When Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin met studying abroad in Rome back in college, neither imagined that within ten years they’d be sending the daily email that’s been nicknamed “The Bible” by some of its loyal subscribers.
Weisberg and Zakin started The Skimm, the morning email that tells readers what’s going on in the world in terms they understand and in ways that make them want to keep reading. Self-described “news nerds,” the women reconnected post-Rome when they interned for NBC following college graduation. It was their job, they told Business Insider, to know what was going on in the world.
But it wasn’t their friends’ jobs.
“Before [The Skimm], we were realising all of our friends were really intelligent but they had basic questions about current events. They knew the ins and outs of their industries and their interests, but had questions beyond that.”
The women took a huge leap of faith and quit their jobs to start the daily email for your “smart friend.”
The email lands in inboxes around 7:30am, right when people are waking up and — what else? — grabbing for their phones. The Skimm is chock-full of current events, both international and domestic, pop culture news, and of course, the stuff that’s going viral on the internet. But it’s not too much news — it is called The Skimm, after all.
The women get their news from tons of places, from top media organisations to niche trade publications, though neither will specify any one brand specifically.
“We get asked that question all the time,” Zakin told Refinery29 in 2014, “and the answer is I have no idea what Danielle reads on a daily basis and she has no idea what I read on a daily basis.”
Beyond reading preferences, both Zakin and Weisberg agree on one thing — email isn’t dead, regardless of what people say. In the fall of 2014, the women told Refinery29 that the folks who claimed email would fail “would tell us that over email, so that was kind of like, point made!”
The point has definitely been made. This month marks The Skimm’s third anniversary, and the last time subscriber numbers were released, the count was at 1.5 million.
“We’ve grown a lot since then,” Zakin told BI. In addition to their massive subscriber list, the company raised $US7.9 million dollars in 2014.
Even Oprah is a fan:
It’s not just the subscriber number that’s moving upwards; the team has grown from two friends on a couch to fourteen people in an actual office.
“Every day is different,” they both agree. Responsibilities have grown; now time is spent managing and hiring people, making sure everyone gets paid, and making sure everyone has benefits.
Back in 2012, as the company was just launching, Zakin and Weisberg explained to Business Insider’s Alyson Shontell: “[Readers] might be going to a cocktail party or wedding, where news stories come up in conversation. We want our readers to be able to start the conversations. The Skimm is meant to be a confidence booster.”
Three years later, the duo is holding on strong to their target demographic, and assures Business Insider this is only the beginning of their success story.
The best advice they have received? “The only way you’re going to fail is if you don’t try,” Weisberg and Zakin said.
“It’s cheesy, but we needed someone to say it to us.”