Ever since he was young, Shane McAnally knew he wanted to be a country music star. But as a gay man, he didn’t fit the Nashville mold, and so he hid his true identity for years as he struggled to break through. Little did he know that coming out would prove the key to his success. We created a playlist of Shane McAnally hits, from artists like Kenny Chesney and Kacey Musgraves. You can find it at https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0ixldv7V7QUegFLYo3k5RN?si=Slqyo5ypQO6LiRydT-PbTQ
Aline Brosh McKenna got her big break as the screenwriter of The Devil Wears Prada. But even after successful box office hits and many years in Hollywood, she found herself having to compromise her vision over and over again. So she took matters into her own hands.
Janice Bryant Howroyd’s company started in the front of a rug shop with just a phone, a fax machine, and a lot of hustle. 40 years later, that company is a huge multinational serving some of the biggest Fortune 500 companies in the world. It earns over a billion dollars in revenue, making Janice the first African-American woman to start and run a billion dollar business. But her journey to CEO wasn’t an easy one. Janice talks with Alex about the people who encouraged her down that path, and her ...more
Comedian Nick Kroll became a star by playing a cast of over-the-top characters like Bobby Bottleservice and Gil Faizon. But for years he was careful to keep his own story out of his comedy. Now, with his hit show Big Mouth, Nick is taking on his most challenging material yet: his adolescence.
This week, we’re sharing the first episode of Esther Perel’s new show How’s Work? In it, the couples therapist behind the beloved show Where Should We Begin? sits down with coworkers, cofounders and colleagues, and brings her inimitable perspective to workplace relationships and conflicts.
In November 1995, Ira Glass quietly launched the first episode of This American Life. The rest, as they say, is history. Today his show is a colossal success and Ira Glass is a household name. But in the intervening two decades, Ira has left an indelible mark on the industry by helping to shape hundreds of podcasts as well as hundreds of podcasters — including Alex. On this episode, Alex sits down with his mentor and former boss to talk about the early days at This American Life, what Ira taught...more
Nina Jacobson is a force in Hollywood. She’s behind some of the biggest movies of the last 20 years: The Sixth Sense, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hunger Games, and most recently Crazy Rich Asians. She’s had a lot of success. But also some pretty big failures: a public firing, some box office flops. Nina walks Alex through her failure resume and talks about what it takes to make a hit.
Dapper Dan made a name for himself as one of Harlem’s premier fashion designers in the 1980s, creating unique leather designs covered in counterfeit logos from brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton. But when the fashion houses found out, they shut him down. So how, 20 years later, did Dapper Dan make it to the top of the world that put him out of business? We created a playlist of some of the songs that name-drop Dapper Dan, from artists like LL Cool J, Missy Elliott, and Pusha T... You can find i...more
As acquisition talks with Spotify continue, Alex and Matt face their hopes and fears about what might lie ahead.
Just days before Thanksgiving, Alex and Matt board a red-eye to Stockholm for a conversation that could change everything.
It's the spring of 2018, four years after Alex and Matt launched Gimlet, and things are not going well. Audiences are flat, ad sales are flagging, and the company is burning through cash at an alarming rate. And with all of those pressures, Alex and Matt have started to fight.
Five years ago, StartUp began chronicling the life of a fledgling Brooklyn-based podcasting company called Gimlet Media. This year, the streaming giant Spotify bought that company. In the final season of StartUp, what it's really like to sell a business.
Alex introduces an episode of The Journal. about companies monitoring their workers. It's common, it's legal. And it can lead to employers having surprisingly personal information about the people who work for them.
Jenny Doan and her husband, Ron, lost most of their savings in the 2008 financial crisis. Retirement was just around the corner, and they didn’t know how they would make it through. That’s when the family went all-in on an unlikely business—a quilt shop.
As a Democrat from a red state, Senator Heidi Heitkamp built a reputation for her willingness to buck party pressure and reach across the aisle. But when Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court, she found herself facing a decision between her principles and her political fate.
When Elaine Welteroth was appointed editor in chief of Teen Vogue in 2015, she was the youngest and first black editor in the publication’s history. She set out to transform Teen Vogue into something more than just a fashion magazine...but Elaine had taken the helm of a publication in crisis.
Jerry Colonna was a high-flying venture capitalist in New York City at the height of the dot-com boom. He looked like the picture of success—but as time wore on, he felt more and more like a fraud. And when the boom went bust, it all began to unravel for him. Alex talks to Jerry about that struggle, and about how it led him to his current life as one of the most in-demand executive coaches—who just happens to be Alex’s own executive coach. This episode discusses suicide and mental illness. If yo...more
Actor Erika Alexander came of age at a moment when there were lots of Black TV shows airing in primetime. She got her break in the early ‘90s with a role on the Cosby Show, and found fame as fast-talking lawyer Maxine Shaw in the hit sitcom Living Single. But then the number of Black sitcoms airing on the major networks dwindled, and so did roles for Black actors. In this conversation with The Nod’s Eric Eddings, Erika talks about navigating Hollywood after that Black entertainment boom went bus...more
Gretchen Carlson, the long-time co-host of Fox & Friends, set off shockwaves in 2016 when she filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment against Fox News chairman Roger Ailes. Just two weeks later, he was ousted from the network. But it had taken years of enduring abusive behavior before the former Miss America spoke out — and she's not done yet.
Steven Canals was a virtual unknown when he co-created the award-winning TV series Pose. Set in the 1980s ballroom scene of New York, the show is unlike any prime time television drama that had come before it — and that is in large part because Steven Canals is unlike most other show creators in Hollywood. But getting Pose to the screen meant more than breaking down barriers for Steven; it meant coming to understand that the story could not be told without him.
