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My Startup Cost $25,000 For Its Entire First Year, Funded That Start Myself (And Now The Business Is Worth Millions)

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DailyWorth is now a multi-million dollar business. But for its first year, the founder bootstrapped the venture herself with only $25,000. Here’s how she did it.

By Amanda Steinberg (Founder & CEO, DailyWorth)

I launched DailyWorth, now a multi-million dollar online community for women, by spending less than $25,000 in our first year of operation back in 2009.

How did I do it? My business focused on community over product.

DailyWorth is a community of women who talk money. We help women earn more, save more and spend smarter, daily by email.

DailyCandy, possibly the most recognized “daily email” business, sold to Comcast for $125M, so there is a big opportunity here. Email advertising is far more lucrative than website advertising.

While DailyWorth’s mission has always been bold, the technology to support it has been about as light weight as it gets. All I needed to run DailyWorth in its first year was a website to capture sign ups and archive content, an email platform like MailChimp to send the emails, the design of the website landing page and the email template, and of course the quality content.

90% of my costs in my first year were on the people doing the work:

  • Graphic designer ($45/hour): Designed the logo, landing page, and a set of images to make the email template “fresh” every day
  • Programmer ($75/hour): Built the website and integrated with MailChimp, Google Analytics and Disqus
  • Producer ($30/hour): Took the copy from the writers and produced and sent the emails daily
  • Personal finance experts ($200 per piece): Wrote the short, pithy advice pieces – critical in making DailyWorth a substantive and engaging source of financial education

Was $25,000 enough? No, in looking back, I wish I had allocated an additional $25,000 to marketing, promotion and subscriber growth. It took us nine months to reach 1,000 subscribers (we’re at 250,000 now three and a half years later). Email businesses can’t sell advertising for any reasonable amount until they reach at least 5,000 subscribers. I wished I had known that I needed to pay money to grow the brand – we might have been able to generate revenue sooner.

Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.

About the guest blogger: Amanda Steinberg is Founder and CEO of DailyWorth, giving women key insights into building real net worth. DailyWorth is the go-to source about personal finance for smart, ambitious women. Since its inception in January 2009, DailyWorth has garnered 250,000+ subscribers. While DailyWorth is headquartered in NYC, Amanda lives in Philadelphia with her two children and her iPhone. Follow her on Twitter at @AmandaSteinberg.