Skimm Team Opening!

Full Time Web Developer with Ruby Experience
THE COMPANY:
theSkimm is at the forefront of creating a next generation media company, redefining how consumers get their news. theSkimm is the fastest growing e-newsletter on the market with unprecedented engagement and complete organic growth. theSkimm will be the definitive way in which consumers get the information they need to start their day across the web, mobile and tablet devices.

THE TEAM:
theSkimm is co-founded by two former NBC News producers who saw a void in the marketplace for news delivered in a way their friends actually connected with. We are putting together an all-star team—with the former director of analytics from Fab leading our data team. theSkimm recently closed out its seed round with investors including the former heads of product at Twitter and YouTube, Bob Pittman, Tina Sharkey, and Troy Carter.

THE ROLE:
theSkimm’s original product is a daily email newsletter, but that’s the only the beginning — we have big plans. Sharing, personalization, commerce, data integration and so much more. And that’s where you come in. You will own web and mobile development for theSkimm and help take the product and the company to the next level.  

- You like email and working around its limitations. We use MailChimp.

- Although you’re a web developer at heart, you’re curious about different languages and platforms and don’t minddipping into backend or mobile code as needed.

- Solid knowledge of Ruby and HTML. Familiarity with Java a strong plus.

Email jobs@theskimm.com

We’re hiring—A Developer

theSkimm is looking for an all-star developer. Please send resumes to jobs@theSkimm.com

Title:  Fulltime Fullstack Developer with Java/Groovy Experience.

Requirements: Comfortable with Ruby, PHP,   HTML/Javascript and CSS.

An ideal candidate has:

- Background in writing backends that are scalable and perform well under sudden spikes and without too much intervention.

- Experience dealing with Grails/Groovy and the Java language.

- Solid knowledge of HTML, CSS, Javascript

- Experience working with AWS (Amazon Web Services) infrastructure and scaling services such as load balancers, autoscaling groups and RDS database.

- Comfortable changing between front and backend programming as needed by the company’s growth objectives

We’re Home Sweet Home

Last year, we loved it when people we were meeting with would ask to ‘just come by the office.’ Our office consisted of our very tiny living room, in our shared apartment. So, the answer was no.
But January 1, we grew up. We got an office. We got employees. Only problem was, the office looked like:
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We had a problem. We had employees starting and we kind of forgot to budget for furniture. Then we met Apt 2B. The rest is decorating history — their price points were amazing, their tastes aligned with ours, and they moved quickly. Which we like.
One of the best pieces of advice we got from a mentor was ‘don’t dismiss putting your office together. make people happy about going to work.’
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For us bringing Skimm HQ to life was more than just setting up Ikea desks and chairs (see above). It was about creating a company culture. theSkimm started as two friends on a couch and we needed to embody that in our office space — a (small) space that’s part newsroom (or Skimmroom) and part business ops. Our space is meant to embody what our brand stands for—smart with a little bit of fun. Apt 2B got that and really had the best furniture for us to choose from.
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Each detail was carefully thought out on a VERY tight budget. Our office makes us happy.  And we hope it makes our employees happy. We look forward to going to work everyday because it’s bright, livable, and comfortable. You don’t get two couches, if you’re not into napping.
Much thanks to LablStudio for helping us put the final touches on a VERY small budget and introducing us to wallpaper.
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Our favorite position is CEO, too

We haven’t wanted to write this one. 

But yesterday we were interviewed on NPR (!). When we checked the website, we saw this in the comments section from a Gordon:

"Wow. So, with a million plus in funding, they produce a *newsletter* that gives me headlines? One can only politely speculate on the techniques they employed to drum up that funding. btw "career" is not pronounced "creer", ladies."

Thanks for that, Mr. G. 

Often times we are asked to talk about what it was like fundraising as two women in the industry. We firmly believe that fundraising is hard for ANY new entrepreneur —man or woman. That being said, we’ve had some interesting experiences along the way.

The following things happened during fundraising:

-We were asked if we shared a bedroom

-We were asked if we had any ‘crazy ex-boyfriends like that girl at UVA’ (the one who was MURDERED)

-We were told to make sure we find time to get married

-We were told (by a very famous feminist) to get a rich boyfriend to fund us

-We were told by a very famous female founder that she got a rich boyfriend and it helped her, when we repeated the story above

-We were asked who writes our sports coverage

-We were asked who we paid to come up with our business plan

-When we finished our round someone Tweeted:  ”Diligence consisted of: “Eh i dunno the one on the left is actually cuter than the one on the right…”

For the record: The only ‘technique’ used in our raise was a lot of hard work mixed with sleepless nights. We write our own sports coverage. We do not share a bedroom (Skimm B snores).