Jeff Ullrich was a struggling business manager with a drinking problem and a waning sense of professional direction when, in 2010, he saw an opportunity: podcasting. It was a brand new medium, and no one had really tapped its potential. Together with comedian Scott Aukerman, Jeff founded Earwolf, one of the first podcast networks, and developed shows like How Did This Get Made? and Comedy Bang! Bang!. Jeff was one of the biggest names in the industry — and then he made a decision that got him er...more
When Edouardo Jordan’s Seattle restaurant JuneBaby won the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant last year, it was the first time that an African American chef had won that particular honor. Edouardo won for a restaurant that reclaims black southern food and proclaims its history. But he had spent years overlooking his culinary roots as he trained in high-end kitchens. It was a path he started down when, as a lowly cook in Tampa, Florida, he talked himself into a job at the famed restaurant ...more
Dave Morin’s love for the internet began when he was a geeky kid in Montana. By his early 20s, it had led him to Apple and then to Facebook, where he became employee number 29. He helped the company innovate, pursuing a deeply-held mission: letting people be themselves and share their lives on the internet. But when Facebook began to shift, deprioritizing user privacy, Dave left the company. And he tried to create his own social media utopia.
Anna Chlumsky became famous virtually overnight at the age of 10, when she starred in the 1991 hit My Girl opposite Macaulay Culkin. And then, a few years later, she disappeared. She left acting completely and decided to become something else: an utterly normal college student, who set off on an utterly normal career. Anna tells Alex about that time in her life, about her eventual return to acting, and about playing Amy Brookheimer on the HBO show Veep. She’s earned five Emmy nominations in that...more
In the days after September 11, 2001, Kenneth Feinberg took on an unenviable task. Congress had created the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, and it was his job to figure out who should receive money and how much they should get. But much of his time was spent doing something else: listening to people’s stories. Nearly two decades later, he’s still the person we turn to in the wake of our worst catastrophes.
Paul Holes was starting out in the field of criminology when, one day in 1994, he spotted a filing cabinet in the library of the crime lab where he was working. He opened a drawer, pulled out some files, and discovered the cold case that he would spend his entire career trying to solve. He did it through a trial and error process that involved old-fashioned detective work, new technology, and countless wrong turns before he finally found himself at the Golden State Killer’s front door.
In 1998, Patty McCord joined a new company called Netflix. Her title was chief talent officer. And over the next ten years as Netflix grew (and grew), she and CEO Reed Hastings built a new kind of workplace. They threw out all the usual rules -- no more expense authorization forms or vacation requests -- and focused on creating a culture of excellence. But that culture of excellence didn’t come only through hiring the right people. Patty had to get good at firing, too.
During the dot-com bubble, Henry Blodget was making millions of dollars as a top analyst on Wall Street. But when that bubble burst, his fortunes changed. He became the public face of a corruption investigation that ended with the SEC banning him from the securities industry — for life. Henry tells Alex about the supreme shame of that moment, and about how he eventually started over by founding a new venture, Business Insider.
Business Wars brings you the unauthorized, real story of what drives these companies and their leaders, inventors, investors and executives to new heights — or to ruin. Now playing: Death Row Records vs. Bad Boy Records. Subscribe and listen at wondery.fm/startup
For many businesses, it’s all about looking forward. New trends, new brands, new verticals. But Sharon Price John sees a different path: one that involves looking to the past. She has made a career of reinvigorating forgotten and failing brands, including Nerf, Stride Rite, and Barbie Fashions. But her career hasn’t been all success all the time. Alex talks to Sharon about a bet she made that went very wrong, and about her biggest turnaround yet, as the CEO and President of Build-a-Bear Workshop...more
Before 1970, the most popular radio stations in the U.S were run by white people. But that all changed when Percy Sutton helped to form Inner City Broadcasting with the mission of putting black programming in the hands of black people. Together he and his son Pierre—and later Pierre’s daughter, Keisha—built a radio empire. But it was about more than just entertaining listeners; together they changed the culture and radically influenced how radio stations and record labels treated black artists. ...more
Gimlet has a new show called Without Fail where Alex talks to all kinds of people — including entrepreneurs and business people — about their successes and their failures and what they’ve learned from both.We think these conversations are ones that StartUp listeners would enjoy, so we're bringing them to you here.Director and screenwriter Sam Esmail’s TV series Mr. Robot was an immediate hit when it premiered in 2015, turning him into one of the most in-demand showrunners in Hollywood. But he di...more
Eva Moskowitz calls Success Academy's high school the startup within the startup. And, as at any startup, there’s been a lot of chaos in its first few years. Magic five--it’s no longer working. The kids are questioning authority. Teachers are leaving. And parents want answers. But this year also marks Success Academy’s first graduating class. We’ll find out if Eva’s grand experiment comes with a big collegiate payoff.
Over the years, Success Academy has faced many existential threats. Eva has had to battle the most powerful man in New York City to fight for space for her schools. She has also had to defend her organization when a controversial video featuring a Success teacher was leaked to the New York Times. Today on the show, we watch Eva battle these setbacks, meeting both with a single-minded defense.
