Startup

startup-podcast-coverI've just finished raising $1.5 million in investor dollars, building an office and growing a staff to start a new media company focused on narrative podcasts.

Okay, not really.

But I HAVE just finished listening to the first season of Alex Blumberg's podcast Startup, which documents his process of envisioning and then creating exactly that new company, Gimlet Media, from the very beginning. The show is so well done that I felt in on some of the best and worst moments in starting the business, and I learned a lot along the way.

Blumberg's narrative is thoughtful, insightful and detailed, but also full of heart and grit. It explores what really goes in to taking an idea and turning it into a real thing that will allow you to passionately pursue that idea: designing a business model, honing your pitch to supporters and investors, finding a co-founder, picking a name, managing your finances, transitioning from founding to producing and leading, and so on. It scrutinizes the impact this whole process has on personal identity, family and relationships. And it beautifully ties this one company's story into the larger landscape of startup business creation today.

Perhaps one of my favorite exchanges in the show comes during the last episode in the first season, when Blumberg is talking with investor Chris Sacca about the difference between building a lifestyle company (something that makes enough money for its founders and employees to live comfortably, but mostly focuses on remaining profitable) and a business that truly transforms a given problem space (sleep schedules, family life and personal health be damned). It gets to the heart of why we build businesses, why we trade stability and comfort for the trials of risking big to find something new. Alex Blumberg's on-air wrestling with these questions throughout the entire season often resonated deeply with my own experiences as a founder, and conveys and clarifies more than many business books or workshops I've ever encountered on the topic.

I commend Startup to anyone interested in the world of startup businesses, or just plain good storytelling.

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