5 Pieces of Start-Up Advice From the Founders of theSkimm

It's become the fastest growing newsletter on the market.

ByABC News
July 7, 2016, 12:24 PM

— -- In 2012, Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin famously quit their jobs in TV production to launch their own media company, theSkimm.

Four years later, theSkimm has become the fastest growing newsletter on the market, and is now expanding into paid subscriptions with the recently launched Skimm Ahead app. For $2.99 a month, Skimm Ahead automatically populates your digital calendar with important events like the premiere day of "Orange Is the New Black," the State of the Union address or when Beyonce tickets go on sale.

How did this pair, who met during college while studying abroad in Rome, build a business with 22 employees and raise more than $8 million in funding?

ABC’s Rebecca Jarvis sits down with theSkimm founders on "Real Biz With Rebecca Jarvis."

Here are their top five pieces of business advice:

1. Identify what makes your company or product special, and develop a strategy to scale it.

One of the things that makes theSkimm so unique and beloved by its 3.5 million loyal subscribers is the writing style, which the pair describe as conversational.

Early on, Zakin and Weisberg developed what they call “theSkimm Bible,” including outlawed words and style points.

Some banned things: "rock" when talking about a diamond ring, "bucks" instead of dollars, and exclamation points … unless something is meant to be sarcastic.

“That was our first big milestone that we needed to prove to investors,” said Weisberg. “They were like, ‘OK, great, you guys have traction, but can you actually train people to write in the voice of theSkimm?'”

2. Focus on growing subscribers before revenue.

One of the best pieces of advice theSkimm’s backers told them early on? “Don’t think about the revenue -- get the ideas out, get the growth,” said Zakin.

By growing the newsletter first, Zakin and Weisberg believe they’ll be able to convert their millions of loyal users into loyal paid subscribers and future customers.

3. Get ahead of hiring -- don’t wait until you desperately need a new employee.

“That was a mistake that we made really early on,” said Weisberg. “I think we’ve tried to be more opportunistic about great people who love the company, and don’t have what we’re looking for right now, but can we hire them because we’re going to need them in six months?”

4. When it comes to fundraising, less is more.

It might sound counterintuitive, but Zakin and Weisberg agree that when they raise new money, they should be targeting the bare minimum because every penny comes with strings attached.

“Do we need this capital to do what we’re doing now and what we’re doing next?” Weisberg said. “And if we take it, are we hurting our employees?”

Unless it’s absolutely necessary, theSkimm founders would rather leave that fundraising money on the table, aka, more money more problems.

5. The worst thing people can say is no, but also don’t take no for an answer.

It seems self-explanatory, but this is often easier said than done.

Weisberg and Zakin have used it as a driving principle, especially when it comes to asking for important things and networking.

“We have to give each other pep talks, and be like, ‘They’re just a person.’” Weisberg said.

“But that’s how you get in front of people,” Zakin added.