skien.cc

a mathematician/economist/statistician by schooling, a data scientist/python hacker by trade, and a homebrewer by night, skien.cc (pronounced skīəns) is my blog aimed to track explorations in all of the above.

Behind the Scenes of the Startup Podcast

I’m a huge fan of podcasts: I never miss an episode of Marketplace; I am near giddy when a new episode of Radiolab is released; I credit Planet Money with preparing me for a successful first interview out of college at Freddie Mac. The hottest new podcast is undoubtedly Startup (Serial is a close second.) Created and narrated by Alex Blumberg (of Planet Money and This American Life), it tracks Alex and his cofounder Matt Lieber on their journey to launch Gimlet Media, a podcasting company.

This podcast offers a rare look into the startup/VC/Silicon Valley tech scene and the process of launching a company from the ground up. While popularity of this topic has certainly grown in recent years, rarely do we get to see such a raw and personal take on it. Certainly, any method of storytelling that condenses months of work into half hour pieces cannot escape an editorial aspect, but Alex manages to capture his story in an unsensational yet insightful way.

In this most recent episode of Startup, Alex and Matt announce their crowdfunding deal on Alphaworks. This is particularly exciting for me as I’ve been working with Alphaworks for the last few months. We’ve been working hard to create an excellent experience for potential Gimlet Media investors, one that’s interactive, full of audio content (appropriately), and presents their pitch deck and deal terms. Engineers (software or otherwise) can often get lost in abstract, technical challenges; solving these is a cherished opportunity. More exciting, however, is the realization of a team’s work coming together to run a campaign (and even better: for a company I am personally excited about!)

This episode has a bit of a call back to Alex’s Planet Money days by discussing the JOBS act, the law that allows early stage crowdfunded equity markets to exist. One particular point that they address is the issue of an accredited investor, and how the SEC has delayed writing rules regarding the changes to this classification in the JOBS act for the last year. This is a tricky issue. To some extent, all investments are risky and even with established stocks there is always risk of declining value. Early stage investments amplify this risk (but also the reward), and the chance that an investment is fraudulent increases. Alphaworks takes an interesting approach to this problem: all deals are sponsored by an established venture capital group which sponsors the deal. This doesn’t mean the deal is an automatic home run, mind you, but it does allow smaller and inexperienced investors assurance that some diligence has occurred.

The Startup Podcast is admittedly meta (a podcast about starting a podcast company) and their fundraising page on Alphaworks takes that one level deeper. It’s a look directly into how Gimlet Media is presenting itself to a large group of investors, and as such I invite all the Startup Podcast fans to take a look behind the scenes!

DISCLAIMER: All opinions and statements in this post (and in my blog in general) are my own. They are not intended to nor do they represent those of Alphaworks, Betaworks, Gimlet Media, or any other people or organization.

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