Kaitlyn Kelley

We have to Start(Up) somewhere

I’m not a podcast listener. This is probably a very unpopular journalism major thing, but I’m still very aware of the growing popularity of podcasts! I’m even one of the producers of a new podcast called Snewscast (yay for trying new things!) Anyway, listening to the first few episodes of “StartUp” by Gimlet Media was interesting to me, especially since it was a different way to hear about the things we’ve been talking about in JRN 450.

In the first episode, Alex Blumberg talks about how he came up with the idea to document the process of starting his own digital media company—now Gimlet Media—and how to not pitch your idea to investors. He tried to pitch his idea to Chris Sacca, an investor and entrepreneur, and it didn’t go very well. Sacca told Blumberg to find a way to pitch his idea within a few minutes—like, within the time it takes for an investor to get an Uber. This is kind of what we did in class when pitching our media startup ideas within only one minute.

In the second episode of “StartUp,” Blumberg tries to pitch his idea again to Sacca’s partner, Matt Mazzeo. This time, it goes a lot better.

I appreciate how season one of this podcast documents the creation of Gimlet Media, which has recently been bought by Spotify for $230 million.

In an interview with Recode, Blumberg said joining Spotify and Gimlet together will make them “greater than the sum of their parts.”

“It felt like, well, if you put these two things together with the distribution, with the data, with the expertise in storytelling, and you put all that stuff together, what we could make together far outweighs what we could make separately,” he said to Recode. “That started to feel very compelling.”

Listening to the very beginning stages of what is now a very popular and successful digital media company is actually inspiring. It has also taught me how much time and effort goes into coming up with an idea, pitching it and convincing someone to invest in it. So many things must happen before a startup turns into something big.

Comparing the steps that Blumberg takes in the beginning of the “StartUp” podcast to the steps the groups in our JRN 450 class have taken in creating digital media companies is interesting. Each group is in a very early stage of creating a startup that will help journalism students connect with employers and find jobs/internships in the field, and knowing the current success of Gimlet is encouraging.

We might not sell our ideas for millions, but I’m hopeful that we will at least be able to create a useful tool for journalism students to use and to benefit from.

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