Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin created a daily newsletter in 2012 to summarize popular news stories. Today, theSkimm has more than 5 million subscribers, as well as an app, videos, and a marketing tool.
Ladders spoke to Weisberg and Zakin via email about the lessons they’ve learned and their thoughts on the future of work.
Ladders: What have you learned from starting a business?
Weisberg and Zakin: We’ve learned that you never stop learning. Though the pain points we had when it was the two of us on our couch are much different from those we have as a 40+ person team in our third office, we’re so grateful to have an incredible network of investors and advisors who have been there before and can continue to help us navigate.
What is your definition of success?
To us, success is something that is constantly evolving. We still really don’t consider theSkimm a success, and that’s important to our culture, but we always take time to celebrate milestones, big or small. Product launches, new hires, closed deals, or finally getting to inbox zero.
We love popping champagne or ringing the bell in HQ to announce an accomplishment, but our team is scrappy and hungry. We’re always pushing for more.
What advice would you give on how to be a strong employee?
Be nimble. At theSkimm, our employees are not only exceedingly good at what they do (humble brag), but they can be all around athletes as well. One of our core values is that “Nobody is too senior to do something. Nobody is too junior to do something.”
It’s literally written on our wall. One minute you’re throwing big ideas across the table, another you’re responding to community feedback, the next you’re literally taking out trash.
How has technology affected your company and leadership?
Our best piece of advice when starting a business would be to take a coding class. Understanding tech and analytics is the foundation of understanding our audience.
Our first hire was a growth hacker, and today a third of our company is made up of incredibly talented engineers and data analysts — we’re investing heavily in building out those teams as we continue to expand our product suite.
What do you think is the future of work?
We hope that the future of work involves knowing an audience and meeting them where they are. That is a central tenant of theSkimm. We have seen so much good content not rise because there is just so much good content out there.
Because of that, we focus on what this audience is doing and when they actually need this information — instead of creating content just to create.