If you thought all of this was said to us by old men in suits, you are very wrong. Although some of it was. Half of these interactions came from other women.

Amid the huge push right now to support women in tech and for women in tech to help other women rise in the industry, we are incredibly grateful that there are resources for us to grow our network with female mentors. We’ve been amazed by the support system (of both men and women) that has rallied around us.

And we’re sure many people out there probably have stories a lot worse than these.

NEW ENTREPRENEUR LESSON OF THE DAY: Raising money is hard and scary. For men and women.  Especially first timers. And people shouldn’t  write or say stupid things.

About that…

People make mistakes. New entrepreneurs make mistakes all f’ing day long. We’ve made  a LOT…

Things we’ve done wrong:

Asked for too much

THE STORY: In the earliest of Skimm days, a very big brand wanted to work with us. The head of said brand was an idol of ours and we were very excited. They asked us to throw out a number of how much it would be to work together in a very big way. We asked people for advice and people told us to aim really high. We aimed a little too high.

THE REACTION:  We got a bunch of emails telling us we should be ashamed of ourselves and that we had lost a potential mentor.

THE PANIC: We wrote 3 apology notes and sent flowers we couldn’t afford.

THE LESSON: We were wrong. But we also realized that a mentor should want to welcome the opportunity to teach us and put us in our place. Not just make us feel bad.

Never showed up

THE STORY: We had a meeting with the co-founder of a successful brand. We forgot to put it in our calendar and never showed up.

THE REACTION: Angry emails from an assistant asking where the f we were.

THE PANIC: We sent two apology emails, a hand written apology note, and alerted the person who connected us to let them know what happened, and sent flowers. Again. Then two follow up emails. Never heard from her again.

THE LESSON: Nothing annoys us more than when people waste our time so we think it’s fair that said co-founder should have hated us for awhile. Time to move on.

Didn’t pursue enough

THE STORY: We really liked a potential investor. But couldn’t make up our mind about when we were closing our round. So we let the clock tick and tick and tick. When we checked back in with said investor, she was no longer making investments for the year.

THE REACTION: She told us that we didn’t pursue her enough.

THE PANIC: We wrote a letter telling her she was right and why we wanted her involved.

THE LESSON: Go after what you want. Or opportunities will slip by.

Forgot about it

THE STORY: We had an amazing intern who worked for us remotely. And then we forgot about her. We forgot to give her assignments. Forgot to check in. Forgot we had her as a resource.

THE REACTION:  The intern kept asking if she could do stuff. We kept putting a note on our to-do list to email her back with an assignment.

THE PANIC: We told her it wasn’t her, it was us. And we meant it.

THE LESSON: Managing is a full-time job. Identify key areas you need help in and look for solutions that you can utilize. But adding ‘help’ for the sake of help, wastes everyone’s time.

NEW ENTREPRENEUR LESSON OF THE DAY: You’re going to make mistakes. Get over them and learn how not to make them again.

Things that are not fun about being a CEO

Payroll/Benefits

Dream: We’ll get funding and a magical fairy will deposit paychecks for us and our employees in our bank accounts each week. And then give us really nice health insurance.

Reality: Setting this stuff up is the worst. THE WORST. There are always mistakes and you will learn more about state and federal taxes than you ever cared to.

Lesson: Ask other founders who they use, monitor every detail. If something feels like a mistake, it probably is one, and it’s your responsibility to fix it.

Staying in relationships

Dream: We’ve talked about how the fundraising process was like dating—in the worst possible way. And how hiring can be a series of very bad Match dates. But once we met our investor match and first hires we kinda sorta thought we were happily settled into relationship-ville. Not quite. 

Reality: Keeping your current investors happy and your employees happy is a lot like being in the most insecure relationship ever. There’s always a little voice whispering — are things really OK? You want to show them how much you love them and that you know they love you, but secretly you’re always wondering if they’re cheating on you.

Lesson:  Learn to focus on your team and keep them happy, challenged, motivated, and invested.

