Mckenna Ross

When a journalist becomes an entrepreneur

The entire time I listened to Gimlet Media’s first season of “StartUp,” I felt like I was basically streaming NPR on one specific topic for two hours. It was awesome.

Alex Blumberg, a former public radio producer and journalist, made it his mission to document the start of his business, a for-profit podcast streaming company. He narrates through his experiences of pitching to venture capitalists, finding a business partner, even picking a name. It’s a refreshing and entertaining way to basically read someone’s life story.

To be honest, I didn’t even realize this podcast was about the origins of Gimlet Media until, like, the third episode. (Oops). Listeners got to journey through every aspect in a very truthful and first-person way. What was once American Podcasting Corporation that couldn’t find its footing with media angel investors turned into the audio streaming service behemoth that is now being sold to Spotify. It’s crazy to think that I was listening to this five-year-old podcast about some former journalist trying to scrape together some cash to launch his dream. Now that dream is producing 25 shows and such a dominant force in the podcasting industry that another audio giant bought it.

If there’s anything I have learned from this podcast — besides that I need to listen to more narrative audio pieces — is there are a lot of sacrifices that go into creating a successful business. Perseverance is key. Alex and his co-founder Matt Lieber quit their jobs to dedicate themselves to pitching, creating content, making business plans, and more. Starting a business is a job without actually getting paid. If I were to ever start a business, I’d have to get very comfortable with business loans and not having a steady paycheck. Yes, journalism doesn’t pay much but at least it’s more than debt.

But if you find a project you are so passionate about and can really make into a powerhouse, then you should do it. After all, StartUp is such a successful show that it’s on its third season and has five million downloads monthly. Successful people push through adversary, constantly ask advice from others to apply to their own experiences, and use every resource available to them. Alex was able to make this company because he connected with the important people to guide him through Gimlet’s creation and launch.

The podcast itself proof that having an idea is great. Documenting your experience is even better because one day, all that tape will make for a great story.

3 thoughts on “When a journalist becomes an entrepreneur

  1. I agree that this podcast teaches a lot about the sacrifices of starting a business, all the trials and tribulations. But passion will lead us to success, we just have to be hungry for the work and fight like hell to make things happen for us. It’s more than just a good idea, it’s the passion associated with making that idea come to life. Great piece!


  2. I like how you pointed out that starting a business requires a lot of sacrifices. I think this is something that a lot of people don’t think about when they start a business or even when they think about entrepreneurs. We often think that things just magically work out for them, but like you pointed out, the story is much more complicated than that. Startups become successful because someone had the bravery to make big sacrifices.


  3. You’re not alone in not realizing that it was 5 years old, or about a company that was being sold to Spotify just days before we listened to the podcast! He gave us a very raw and emotional look into the process he went through to try and make his dreams come true.


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