Happy Accidents #012 - theSkimm
From a chance meeting in Rome, to a newsletter empire!
This week, we take an inside look at a Happy Accident that led to another successful partnership. This time, in a space near and dear to my heart—newsletters!
Let’s see how this Happy Accident unfolded, shall we?
Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin met while studying abroad in Rome, where they bonded over "a mutual love of fried artichokes."
They soon became fast friends and later roommates after both becoming producers for NBC News. In their apartment, they'd often discuss current events over their morning coffee.
That's when they noticed a trend emerging.
Their friends and colleagues, especially those in their 20s and 30s, were often too busy to keep up with the news but still wanted to be informed. They were getting asked constantly for the updates on the latest headlines.
This sparked an idea.
One day, they hatched a plan of creating a daily newsletter that would break down the news into concise, easy-to-understand summaries that could be read in just a few minutes. They called it theSkimm and sent the first edition to 3,000 of their friends and family members.
To their surprise, theSkimm quickly gained popularity, and they started receiving requests to join the newsletter from people they didn't even know.
The newsletter grew by word of mouth, and within a few years, they had over 7 million subscribers!
All due to this chance meeting in Rome. Or as I like to call it, a Happy Accident!
Some fun facts:
The newsletter was originally called the Daily Skimm when it first launched in 2012.
In 2018, theSkimm raised $12 million in funding from investors including Google Ventures and Spanx founder Sara Blakely.
TheSkimm has since expanded beyond its daily newsletter to include a podcast, a mobile app, and a book.
Weisberg and Zakin have been recognized as Forbes' 30 Under 30 in Media, Time's 100 Most Influential People, and Fortune's Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs.
The lessons here:
Identify a need and fill it: Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin recognized that young women were busy and looking for a way to stay informed about the news without spending too much time on it. They created theSkimm to fill this need and it has since grown into a successful media company.
Simple and concise is better than clever: One of the unique features of theSkimm is its conversational and approachable tone. By using language that's easy to understand and relatable, they were able to connect with their audience and build a loyal following.
Leverage social media: When theSkimm was first launched, social media was still relatively new, but Weisberg and Zakin recognized its potential for reaching their target audience. They used social media to promote the newsletter and build a community around it, which helped it grow quickly and reach a wider audience.
YOUR Happy Accidents
Do you have your own Happy Accident story? Some fortunate coincidence that led to a lucky break or cool discovery? I'd love to hear it? Send it to me here. It might just get featured in a future Happy Accidents edition!