Hiring for jobs that bore you

Dream: We’ll get funding and a magical fairy will find us a bookkeeper, a contract lawyer, and an accountant

Reality: You have to interview people for these positions and find the right fit. To many, ‘startup’ budget means different things—especially when they hear you just took in money. Each type of role often believes theirs is the most important line item in your budget. 

Lesson: Only go through referrals.

Board Meetings

Dream: We’ll have a “Richie Rich” moment and drink a milkshake with our feet up.

Reality: We haven’t had one yet but every entrepreneur—from the new ones to those on Fortune 500 lists look like they have Stockholm Syndrome when they talk about theirs.

Lesson: We are continuously warned to “keep it casual for as long as we can”—we’ll keep you posted.

New Entrepreneur Lesson of the Day: Decide on your favorite brand of wine and stock up. Being a CEO is hard.

Why We Said ‘Yes’

We’ve talked a lot about learning to say no. No to various opportunities, no to job seekers, and no to certain interview skills we’ve seen. But we’ve grown to a point in our business where we have to start saying ‘yes.’ Yes to opportunity and yes to people who want to build theSkimm with us.

We have now hired half of our team. Making our first hire was the weirdest thing we’ve done to date. We’ve been in our own bubble (literally—our apartment is quite small) and no one has had a stake in our day-to-day…until now. It is the most surreal — and special — moment to hear someone believes enough in what you’re doing enough to commit to take the leap with you and build it together. Hearing someone quit their stable job  to join us made us simultaneously want to vomit, jump up and down, pop the champagne, and get to work. 

The three people we’ve hired impressed us with their passion, skills, ideas, and plans for execution.

PS We’re still hiring for business development and editorial  

WHO WE HIRED:

Ryan-Growth Skimm’r

What’s his job? To understand our user growth and strategize how to grow more

What’d he do before? Director of Analytics at Fab

Why’d we hire him? When we came up with this job posting, we thought about what types of problems this person would need to solve and what type of experience they likely had. And then we trolled LinkedIn and found Ryan—to say he’s the man of our dreams is awkward but Ryan fit everything we were looking for. He had a background in finance with experience in e-commerce, newsletters, and scaling. He is someone who likes to hear about problems because he wants to find innovative ways to solve them. His focus is on growth, so is ours. Match made in heaven.

Daniel-Developer Skimm’r

What’s his job? To make theSkimm user experience better

What’d he do before? Software engineer at Meetup; flew planes (NBD)

Why’d we hire him? Daniel has been a friend of theSkimm for a VERY long time. He has been our 911 call when things break, when we panic, and he still likes us. Daniel likes to build things and from day one has said he wanted to build theSkimm with us into a lifestyle brand that would transform the news experience. He is passionate about the product and our playlists and never says “No,” always “We’ll find a way.”

Kaylin-Community Skimm’r

What’s her job? To grow our base on college campuses and help with other grassroots outreach.

What’d she do before? Strategy consultant at IBM

Why’d we hire her? Kaylin is theSkimm demo. She had been a longtime reader and could explain why theSkimm was the right product to start her day better than we could—she embodied our brand and who better to sell what we are than the customer? But she also came with ideas and an execution plan. We’ve seen so many people come in with thousands of great ideas that are either not realistic or cost wayyyy too much money; Kaylin’s consulting background showed us she was a problem solver.

New Entrepreneur Lesson of the Day: Don’t rush into a relationship but when you meet the one, pop that question.

Flair or not to flair?

2014 is already a big deal at Skimm HQ. We will have our first office and our first employees start (today!) and the two-(wo)man team known as Skimm HQ will be no more. We’ve been preparing ourselves for what it means to grow a team and create a company culture. And have been thinking a LOT about what type of CEOs we want to be.

We’ve heard horror stories. Like the time we went to one office where all the employees had to wear black flat shoes because the CEO liked to be the only one in bright high-heeled shoes. Or the one where the co-founders would only take meetings while they were on their TrekDesk.

We’ve been compiling some of the best advice we’ve gotten over the years from our former bosses and managers, our current mentors,  and fellow business owners. Below are some of our favs. 

- The best CEOs respond to email themselves. Quickly.

- There is a known balance between work and life. Find it. Hold onto it.

- There is also a known balance between when a boss is a friend and when a boss is a boss. 

- Be a leader — an organized one

- Know what your team does on a daily basis

- Put a name next to each task you want done

- Be a mama bear when it comes to protecting your team

- Look out for the future. It’s coming. 

- Focus. Focus. Focus. So others can as well. 