It’s no mystery that Success Academy has high expectations — not just for its teachers, but also for its parents and students. Having a high bar is the key to Success’ amazing results. But the charter network’s expectations can make life hard for families and kids who don’t quite make the mark. In this episode, we will hear from two families who ran headlong into Success Academy’s high expectations.-- Thanks to our sponsor, Cole Haan. You can hear more of Lisa and other Gimlet hosts in conversat...more
Success Academy has grown quickly — in just 12 years, the network has gone from one school in Harlem to 47 schools across New York City. In order to do this, Success has had to hire many inexperienced teachers, and move them up the ranks quickly. Amidst all this growth, there is a lot of pressure on the staff to continue performing at incredibly high levels. And Success has managed to keep crushing the state tests. In episode 4 of the series, we examine how growth has changed Success for better,...more
Success Academy’s state test results are truly remarkable — their students score in the top one percent in New York State, often beating out kids from the wealthiest districts. And the network's reputation is built on these results — it’s a big part of how they attract new students, win over donors, and get approval to open school after school.To find out how Success gets these scores, we go inside their test-taking machine. There are puppies and toys, “pump-up” songs, and a crazy event at the 1...more
Eva Moskowitz is the founder and CEO of Success Academy, the highest performing and most controversial charter school network in New York City, and the subject of this season of StartUp. To understand Success, you have to understand Eva.So on this episode, we go back to the beginning, looking at what got Eva interested in education in the first place, seeing the battles she fought on her way to starting Success, and watching as she opens her first schools. She cut her teeth serving on the New Yo...more
The Story: Eva Moskowitz wants to fix a really big problem. There are over a million kids in New York City’s public schools. Most can’t read or do math at grade level. Many won’t graduate on time. And it’s largely poor, black and brown kids who are stuck in the lowest performing schools. Eva’s the founder and CEO of Success Academy, the subject of this season of StartUp. And she’s actually making progress. Her school network is growing at lightning speed, and her students get among the highest s...more
Alex Blumberg sits down with the stars of the Homecoming TV show-- Julia Roberts and Stephan James, and director Sam Esmail-- to talk about how they came to the project and what it was like to film it.This is the final part of a four-part mini-series on the making of the Homecoming TV show.Want more StartUp? Check out our newsletter! You can sign up at: gimletmedia.com/newsletter.To find a list of our sponsors and show-related promo codes, go to gimlet.media/OurAdvertisers
Being in charge of a big-budget TV production means having to make decisions. It's a new kind of power for Micah and Eli, and one that's sometimes uncomfortable to exercise. The words they write have real-world, three-dimensional—and sometimes winged—consequences.This is the third part of a four-part mini-series on the making of the Homecoming TV show.Want more StartUp? Check out our newsletter! You can sign up at: gimletmedia.com/newsletter.To find a list of our sponsors and show-related promo ...more
Micah and Eli get to work, writing the scripts for the Homecoming TV show. But taking something meant only for the ear, and turning it into something for the eye... proves to be deceptively challenging. Plus, Alex visits the set of the show, to meet the small army of people actually building the visual world of Homecoming. This is the second part of a four-part mini-series on the making of the Homecoming TV show.Want more StartUp? Check out our newsletter! You can sign up at: gimletmedia.com/new...more
Two years ago, Gimlet released its first fiction podcast: Homecoming. Now, this November, a television series based on the hit podcast and starring Julia Roberts is launching. Alex Blumberg was behind the scenes as Homecoming went from podcast to TV production. In this first episode, Homecoming creators Eli Horowitz and Micah Bloomberg recount the journey, from concept to podcast to pitching the show to bigtime Hollywood producers. And we hear from some of the celebrities they met along the way...more
The Story:At the end of the last episode, co-founders Justin, Emmett, Michael, and Kyle had a big problem on their hands. Streaming Justin's life 24/7—the very idea their company was founded on—turned out to be kind of boring. Pretty soon people stopped watching. In this episode, the four friends try desperately to extend the life of their company by making some risky but important decisions. In the process, their scrappy startup catches the eye of some very powerful people who challenge everyth...more
The Story: A group of friends moves across the country to launch an unlikely website that they think could replace television. The media loves them. They just need to figure out how to get their users to feel the same way. This is part one of a two-part series that originally aired in April of 2016. The Facts:Matthew Boll and Peter Leonard mixed the episode. Our theme song was written and performed by Mark Phillips. For a list of our sponsors and show related offer codes, go to gimlet.media/OurA...more
The Story: In the evangelical world, there are very few female church planters. In 2012 only three percent of all conservative churches had women as lead pastors. In large part because one of their key theological beliefs is that women, according to the Bible, are not meant to lead churches. But there are other reasons too — maybe even bigger reasons. This is the story of one woman’s quest to do what all the boys were allowed to do… and how she tried to square what she wanted, with what lots of ...more
This is our fifth and final episode following pastor AJ Smith, who has been trying to grow a new church in Philadelphia. It’s a process that has come with all sorts of existential problems, but also… some very practical ones. In order for Restoration Church to become self-sustaining, it needed to double in size by the end of the year. We’re now half-way through that year and the big question is, how close are they? To cope with the stress of starting a church from scratch, and to seek clarity on...more
Hell, homosexuality, and the role of women in church — these are some of the most sensitive topics in Christian theology today. And the implications are huge: where an individual church stands on these issues can have a major effect on who does or does not attend, and … who gives money.A common critique of church plants is that they present as progressive, but at their core, many still hold very conservative beliefs. People can attend for months or even years without understanding where their ch...more
In the world of church planting, every Sunday counts… but there are a couple Sundays each year that can truly change the fate of a church. One of them: Easter. If you want to grab somebody who is open to church, but for whatever reason isn’t going, Easter is the time to do it. AJ and Leah need to double the size of Restoration by the end of this year, so they need this day to go well. They don’t have a fancy egg dropping helicopter or an egg shooting cannon like some churches do, but they do hav...more
It takes more than just a calling to start a church. You need a following. You need money. And to get that money, pastors often have to pass a kind of test. Welcome to the wild world of assessment. There’s whole industry of professional assessors who use psychological tests, behavioral interviews, role-playing scenarios and more, to try to determine if a pastor will be able to create a successful church. In this week’s episode, AJ goes to assessment camp — but he doesn’t go alone. Spouses are ...more
Every year, there’s a movement of thousands of pastors starting new churches — they call them church plants. It’s a world remarkably parallel to the tech industry, with incubators, growth metrics and, well, angel investors. One of these pastors, Watson Jones III, has dreams of starting a bustling new church in North Philly. But first, he has to figure out how to get people to show up. Watson might have the most difficult task of any founder in America: Convincing people who don’t know -- or even...more
For the last six months at StartUp, we have been following a group of pastors and their families who’ve shown us what it’s really like to start a church in modern America. It’s a movement of people trying to disrupt one of the oldest, most bureaucratic institutions in history: The Christian church. Here’s a sneak peek.
