I will be assigning all my entrepreneurial journalism students to listen to every episode of Alex Blumberg’s podcast about starting a podcast company. It is an open, honest, true portrayal of the making of an entrepreneur.
Blumberg, you’ll recall, was a producer and voice on This American Life and one of the geniuses — along with NPR economic correspondent Adam Davidson — behind its Giant Pool of Money and then their podcast and blog Planet Money.
He decided to pick up and start a new company to produce quality, journalistic podcasts because he wisely saw the opportunity — we’ll all be streamin’ while we’re drivin’ — and because he saw their success in public radio.
Blumberg’s progress sounds so much like that of our entrepreneurial students. He starts with a passion to make what he does now pay. He faces and admits to many tough reality checks: How can he get the business to scale? Does he have the business and technical skills needed to make the enterprise sustainable? He faces fundamental choices: whether to become a content or a technology company. He learns that venture capitalists fund only technology companies; they fund scale. He learns the importance of the elevator pitch and clarity of vision. He learns the importance of learning from pitches.
Blumberg is a master storyteller and so this tale has plenty of suspense. I’ll be listening to every episode — and assigning every episode as well. Here are the first three: