. He found that person in Matthew Lieber. Lieber and Blumberg were able to take what was then APC (American Podcasting Corporation) and turn it into what is now Gimlet Media.

The passion that Blumberg showed for his idea is what made it so successful I think. He had so many obstacles that could’ve derailed his idea, but his passion and the support of those around him made his idea become a reality. Throughout the process of finding investors, he was often told that his idea wouldn’t scale well enough. That there simply wasn’t enough money that could be made to entice a big corporation to want to buy him out. This changed just five days ago, as he sold Gimlet Media to Spotify.

While it may not have blown up in the same way that Twitter and other major start-ups have, it did what many investors that passed him up thought that it couldn’t. He scaled it into something that a media giant wanted and cashed in with his sale to Spotify.

One thought on “A Look Behind The Scenes of Building a Startup

  1. I really like how you made a point to acknowledge that “it took him some time before he found someone who shared his passion, but also had the business experience needed to make the business successful”. I think this is something we often forget in terms of ensuring that money and business components come into play just as much as believing in your company does. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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