For seven months, Arlan Hamilton agreed to let StartUp reporter Amy Standen follow her around with a microphone and ask her all kinds of questions — from how much money she had raised for her venture capital firm, Backstage Capital, to where she slept when she couldn’t afford a place to live. Like many reporter-interviewee relationships, Arlan and Amy’s was complicated. At GimletFest, the two of them sat down to talk it out. Shereen Marisol Meraji, from NPR’s Code Switch podcast on race and iden...more
In our final episode of the series, Arlan is on a roll. She’s making new investments, raising her profile in the VC world, and bringing new people into her network. Some of her founders tell us why they really wanted investment from Backstage. And Arlan makes a surprise announcement that surprises her peers in Venture Capital.This is the final episode in our six-part series on Arlan Hamilton and her company, Backstage Capital. Listen from the very beginning here.To find a list of our sponsors an...more
In this week’s episode, Arlan tries to maintain control as investments fall through, she butts heads with a prominent investing platform, and we meet the Thelma to her Louise.This is the fifth episode in a six-part series on Arlan Hamilton and her company, Backstage Capital. Want more StartUp? Check out our newsletter! You can sign up at: gimletmedia.com/newsletter.To find a list of our sponsors and show-related promo codes, go to gimlet.media/OurAdvertisers
Arlan has only a few months left before her cash runs out out when a seemingly perfect opportunity comes along. Is it too good to be true? Also, we take a look at Arlan's past as an entrepreneur, before she became a venture capitalist. What did she learn? And can she avoid making the same mistakes?This is the fourth episode in a six-part series on Arlan Hamilton and her company, Backstage Capital. Want more StartUp? Check out our newsletter! You can sign up at: gimletmedia.com/newsletter. To fin...more
Like most venture capitalists, Arlan Hamilton plans to find the next billion dollar company by pattern matching—that's when VCs look to entrepreneurs who've been successful in the past and pick founders that match those qualities. Most VCs pattern match for people like Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos, but Arlan pattern matches for something different. How does Arlan predict who will be successful? And does she have the runway to prove out her theory?This is the third episode in a six-part series o...more
In this week’s episode we dive into what Silicon Valley considers “hustle” and how it may need to update its definition. We also find out how Arlan first got into venture capital—after months of sleeping on the floor at San Francisco International Airport. Plus, meet one venture capitalist who really gets Arlan’s goat.This is the second episode in a six-part series on Arlan Hamilton and her company, Backstage Capital. To find a list of our sponsors and show-related promo codes, go to gimlet.medi...more
Silicon Valley is leaving money on the table, and Arlan Hamilton will go to extremes to prove it. She's a venture capitalist like no other — black, female, gay — and she's out to prove that investors in the Valley are overlooking big returns they could tap into by investing in more outsiders. Arlan calls them "underestimated" founders, and she's planning to get as rich as Richard Branson by investing in them. But her thesis is still untested, and she's running out of time to show Silicon Valley ...more
What's it like having Zach Braff play you on TV? Alex gets to ponder that question with the man himself on stage at NYC Podfest. They also talk about Chris Sacca, swearing on podcasts, and crying at work in a conversation moderated by StartUp co-host Lisa Chow.To find a list of our sponsors and show-related promo codes, go to gimlet.media/OurAdvertisers
Season 7 of StartUp is almost here! On April 27th, we’re taking you into the world of venture capital with Silicon Valley’s most unlikely power broker: Arlan Hamilton. Here’s a sneak peek of our story.And are you looking for more Gimlet in your life? Then click here to view our guide to other Gimlet shows coming this spring.
