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

The Best We Ever Had

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about ‘What Not To Dos’, meetings that left us scratching our heads, and times we’ve messed up, but that’s not to take away from all the good meetings we have had. Especially the ones that came with lessons we think about pretty much everyday.

These are the types of meetings that have helped us the most:

Meeting #1: Will you give me money?

Backstory: For 370 days, we did everything we could to get in front of one particular investor. We were told he would not meet with us, wasn’t investing, and wasn’t interested. We finally got an in and he agreed to a meeting. We were given 15 minutes.

What happened: We researched EVERYTHING we could about him, his meeting style, how he likes his coffee, when he likes the hard sell, when he doesn’t. And we brought it. At the end of the 15 minutes he said ‘let me get some skin in the game,’ and the deal was done. We left the meeting saying, all fundraising should be like this.

The Lesson: Do your homework. Always. And don’t force something to fit, when it won’t.

Meeting #2:  Will you give me advice?

Backstory: We were dying to meet Alexis Maybank, one of the Gilt founders. We told her we were fundraising, trying to navigate our way, looking for mentors like her, hint hint.  She just smiled.

What happened: She told us her biggest advice was when you want something, ask. Want someone to invest? Ask them. Want someone  to advise? Ask.

The Lesson: Ask for what you want. Up until then, when we took meetings, we’d flirt around the issues on our mind—money, advisors, partnerships, advice. We assumed people knew why we were there and what we wanted, and were hoping they’d just bring it up. After this meeting, we realized if we wanted something, we had to be upfront.

Meeting #3: Will you tell me what to do?

Backstory: We got a chance to meet with Jon Steinberg from Buzzfeed. We had lots of questions for him on business development and management style. Read: Tell us how to do our job well.

What happened: Jon told us our only job was to fire ourselves.

The Lesson:  Fire yourself everyday. A good manager hires well and hires to fix current problems they’re currently multitasking. The goal is to fire yourself from those problems and move onto the next fire and the next big thing. We are very excited to be firing ourselves.

Meeting #4: Will you work with me?

Backstory: We had a meeting with a BIG brand.  Everyone told us it was a waste of our time, that 2 years would pass before anything would come from it, due to all the red tape. We went anyway.

What happened? We said we’re a startup, and we move quickly. They said if you had come to us 6 months ago, nothing would happen, but we’re ready to work with startups. In 2 weeks, we had signed and executed a partnership.

The Lesson: Work with people ready to work with you. Some brands say they want to work with startups and don’t know what that means, or don’t really mean it. You’ll waste your time to trying to make it work. 

Meeting #5 Will you give me a pep talk?

Backstory: We were lucky enough to meet someone in the space who not only gave us her time and contacts, but has become an invaluable part of our extended team. 

What happened:  A friend introduced us to our now advisor way back when. From then on, she has understood our company’s vision and our relationship as founders in a way no one else really has been able to. On cold days in February when we are very pale and very run down, she reminds us why we are good at what we do. And she means it. 

The Lesson: You need someone to support you when things are good and when they are bad who is not your mother, father, or spouse, and actually knows your business. We are lucky to have that. 

Advisors Anonymous

A note on advisors…

The first week we started theSkimm, people asked us who was on our advisory board. We said we didn’t have a board yet, not realizing that an advisory board is entirely different than a board of directors.

We quickly learned that just like the word ‘equity,’ people throw the word ‘advisor’ around very casually and it means different things to different people.

What should it mean to founders? Someone who is involved with the company, who is not an employee, and who is not necessarily an investor. But is more than just a friend. Someone who will get equity. Someone who can offer expertise or be able to help in a specific area of your business. And someone who can and will give you time. 

This is what we’ve found it can mean to other people.

Scenario: “Hey, Skimm A and Skimm B, we went to college together and I’ve been working in finance for a few years now and so I know a lot about deals and things. Give me some equity and I’ll advise you.”

Takeaway:  This person has never worked with startups. This person doesn’t know what they would be advising on. 

With every industry becoming more and more entrepreneurial, more and more people are trying to get their feet into the startup scene—and position themselves as experts, when they may not be. 

Scenario: An interview applicant said rather than join the team they would love to formally advise us so we could learn from their “business acumen.”

Takeaway: This person has about 3-5 years work experience in junior and mid-level positions. Sometimes people need to check themselves.

Scenario:  A very well-connected and influential person who could be very helpful to us informed us they would not make one introduction on our behalf without an advisory agreement.

Takeaway: There’s a fine line when it comes to gaining access to someone’s rolodex. There’s the stage of general and generous intros and then there’s a stage when someone becomes a professional networker for you. The latter stage is usually an advisor. The first stage is a normal human.

Scenario: A serial startup advisor said they’d love to get involved. For 8% of our company.

Takeaway: HAHA.

Scenario: "I’m advising all the companies in your space. And actually plan on starting my own company just like yours!  I should advise you too!"

Takeaway: Too close for comfort.

Scenario: I’d love to advise you. You can use my name. But I have no time to talk to you ever.

Takeaway: Sometimes it is helpful to have advisors for name recognition and credibility. But at a certain point, you need to realize what it means to give someone a piece of your company and a name can only help so much.

New Entrepreneur Lesson of the Day:  Focus is as important here, as in other parts of your business. Know what areas you need help in and line up advisors who are different from one another and can give you the time you need. Each relationship will be different but each should have a distinct value to the company.

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?

