TheSkimm Founders Share Advice on Starting a Successful Company With Your Friend
Categories: Career

TheSkimm Founders Share Advice on Starting a Successful Company With Your Friend

Even if you aren’t one of theSkimm’s 3.5 million subscribers, you’ve probably heard about the daily current events newsletter for busy readers on-the-go from fans like Oprah, Michelle Obama or Sarah Jessica Parker. With smart insights about world events (like election issues broke 20-somethings need to follow) and a major infusion of pop culture and humor, theSkimm gets us. We talked with the two women behind the company, Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg, about theSkimm’s newest product and what it’s really like starting a company with your friend (and roommate).

Just this month, Carly and Danielle launched Skimm Ahead, an app that keeps you even more up-to-date on the most important things in the news, like when to tune in to the next Republican presidential debate or when Adele is coming to town. You can even sync everything you need to know in the upcoming month directly with your iCal for easier smartphone access.

“We knew that in order to be shrewd to our mission statement we needed to integrate into what they [their audience] were already doing with their phone. And for people running around all day, the answer is really in our hands. When we wake up in the morning, we don’t know where we are going first, so we wanted to create a product that solved that for our audience,” Danielle says. 

The big reveal of Skimm Ahead comes only three years after Carly and Danielle launched the company from their couch. As good friends and roommates, the two women trusted and respected each other a lot. But with all the challenges that come with launching an idea, including making tough decisions, we’re impressed that they’ve managed to start a mega-successful tech company and still remain besties. Especially since they worked non-stop from the same apartment for the first year and a half.

According to theSkimm gals, it helps to be friends for a long time before going into business together. Carly and Danielle met when they were in college studying abroad in Rome then later connected when they both landed jobs at NBC. They eventually became roommates, then started theSkimm when they were 25 and 24. In other words, don’t just ask that girl in your group with similar interests to start a company with you.

“Don’t do it all at once. It’s not like one day we were like, ‘Let’s be friends and start a company.’ It’s a very gradual thing. Both of us can’t imagine doing this alone. It’s a very lonely thing to start something. It’s great to have a partner that understands,” Carly says. “I think we’re really lucky to have a tremendous amount of trust. We know that you can’t just create that. Trust is there or it’s not,” said Carly.

Not being clones of each other personally or professionally has also been to their benefit. “I think if you had asked me when we started we would have said we had the exact same skills. But over the years, we’ve developed different management styles, and I think we have different personalities. That has been really helpful,” Danielle says.

Three years after launching theSkimm, their company and their friendship are still going strong. We hope other co-founders learn from Carly and Danielle before jumping into business together.

Have you thought about starting a company with a friend? Tell us @BritandCo!

(Photos via theSkimm.com)