Gimlet co-founders Alex Blumberg and Matt Lieber are pretty much on the same page… right? This week, we put their relationship to the test. Producer Luke Malone got Matt and Alex into separate studios and asked them the same set of questions. Then, Matt and Alex listened back to each other’s answers and find out if they’re really as in sync as they thought. Do the same things keep them up at night? Do they want the same things for the company? And what were their first impressions of one another...more
In honor of the release of the TV show Alex, Inc., we’re binge dropping episodes of StartUp—the podcast that started it all—along with brand-new after shows. These are the best episodes about Gimlet, as chosen by our listeners. The fifth is: Diversity Report.If you were to walk into Gimlet HQ in 2015, there’s something you’d notice right off the bat. It was very white. In this episode, Alex talks to his coworkers about diversity at Gimlet—what it means, and what the company can do to improve mov...more
In honor of the release of the TV show Alex, Inc., we’re binge dropping episodes of StartUp—the podcast that started it all—along with brand-new after shows. These are the best episodes about Gimlet, as chosen by our listeners. The fourth is: We Made a Mistake.Gimlet Media makes a mistake—one that plunges the young company into the center of an internet controversy. In the after show, Alex takes one last listener call, and is challenged by one of his producers.For a list of our sponsors and show...more
In honor of the release of the TV show Alex, Inc., we’re binge dropping episodes of StartUp—the podcast that started it all—along with brand-new after shows. These are the best episodes about Gimlet, as chosen by our listeners. The third is: How to Name Your Company.Alex and Matt need a company name. But finding one they both like proves to be a challenge. In this after show, Alex takes a listener question about naming the company.For a list of our sponsors and show related offer codes, go to gi...more
In honor of the release of the TV show Alex, Inc., we’re binge dropping episodes of StartUp—the podcast that started it all—along with brand-new after shows. These are the best episodes about Gimlet, as chosen by our listeners. The second is: How to Divide an Imaginary Pie.Alex decides that he can't build the company by himself, so he links up with co-founder Matt Lieber. But before Alex and Matt can lock in their partnership, they need to discuss one pesky little detail… equity. In the after sh...more
In honor of the release of the TV show Alex, Inc., we’re binge dropping episodes of StartUp—the podcast that started it all—along with brand-new after shows. These are the best episodes about Gimlet, as chosen by our listeners. The first is: How Not to Pitch a Billionaire.In this episode, Alex explains how he got the idea to document the start of his own company. He talks with his wife Nazanin about what shoes to wear to his first investor pitch. And then, there’s that… infamous first pitch to C...more
All this week we’ve been following StartupBus, a hackathon on wheels, where a bunch of strangers come together to launch companies in one week, all while on a bus. If you haven’t heard Monday’s episode, start there.It’s Friday, the fifth and final day of StartupBus. By the end of today, one company will be crowned the winner of the competition. But before the final pitches take place, a mysterious opponent emerges to challenge the five finalists.
Every day this week we’re following StartupBus, a hackathon on wheels, where a bunch of strangers come together to launch companies in one week, all while on a bus. If you haven’t heard Monday’s episode, start there.It’s Thursday, day four on StartupBus. The bus has finally arrived in New Orleans, where teams from all six buses will go up against one another and pitch for a spot in the finals. By the end of the day, only five teams will be left standing. And a behind-the-scenes look at the judgi...more
Every day this week we’re following StartupBus, a hackathon on wheels, where a bunch of strangers come together to launch companies in one week, all while on a bus. If you haven’t heard Monday’s episode, start there.It’s Wednesday, day three on StartupBus. Teams have just 24 hours left to refine their pitches before the competition begins. And reporter Eric Mennel sits down with some of the bus riders to learn more about why they signed up for this unusual hackathon in the first place.
Every day this week we’re following StartupBus, a hackathon on wheels, where a bunch of strangers come together to launch companies in one week, all while on a bus. If you haven’t heard Monday’s episode, start there.It’s Tuesday, day two on StartupBus. Now that teams have settled on ideas for their companies, it’s time to start building. But when tension runs high, one company considers kicking one of their own members off the team.
This summer, 20 strangers got on a bus headed from New York to New Orleans. For five days, they had one goal: to build and launch companies while on the bus. We’ll be telling this story as it unfolded — with one new episode, every day, over the next five days.Today’s episode: Monday. Day One.
This past summer, 20 strangers got on a charter bus headed from New York to New Orleans. For three days they had one goal: Build and launch companies from inside the bus. And then? Compete against each other.Reporter Eric Mennel documented it all. And next week, it drops as a five-day, in-real-time miniseries.
When a group of college kids in Florida set out to change the music industry, they did not anticipate how disruptive they would be. Their mission was a noble one: bring an end to online piracy by offering cheap, convenient, and legal access to music. Their execution, however, was less than thorough. And when you’re dealing with protective music labels, forgetting to dot an “i” or cross a “t” can mean being one lawsuit away from the swift and unceremonious collapse of your company.This is the sto...more
On the last episode of StartUp, we followed the government-sponsored desert race that launched the self-driving car industry. This week, we see what the industry looks like today. You’ve probably heard that Google, Uber, and Tesla are pumping resources into developing autonomous vehicles. But there are plenty of smaller, younger companies in the space. What are they doing to keep up with the major players?
In 2004, the U.S. government held a race unlike anything that had come before it. It was called the DARPA Grand Challenge, and it followed a 150-mile route through the rugged Mojave Desert. The participants were cars, trucks, ATVs, and one motorcycle. The catch? Each vehicle was required to drive itself—no remote control, no human intervention. Dozens of engineers and robot enthusiasts worked relentlessly to make it happen. The Carnegie Mellon team was a favorite, but every team faced hurdles—fr...more
Kik, a chat app popular with teenagers, launched in 2010. Users flocked to it, and within a few years it was valued at a billion dollars. Then a new competitor came on the chat scene: Facebook. When Kik started struggling to grow their revenue and find new investors, they landed on a wild new idea. Now they’re betting their company’s future on creating their own cryptocurrency.Listen to Gimlet's newest podcast, Uncivil, wherever you get your podcastsApple Podcasts | Overcast | Stitcher | Pocketc...more
Earlier this year, we asked listeners to call us with questions for Gimlet Founder Alex Blumberg. Alex answered a bunch of them in an episode last season. But one caller’s question was so big, it needed its own episode. Skyler Gronholz had decided to make a podcast about starting up his life again after several years in prison. But he was anxious about making something bad, and wanted Alex’s advice. In this week’s episode, we find out: can making a podcast about your life actually change the way...more
China is on a mission to upgrade its international reputation. The government doesn’t want people to see the country as just the world’s factory for socks and toys and cell phones. It wants people around the globe to think China is cool. And it’s tried a bunch of different things to do that, including building a global pop star. But can China change its image through the power of pop music?
Lisa Chow and Alex Blumberg sit down together to talk about the future of StartUp.And, we introduce you to Gimlet Media's newest podcast The Nod. Co-hosted by Brittany Luse and Eric Eddings, The Nod celebrates and explores the multitudes of Black culture and Black life. For more information, visit gimletmedia.com/thenod.
Jasen Yang gave up the security of a high-paying Wall Street job to launch his company, Polly Portfolio. It’s been three years since then, and Jasen still isn’t taking a salary. It’s put a lot of strain on his family, and made it difficult for Jasen and his wife, Lynn, to make important decisions about their future. So we brought in executive coach Jerry Colonna, who helped Jasen find the unlikely source of his anxiety.
Gary Kremen owned one of the most valuable domain names in the history of the internet. And then one day, he lost it in the most unusual way. For years, Gary fought to win back his domain “sex dot com." The legal battle transformed the way the courts treat virtual property. But in the end, was his lengthy and expensive crusade worth it?
StartUp is back for a brand new season, and we're kicking things off with a story about the competitive world of domains.Reporter Amy Standen brings us the story of Rick Schwartz, who earned the title “Domain King” by building a portfolio of dot com web addresses worth millions. But why is a “.com” address worth so much in the first place? And why doesn’t Gimlet own “gimlet.com”?And coming up this season, we'll hear from startups in unexpected places. We'll go to the Mojave Desert for a self-dr...more
StartUp returns September 1st with a brand new season. Here's a preview of what's coming up in Season 6.And are you looking for more Gimlet in your life? Then click here to view our guide to other Gimlet shows returning this fall.
Mokhtar Alkhanshali is trying to produce the perfect cup of coffee. And he’s trying to do it with beans grown in the midst of an active war zone in Yemen. Despite those challenges, his company’s first batch earned rave reviews, and sold for $16 a cup at one of the fanciest coffee chains around. But can he turn that early success into a profitable business, or will the challenges of trying to achieve perfection using a supply chain that starts halfway around the world do his young company in?
You called with your questions. Alex Blumberg has your answers—about growth, diversity at Gimlet and, oh yeah, that ABC sitcom that’s currently being made about the first season of StartUp.
Mason Gordon’s dream is to create a new global team sport, something that hasn’t happened since basketball came on the scene in the 1890s. But Mason is determined. He invented Slamball—an amped up combination of basketball and football that’s played on trampolines—nearly twenty years ago. He had some splashy early success and got two seasons on TV. And then Slamball seemingly disappeared. But Mason is still at it, and now Slamball is surging in popularity on the other side of the globe.
Jason from Bento started a business that prepared and delivered pan-Asian meals on demand. Lauren and Emma from Dating Ring wanted to reinvent online dating. Mary from Saint Harridan made sharp suits for masculine women and trans men. And Mike moved food across international borders, evading employees of a large grocery store chain. This episode, we return to some of the companies we followed in previous seasons and find out how their founders are doing—and what the label “entrepreneur” means to...more
Hello, there! This week we’re rebroadcasting an episode from way back in Season 2 when we were following Dating Ring, a company that was different from other dating sites and apps because it used matchmakers to help its customers go out on dates. This episode picks up just after the co-founders of the company, Lauren and Emma, finished Y Combinator and started pitching angel investors. You’ll hear them struggle to raise money—while wondering if their company was floundering for reasons completel...more
Researchers who think about the thorny problem of feeding our growing global population have started to point at one possible solution: bugs. They’re protein-rich and ecologically sustainable—but can bug entrepreneurs get lots of Americans to eat something they’re kinda grossed out by?
Jake Glanville and his small biotech startup are trying to beat big pharmaceutical companies and major research institutions to a potentially game-changing medical breakthrough: the universal flu vaccine.
This week on StartUp we’re listening in as executive coach Jerry Colonna sits down with Diana Lovett, the founder of a socially responsible chocolate company called Cissé Cocoa. In the episode, they tackle something that many founders struggle with—how to balance entrepreneurship and parenthood.
After a turbulent start and the firing of its founder, Friendster looked like it was back on track. It was still the biggest social network around and its board—which was packed with some of the biggest names in venture capital—quickly assembled a star-studded executive team. So, why couldn’t all that talent deliver on the company’s promise? Why aren’t we all logging onto Friendster today? Ask AlexGot a question for Alex Blumberg? Leave us a message at 812-641-1231, and your question could end u...more
In 2003, Jonathan Abrams was sitting atop one of the hottest new companies in Silicon Valley. He and his website were at the forefront of an industry that would eventually be worth more than $400 billion. So, what went wrong?--Ask AlexGot a question for Alex Blumberg? Leave us a message at 812-641-1231, and your question could end up on the show.
In 1983 a guy named Stuart Anders invented a toy that would become a huge hit -- one of the biggest fad toys of a generation. But the toy world can be treacherous, and Stuart's big idea left him broke. Now he's back with a new toy and a surprising ally.
Following his ousting from American Apparel, Dov Charney has been eager to restart and launch his new venture—Los Angeles Apparel. He has assembled the fabric, the equipment, and the people to help make his new clothing line. Now he needs to find his customer base.In this, the season finale of StartUp, Charney debuts his product to a group of people that knows his history well. But will his past prove to be an obstacle, or become part of what leads his new business to success?
In the spring of 2014, the American Apparel board offered Dov Charney two options: forfeit your position as CEO and stay on as a creative consultant or be removed from the company entirely. Charney chose the latter, and it became big news. It’s a story that has followed Charney as he starts his new business. But there are two accounts of what happened at American Apparel: Dov’s and the board’s. In this episode, we explore the moments that led up to Charney’s ousting, and the fallout from a found...more
In 2007, Dov Charney took American Apparel public, placing the company under heightened scrutiny. This meant Charney lost the privacy and autonomy he’d grown accustomed to. And, as more stories emerged from inside the company, some began to reevaluate the man they’d chosen to work with.