- Make sure your office is inviting. No one wants to wake up and go work some place that makes them sad.

- Incentivize your team by thinking long term

- Read “The Secret” — again. You’ve got to see success to be a success. Or something like that. 

- Say ‘thank you’ 

-Your team needs to believe in you and see you confident. If you don’t know an answer to something, come up with one

-No one will care about your company more than you. But try and make them.

We’ll let you know how our transition goes this year. We are currently looking into having a long table instead of a TrekDesk and making Friday meetings BYOB. Thoughts?

How not to get a job at theSkimm

We are very excited to add to our Skimm team in 2014 and so thrilled with the new hires we’ve already made. We have been interviewing a LOT of people. Turns out it’s actually not more fun to be on the other side of the interview process. 

Putting aside everything that’s about to follow, the biggest takeaway we have from the job application process is how amazing it is to see how excited people are to join our team and how much they believe in theSkimm. Truly, nothing has meant more to us than that.

Things we’ve learned:

  1. An interview is as much about you interviewing the candidate as it is for them to interview and learn about you. Both sides need to bring their A-game and want it.
  2. People need direction and it is hugely important for the employer to lay out what they expect from this position. 
  3. Negotiating is an art. And you (the employer) will be very bad at it your first few times.
  4. People need to hear your short term goals and long-term vision. Share it. Make them excited.

The process has also brought to light a lot of major mistakes we’ve seen from potential candidates. Examples below.

Things people need to learn:

Skimm A: Hey I like Applicant X  and Y. Did X send in a thank you note?

Skimm B: Nope.

Skimm A: OK, let’s talk to Y.

      *Thank you notes

Your parents weren’t just being annoying when they made you write them. It seems like such an obvious thing to do but so many people do not take the time to do it. We literally have a column on our interview spreadsheet indicating who wrote a thank you note and who didn’t.  First, they show you have manners. And if you are talking about a role where you will be representing the brand and interfacing with clients, these are things we are are paying attention to. Secondly, they show an interest in the product and the know how to follow up. 

    *Apply for a specific position

Applicant: Hi I have a lot of talents. Let me know where I’d be a good fit.

Early startups have very specific problems that need solving. Positions are specific to skill sets that can offer solutions. Having us do the work to translate your talents into positions we’ve already posted doesn’t make us excited. This is a big mistake Skimm A and B made in pre-Skimm lives when applying to jobs and something that is very annoying to see on the other side.

      *Apply for the right position

theSkimm: Hi, what are you applying for?

Applicant: I’m a college senior and I’m going to be your head of Business Development

theSkimm: We have an entry level position you may be better suited for

Applicant: No, no, I have a lot of experience

We have gotten so many applications with people saying they are interested in both our most senior role and our most junior role. That is a big red flag.  If you are graduating from college this spring, you are likely not qualified for a senior role. 

    *Homework

theSkimm: Thanks for applying! Please send us a sample Skimm in our voice 

Applicant: Sorry, I’ve been writing so many applications I’m not interested in doing another writing sample.

theSkimm: Goodbye

We ask most candidates to complete a homework assignment. This is a test to see how you think, that you can complete tasks specific to the role, and that you can meet deadlines and follow through. Getting your trial homework in late is not a good start.

For editorial candidates,  we ask them to write a sample Skimm in our voice. This is to see they can master what we do on a daily basis.  When candidates write it in a different format or ask to see examples of our format (read: try signing up for the email) it goes to the “No” pile.

     *Grilling

theSkimm:Thanks for coming in! Would love for you to tell us more about yourself

Applicant: Let’s actually start with you. How did you get investors to give you money?

Candidates are 100% interviewing us as much as we are them (see above) but there’s an art to doing that. We are the first to say we are new at this, that this is an early-stage company, and that we are learning a lot. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t professionals. We have had too many meetings when the interview asks us questions like “do you really think this is a business?” Yes — one you won’t be joining. 

    * Know your stage

theSkimm: Tell us what you’re looking for in this position

Applicant: Well I don’t do ad sales, I hate powerpoint, and please never ask me to deal with Excel.

Startups are not for everyone. That’s OK. Early stage startups are definitely not for everyone. Sometimes people forget that.  They weren’t for us pre-Skimm lives. When you list all the things you don’t want to work on, it’s a sign you are not cut out for the constantly changing environment of a new company. It’s fine to know these things but should also help you redirect your job search to something more stable.

