There’s a good chance when you woke up this morning, you rolled over and checked your phone. Deleted spam email, scrolled through Twitter, took an “I woke up like this” selfie. There’s also a pretty good chance you read theSkimm, the pared down, to-the-point, but still somehow totally entertaining newsletter. Because pretty much everyone I know reads it.
If you’re unfamiliar with theSkimm (then sign up here), it’s like the front page of the paper, boiled down to the key facts, and presented in a way that makes it sound like your best friend (or maybe even Amy Poehler) called you up to tell you what’s going on in the world. It covers everything from international relations and Washington, D.C politics, to business and finance, and celebrity news.
The brains behind the newsletter? Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg, two twentysomething friends, roommates and former NBC News employees. We recently got a chance to catch up with the duo about their big idea, how it comes together everyday, what they wish they’d learned before starting it, and more.
Here’s what they had to say.
WHAT GAVE YOU THE IDEA TO START theSkimm? HOW DID IT COME TO BE?
theSkimm came from our friends — busy, smart, successful women who needed to stay informed but didn’t have the time to comb through all of the information out there or necessarily the interest to venture outside of their field. As two former NBC News producers, who also grew up as total news junkies, we were paid to know what was going on. Our friends would come to us with their questions and we pretty much acted as an information concierge, giving a quick rundown on what was going on in the world for that meeting, interview, date, family dinner, etc.
WHAT WERE THE EARLY DAYS LIKE AND WHAT’S BEEN THE BIGGEST PINCH-ME MOMENT SO FAR?
theSkimm is not even two years old so the early days are still pretty fresh in our memory. We ran theSkimm out of our apartment up until January so having an office is still a very new concept. We didn’t hire our first Skimm team member until January either. To get theSkimm off the ground, we really ran on adrenaline and ambition. One of the things we learned was to take time to celebrate when good things happen, instead of just rushing through it, because there will be a lot of lows along the way.
Quitting our jobs was probably the biggest pinch-us moment so far. We had grown up wanting to have careers in network news and leaving them was a total out of body experience. The other pinch me moment happens every day when we walk into the office and go ‘omg, this is ours.’
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT THE DAILY PROCESS OF PUTTING THE NEWSLETTER TOGETHER.
We’re combing through the news on our phones and computers all day, but around 4pm we start to comb through everything that is out there. We have a formal pitch meeting with our editorial team where we set the rundown. Then we write, edit, and fact check a first pass — that is updated in shifts until the newsletter goes out at 6AM EST. Then we go back to bed…for a little while, at least.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN YOUR EMPLOYEES?
People who love and read theSkimm, who are smart, ambitious, and who we genuinely like to be around. It’s a very small office and a very small team so you want to be around people who feel ownership over the company and work together to get it off the ground.
WHERE DO YOU HOPE THE COMPANY WILL BE IN FIVE YEARS?
theSkimm wants to own the morning routines for the female millennial.
WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE TO BUDDING FEMALE ENTREPRENEURS OUT THERE?
Take a coding class. We didn’t and it’s something we wish we had more of a background in, if only to be able to communicate with our developers more intelligently. Also, take a vacation before you think of starting a business. It will be a very long time before you get another chance.