Building an Obsessive Audience with theSkimm | Summary and Q&A

May 9, 2016
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Building an Obsessive Audience with theSkimm

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In this interview, the founders of theSkimm, a daily email newsletter for young women, discuss their inspiration for starting the company and their approach to creating engaging content. They also talk about their growth and success, including their viral marketing program and their recent launch of an iPhone app. The interview concludes with a discussion about their future plans and advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Questions & Answers

Q: What inspired the founders to quit their jobs and start theSkimm?

The founders were inspired to start theSkimm because of their own personal experience of friends and family asking them what was going on in the world. They realized there was a gap in the market for a news source that provided the information people needed to have intelligent conversations.

Q: How did the founders grow their subscriber base?

The founders initially emailed their contacts and asked them to sign up. They also encouraged their early subscribers to share the newsletter with their friends. This word-of-mouth marketing strategy, along with coverage from the press, helped them rapidly grow their subscriber base.

Q: How many subscribers does theSkimm have?

TheSkimm has over three and a half million subscribers, which is more than the digital subscribers of the New York Times.

Q: How did theSkimm create a viral marketing program?

The founders began by asking their readers to share the newsletter with their friends. They developed a pen pal relationship with some of their subscribers and started calling them brand ambassadors. They eventually formalized this program, and now have over 13,000 desk ambassadors across the country who have brought in over 19 percent of their overall user base.

Q: What is the revenue model for theSkimm?

The primary revenue stream for theSkimm is native advertising. They work with premium brands to create sponsored content that is clearly labeled as such. They also recently launched a subscription business with their iPhone app, which costs $2.99 a month.

Q: How do the founders ensure that the sponsored content does not compromise the integrity of their news reporting?

The founders make sure that the sponsored content never touches the actual news of the day. They have fun with the lifestyle elements, such as their logo, book section, and wine section. They are transparent with their audience about the sponsored content and only work with brands that they are proud of.

Q: Are there plans to raise more funding?

The founders currently have enough funding and are focused on launching new products. They have been able to generate significant revenue with their existing revenue streams and are not currently seeking additional funding.

Q: How do the co-CEOs make decisions together?

The co-CEOs make decisions together as a partnership. They have a unique relationship that began as friends and roommates before becoming business partners. They value each other's perspectives and make decisions based on what they believe is best for the company.

Q: How do the founders cover such a wide range of topics with a small team?

The founders do not claim to be experts on every topic they cover. They see themselves as translators, breaking down complex information into layman's terms. They rely on their training as former TV producers and their ability to understand what their audience wants to know.

Q: What is the future of theSkimm?

The founders see theSkimm as an audience company and want to continue creating products that make it easier for people to be smarter. They recently launched theSkimm Ahead, an iPhone app that provides a calendar of events. They have plans to expand beyond newsletters and offer more products in the future.

Q: What advice do the founders have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

The founders advise aspiring entrepreneurs to believe in their ideas and not give up, even in the face of rejection. They also emphasize the importance of knowing your audience and creating a product that meets their needs.

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