The first cry

It happens to everyone - the crack. The breaking point. The break down. For Skimm A, that came in the form of — the cry.

We’ve seen entrepreneurs handle stress differently: there’s the overly emotional, the over drinker, the never sleeper, the ‘forget hygiene, must work’ -er. Skimm A and Skimm B even handle stress differently; Skimm A had yet to cry over something work-related in nearly a year of entrepreneurship. Sure, there’s been exhausting days and momentary freak outs, but they were put aside so the problem at hand could be dealt with.
And then it happened.
Skimm HQ had been counting on something to come through and it didn’t. And it was a Friday. And there were mass amounts of exhaustion. And so while watching an ep of “Golden Girls” on Netflix, the tears came. And came. There were lots of them.
But as cliche as the breakdown moment is, it’s followed by the cliche breakthrough moment. The Kleenex did its job. And then it was Saturday and there was work to be done.
Running a startup is hard. Some things will be easier than others and it’s OK to let it get to you . But then you get yourself together and get back to work.
NEW ENTREPRENEUR LESSON OF THE DAY: Cry — scream — break things — whatever: release. And get over it.
In line with this thinking…we are ignoring the formatting issue because there are other things to worry about — thanks!

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theSkimm’s Wanted Sign: We’re Hiring!

JOB TITLE: Director of Finance and Operations

theSkimm is looking for an “all-around athlete” to provide financial and operational support to its founders.  The Director of Finance and Operations will work closely with the Founders to develop and execute on the Company’s business plan and will be involved in many facets of the business.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Participate in the development of the Company’s strategy from a financial and operational perspective in partnership with the Company’s founders
  • Build financial models and analysis to support the Company’s business plan and all strategic decisions
  • Analyze, evaluate and advise on the impact of long-range planning and introduction of new programs/strategies.
  • Plan, develop, organize, implement, direct and evaluate the organization’s fiscal function and performance.
  • Provide timely and accurate analysis of all key performance indicators, financial reports and financial trends 
  • Assess the human resource needs of the organization and assist in building out an appropriate team
  • Develop, implement and enforce policies and procedures of the Company that will improve overall operation and effectiveness.
  • Provide leadership for fundraising efforts and transactions from a financial and legal perspective
  • Advise on legal, HR, IT and other business matters as needed (while broader team is being put in place)

Requirements:

  • Passion and energy for the business and the opportunity
  • Ambition and strong leadership ability.
  • Ability to pay close attention to detail while not losing sight of the broader strategy.
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced environment with limited structure.
  • 2-5 years of experience in media industry preferred but not required.
  • 2-5 years of experience in a finance and/or operations role strongly preferred.
  • Highly collaborative with entrepreneurial energy.
  • Experience in a start-up environment a plus.
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Strong organizational and time management skills.
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office, especially Excel

Salary commensurate with experience. Send resume to jobs@theskimm.com 

GUEST SKIMM: Zac Posen on CFDA Awards

GUEST SKIMM: It’s CFDA Fashion Awards time
Skimm’d by Zac Posen, Designer & CFDA Member

WHY IS THE CFDA IMPORTANT The CFDA is a non-profit organization that helps raise funds for industry activities, philanthropy, and helps promote and nurture American fashion designers.

HILLARY CLINTON WILL BE THERE TONIGHT. IT’S A BIG DEAL. You can see it all on style.com tomorrow. The industry can get very serious. The Awards are the perfect platform for the industry to laugh at itself and also celebrate.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE CFDA AWARDS MEMORY? My first CFDA Awards when I was a nominee [and] Helmut Swarovski passed me a crystal heart under the table.

Leaning in…on sports

 After our Super Bowl guide came out, Skimm HQ felt particularly proud that it received so many compliments. Like finance, politics, international affairs, and the Kardashian/Humphries trial, covering sports takes time.

After said guide came out, we got lots of questions from some friends and acquaintances asking ‘great job, who wrote it?’ We let those slide but we really mastered the smile/glare look.

 But then March Madness happened. We’re not going to lie— explaining S-curves and brackets wasn’t easy and we never knew office gambling could be so complicated. But like with all of our writing, we ask for help when we need to and research what needs to be researched, so that we can Skimm for you.  We are proud to say we got many compliments on this  guide, as well. But as  Madness has continued, we have repeatedly gotten questions like ‘so which of  your boyfriends wrote this?’ or ‘who did you hire to do your sports  coverage?’

 Answer: Sheryl Sandberg would be so mad at you right now. We hired no one.  We write it. And full disclosure, we have lots of close friends at the major sports networks who are happy to answer our questions. And no, they don’t write for us, either.

Vanity Fair toasts theSkimm! 

Free, you say?

At a start-up, every dollar is important. No, really EVERY dollar. Want those fancy pens? Then find a cheaper printer. Want better office snacks? Go to Costco.  Banking fees? HA, we’ll be switching to another bank.

This line of thinking obviously applies to the bigger decisions—working with consultants, accountants, developers, designers etc

Over the last few months we have often times tried to go with the cheaper options because that’s what we could afford but turns out there’s a reason certain services charge a lot of money. They’re better at what they do. We’ve found that trying to cut corners has led in some circumstances to dealing with missed deadlines, lack of expertise, and other times being charged for the smallest of things. Those small things add up and sometimes you end up paying more than you would have at the more expensive option.

New Entrepreneur Lesson of the Day: You get what you pay for. Stop complaining.