While Dov Charney was running American Apparel, he didn’t shy away from unconventionality. And for many entrepreneurs, breaking convention is an essential part of growing an innovative company. But pushing boundaries is one thing. Completely ignoring them is another.In this episode, we explore the nebulous lines between Charney’s professional and personal relationships. We ask the the women of American Apparel what it was like to work for the former CEO and how, in a company where the boundaries...more
In this episode, we trace American Apparel’s rise from the early wholesale days in South Carolina to the booming retail behemoth that the company eventually became. We speak with some of the people closest to Dov Charney along the way, in order to figure out how his past informs the present.We also begin to explore how sexuality came to define the American Apparel brand, and how Dov’s unorthodox business practices and questionable personal behavior led to widespread scrutiny about what was reall...more
Dov Charney is trying to rebuild a multi-million dollar apparel company from the ground up. But he can’t do it alone. In this episode, we’ll hear from the people who have signed on to work with Charney, the people who have remained loyal to him since the early days of American Apparel, and those who have been inspired to join him in his new venture.The commitment Charney receives from his workers feels like a double-edged sword—the more they devote their time and energy to his new company, the m...more
Season 4 of StartUp continues with the story of a well-known entrepreneur who built a widely recognized business, lost it all, and is now starting over—from scratch.Over the next several episodes, we’ll hear as this founder makes his second attempt at success, and creates an entirely new company in the shadow of his controversial past.
This week, Alex receives feedback about his job performance from his co-workers, friends, and family. Some of it is good, some less so. But there is something else that comes up during the review process that shocks him.We explore what happens when you unpack your emotional baggage—or someone unpacks it for you—and you realize the unexpected effect that it has been having on your team.In this final Gimlet-focused episode of season four, we take a raw and intimate look at a defining moment in the...more
Growth. It can be exciting, it can be motivating, and it can be really stressful. In this week’s episode, we take a look at the tensions that Gimlet’s growth spurt is creating. We speak with the team producing one of our upcoming shows to see what it’s really like to build a podcast from the ground up. Each of them is being asked to step up to the plate in a way that they never have before, and some are realizing that the support they expected, it just isn’t there. People are pushed to their lim...more
StartUp is back! And we’re kicking Season 4 off with an update on what’s happening here at Gimlet Media. Since the start of the year, Gimlet has more than doubled in size. And while growth is often the goal for a startup, it also costs a lot of money. In this episode, Alex and his team ask themselves some very scary questions: How are they going to pay for all this growth? And what will happen if they can’t? With a larger staff and six new shows launching in the fall, this feels like a particula...more
Season 4 of StartUp is almost here. Here's a sneak peek of the fourth season, which kicks off with some episodes about the company that makes this podcast: Gimlet Media.Since we last checked in on Gimlet HQ, the company has grown a ton. And with growth, come the growing pains. Season 4 of StartUp premieres on October 6.
Something is amiss at 2680 Madison Road. In the thriving Cincinnati neighborhood of Hyde Park, the property is sandwiched between several decades-old Cincinnati staples, and a stone’s throw away from an upscale shopping center. The space is huge, the parking is ample. And yet, the building has been abandoned for five years. Seven different businesses have cycled through the address over the last thirty years. It seems that every business that inhabits its four walls is destined to fail.Alex Blum...more
Edgar Diaz has dedicated his life to dairy. He sees an incredible beauty in milk and the things that can come from it: soft cheese, rich dulce de leche, and creamy yogurt.He knows that to produce a really good yogurt, the conditions are just as important as the ingredients. You can use the freshest milk, but if your temperature is off or the timing inexact you risk ruining the whole batch.Edgar has a lot in common with some of the world’s most successful founders: intense passion, a deep knowled...more
Coss Marte went from running a multi-million dollar drug operation to sitting in solitary confinement. And it’s here, alone in his cell, where he gets the idea for his next business: a fitness company inspired by his time behind bars. But Coss quickly learns that building a legal business comes with its own set of challenges—one being that pitching your company on stage to a bunch of investors requires a slightly different approach to selling an eight-ball outside a busy New York club.Building a...more
Coss Marte is getting ready to pitch his company to a panel of prominent entrepreneurs and an audience of hundreds. He’s competing against five other startups for a chance at $100,000. With this money, Coss hopes to grow his small exercise studio in the Lower East Side of Manhattan into an international fitness brand. But this isn’t his first experience with scaling up. In his early twenties, Coss ran a business that brought in nearly $4 million in annual revenue, a business that catered to doct...more
Two men decide to start a company. Everything is going well... until it’s not. That’s the moment they decide to start recording their conversations—painful, awkward, emotional conversations.Jason and Vincent launched Bento about a year ago. Their goal was to make Pan-Asian food fresh, tasty, and on-demand. They joined the food tech swell just as it was winding down, just as the funding was drying up, just as the smaller players were being weeded out. With only a year under their belt and a quick...more
It’s not uncommon for shoppers to walk out of Mary Going’s store feeling on top of the world. Mary runs Saint Harridan, a company that makes custom suits for the gender non-conforming. With her store, Mary has created a space that caters to the needs of butch women and trans men—something that doesn’t happen very often. Her fans are enthusiastic and dedicated, her products are selling out… and she can barely pay her rent.Saint Harridan is struggling to raise enough money to cover basic costs. Ma...more
When a group of college kids in Florida set out to change the music industry, they did not anticipate quite how disruptive they would be. Their mission was a noble one: bring an end to online piracy by offering cheap, convenient, and legal access to music. Their execution, however, was less than thorough. And when you're dealing with protective music labels, forgetting to dot an "i" or cross a "t" can mean being one lawsuit away from the swift and unceremonious death of your company.This is the ...more
Mike is on a mission to bring his customers something they desperately want. Every week, he embarks on a long and unpredictable journey across international borders and smuggles back some highly sought-after goods. And though what he’s doing is technically legal, Mike goes to unusual lengths to evade authorities who want to shut his whole operation down.What Mike does is a hassle. He’s tired, he’s ready to move on. Still, he can’t seem to shake it, and finds himself stuck running a business he n...more
We pick up where we left off in the last episode, and hear how Justin, Emmett, Michael, and Kyle try to extend the life of their video-streaming company by making some risky but important decisions. In the process, their scrappy startup catches the eye of some very powerful people who challenge everything they’ve built.The road of a startup is a bumpy one and, as Justin and his team are finding out, they have only just gotten started.