    *Compensation

theSkimm: We’d like to make you an offer

Applicant: Great, I’d like to be paid $200k and have 8% of your company. 

No one joins an early stage startup for the salary. It’s very common place for compensation to be a mix of cash and equity and as a new company we have decided to grant all of our first employees equity, as a sign we are invested in them as much as they are in us. If you’re looking at a startup, see how much money they’ve taken in, how many people they are hiring, and do the math. And know, there are no “departments” yet.

   *Honesty

Applicant: I’m 110% taking this job if you offer it

theSkimm: It’s yours.

Applicant: Actually, I’m up for a big promotion at my current job and probably would want to get that first.

  The best kinds of candidates are the ones that are very candid. Honesty about what you want out of the position and if you’re talking to other companies is totally OK. It does no one any favors—on either side of this process—to lead someone on if you’re not serious. 

    *Start what you finish

theSkimm: Great chatting! We’d love to take next steps

Applicant: Well, I don’t  know if I’d take the job if I got it 

While this may seem contradictory to the point above, this one is for the benefit of the interviewee. It is always best to go through an interview process just to see what happens.  We benefited from this in our pre-Skimm lives and recently tried to return the favor and helped a candidate who wasn’t right for us get a new job. She starts next week.  

      *Know how to lie

theSkimm: Great to meet! What do you think of the product?

Applicant: It’s meh.

Again this may seem contradictory to a point above but there is an art to lying in an interview. When we ask what you think of the product, you might want to make us feel like you like it. And when we ask what you want to do we aren’t impressed when you say “I have no idea.” We are all figuring it out but there’s a way to artfully do it and sometimes it involves a fib or two.

        *Know the time

theSkimm: We’d love to talk with you about opportunity to join our team

Applicant: That’s amazing! I really like my job now  so can I join in a year?

Startups move very quickly. A year in startup land could mean new funding, acquisition, or disbanding. Waiting too long to act means missed opportunities. We’ve made the mistake of waiting too long to close a candidate and losing the opportunity and many applicants have made the mistake of thinking our needs now will be the same a year from now.

Fake It Till You Make It

Now that the fundraising process is complete, we can be honest: We had no idea what the F we were doing when we started. Our pre-Skimm lives had nothing to do with a business background. The following are things we learned that  may seem very obvious to many of you. But they weren’t for us. And they aren’t for many out there who are thinking about starting something (don’t let it scare you). 

Valuation

What it means:  How much your company is worth before and after you raise money

How we learned it:  In one of our first meetings in the earliest of Skimm days we were asked what valuation we were raising at. We had never heard this term before so Skimm A held up her hand and put a few fingers down to indicate a number. We didn’t know if we were talking hundreds, thousands, millions, or giving up a kidney. Turns out it can be a bit of a made up number that everyone else like to judge you on.

Pitch Deck

What it means: Essentially your sales pitch presentation you send around, ask others to forward, and bring to investors to look at. It’s your vision and your plan in a few slides. It should get you the meeting or help you close.

How we learned it: Right around launch, a friend sent over examples of some stellar pitch decks. We created our presentation and thought it was brilliant and gorgeous. It was neither.  So then we met with some consultants who said they would do it for us. They’d write out our vision.  It wasn’t until  the end of our raise that we sat on a stoop eating turkey sandwiches and forced one another to present to the other. We realized that no one could explain our vision except, well, us. The rest is history.

Lead

What it means: An investor who likely puts the most money into the round and sets the terms for the deal. It’s a stamp of validation for other investors who want to make sure someone is invested enough in you.

How we learned it: An early potential investor asked us who our lead was and we said we were. We were leading ourselves. That was very, very much the wrong answer. We then learned that everyone likes to say they’ll give you money once you have a lead. It’s as fun finding one as it sounds. You should also seriously consider finding one you really want to have a relationship with because it’s compared to ‘a marriage’. Think about how picky you are just dating. 

Term Sheet

What it means: The terms of the deal as agreed upon with the lead investor.

How we learned it: When we had a signed one we thought our deal  was done and could break out the champagne. Our parents thought we were done and told the world. You are not done until the fat lady sings and your lawyers go through and edit the hundreds of pages of documentation that the term sheet is mean to summarize. You are engaged, you are not married—this is pre-nup time. Again, as fun as it sounds.

New Entrepeneur Lesson of the Day: Fake it till you make it. And have a few close friends and advisors who you can ask A LOT of questions.