Welcome to the first episode of Season 3! This season, we’re doing something new. Instead of following one company over many episodes, we’ll be telling the stories of a bunch of different companies. This season, you’ll meet entrepreneurs from different parts of the world, in all sorts of businesses. We’ll follow prisoners, tailors, smugglers, and tech geeks. And these founders all actually have something in common: their companies are stuck, and they know they need to make a big change. But they...more
Season 3 launches Thursday, April 14th
As we wrap up this mini-season, Lisa Chow comes back from maternity leave and notices some big changes at Gimlet. And these changes... they aren't all for the better. Lisa talks to Gimlet employees about concerns over power, accountability, and control - things that crop up when you go from startup, to regular company. And she takes those concerns to the bosses. Music for the episode from the band Hot Mom's Dot Gov. Our theme song was composed and performed by Mark Phillips. Ad music from the ba...more
If you were to walk into Gimlet HQ, there are a few things you’d probably notice right off the bat. First, it’s crowded - like a grungy dorm room. Second, the lighting… it’s not great. Not many windows. Third, it’s white. Really white. 24 of Gimlet’s 27 employees are white. In this episode, we look at diversity (or lack thereof) at Gimlet. And we try to figure out what diversity should mean for the company going forward. The Facts:Our theme song was written and performed by Mark Phillips.John Ki...more
Gimlet is growing fast. We have four shows on the air, and several others in pre-production. If we want to grow faster, though, we could use some more cash. Matt and Alex head back into the world of venture capital, deciding whether or not to raise another round of financing, this time, much bigger.Our theme song was written and performed by Mark Phillips.John Kimbrough composed music for this episode.More music written and performed by John Delore along with his band mates, Jordan Scanella, Sam...more
Gimlet is starting a new line of business, and it’s a complicated one: Branded content. Branded content is a piece of media (a video, a story, a podcast, etc.) paid for by a company that then has editorial control over the product. Lots of companies have been asking Gimlet to make podcasts for them. But, as we see in this episode, there are some very real anxieties about how to do this right. As part of this episode, we’ve put together Gimlet Media’s Advertising Guidelines. You can find them on ...more
Gimlet is making a big, expensive bet. The kind of bet that could make or break the company. And it’s a bet that comes down to one factor: What is Gimlet’s competitive advantage? As the company launches its fourth new show, “Surprisingly Awesome,” we take a deep dive in to how the show was made. From the kernel of an idea to the final product. And, along the way, we look at what we believe is Gimlet’s secret formula for making podcasts.The Facts:Our theme song was written and performed by Mark P...more
We return to the offices of Gimlet for the start of a new mini-season. It's been a year since the company launched and things are changing... fast. In this episode, Alex and his wife, Nazanin, wrestle with a huge decision that has implications for both the company and their family.
A Gimlet update and a special announcement
Lessons learned in business and love
Under pressure, the Dating Ring founders make a big decision
Lauren and Emma visit the CEO Whisperer
A golden opportunity sows seeds of doubt
In online dating, love is not blind
Inside Dating Ring's Matchmaking System
Save The Date (S2 Ep4) by Gimlet
Welcome to fundraising
Inside the Startup School Y Combinator
First comes love...then comes equity StartUp is a podcast series about what it’s really like to get a business off the ground. In Season 1, Alex Blumberg told the story of launching this business, Gimlet Media, a podcast network. In Season 2, Alex is joined by co-Host Lisa Chow, to follow an entirely new company. The business is Dating Ring, a dating company that combines technology with old-fashioned matchmaking. The founders are women in their 20s, outsiders in the male-dominated world of Sili...more
An end and a beginning
Episode 13 addresses a question that has been dogging us since the company’s beginnings: Are we a technology company or a content company?This question led to months of debate. Many voices weighed in on either side, including Marco Arment, the lead developer of Tumblr and creator of Instapaper, who came in surprisingly anti-tech.A few weeks back, we had a breakthrough when one of the most successful tech companies in the world paid a visit to the Gimlet Media headquarters.SPOILER: Check out the ...more
Recovering from a breaking pointThanks to everyone who took our listener survey last week. To see the results, visit: https://hearstartup.typeform.com/report/ofUGcO/wheU
Lessons on building an audience While working on this episode, we realized we want to know more about our audience. So, we created a survey. It takes about two minutes to complete, and you can find it at startuplistener.com We would be very grateful if you took the time to help us learn more about our listeners. Thanks!
Lessons on outgrowing your business plan
Gimlet Media addresses a company mistake.
Welcome, Reply All
Are you ready to invest in Gimlet Media?
It's all about your story.
Choosing a favorite is only the beginning.
StartUps are a risky business, but there's lots of reasons to write a check.
How much of your company should you give up when you bring on a partner?
Dreaming big is harder than you'd think.
This is a series about what happens when someone who knows nothing about business starts one. It's called StartUp. In episode one, Alex Blumberg botches his pitch to Silicon Valley billionaire Chris Sacca.