By Amanda Steinberg (Founder & CEO, DailyWorth)
I’ve always been interested in creating businesses, inspired by my single mother, who always stressed the importance of financial self-sufficiency. I launched my first e-commerce website when I was 21, and throughout the years built Web agencies like CitySoft and Soapbxx to $1 million-plus in revenue.
As a web engineer throughout my twenties, I worked as the programmer and lead technical strategist to many venture-backed Internet startup companies in New York City.
I learned what makes an Internet startup successful: a clear, simple revenue model; scalable technology; and a valid problem in a large market to solve.
I’m the CEO and Founder of DailyWorth.com, a daily email that delivers money advice to more than 250,000 female subscribers. I’m proud to say the company is now three years old and, thanks to the $3 million we’ve raised and the two new editions we’re launching in February, three times bigger.
In 2002, DailyCandy, a single tip per day about fashion, entertainment, and lifestyle, hit my Inbox. This revenue and scalability model were brilliant to me: build an email list (DailyCandy grew to two million subscribers at which point it was acquired by Comcast for $125 million), and monetize “sponsored email advertorial” – one of the highest performing ad units an advertiser can buy.
I applied the business model to financial services: scale an email-driven community of financially-engaged women, a grossly under-served market, and sell integrated “advertorial” solutions to financial services companies like banks and investment houses, an industry behind the curve in digital transition.
In 2009, our first year, we delivered basic financial advice via email to 4,000 subscribers.
Mid-2009, SELF and Forbes wrote articles about DailyWorth. Through SELF I met MP Dunleavey, famed former New York Times personal finance columnist and expert, who is now DailyWorth’s Editor-in-Chief.
By November 2009, I learned from my mentor David Ronick that, to sell advertising, we needed at least 25,000 subscribers. After “strategically stalking” for many months, I managed to sign Jen Boulden of IdealBite (daily email about “green living”) as my chief advisor, and raise $250,000 in friends and family equity capital to grow our subscribership. The lead investor was Philadelphia’s famed portfolio manager Ted Aronson.
Armed with MP Dunleavey, $250,000 in capital, a marketing director named Hilary Fetter (also from IdealBite), and a huge, underserved market, DailyWorth grew in 2010 from 4,000 to 55,000 subscribers and generated about $50,000 in advertising revenue with major advertisers including Living Social and ING Direct. We finished the year with a two-page spread in Cosmopolitan magazine and an invitation to contribute to the New York Times Bucks Blog.
In January 2011, we were finally “on the map” with real revenue from brand advertisers including ING Direct, H&R Block and SmartyPig.com—a popular online savings account. In February 2011, we raised an additional $850,000 in seed capital from Silicon Valley, New York and Philadelphia investors, including TomorrowVentures—Google chairman Eric Schmidt’s venture capital fund.
Just this past month, I closed an additional $2 million. TomorrowVentures tripled their initial investment, and Charles Schwab former chief marketing officer Becky Saeger invested too. We’ve also signed more brand-name advertisers including Oppenheimer Funds and Mint.com, owned by Intuit.
With that money, we’re ready to expand the depth and breadth of our reach and content. Last month, we launched MoreWorth, financial advice geared to executive, affluent women, and CreateWorth, geared to entrepreneurs. We plan to grow our number of subscribers to 500,000 by the end of the year.
CreateWorth is a community of entrepreneurs who talk revenue, profit, and scale, in order to master the nuts-and-bolts of building a successful business. Get started on your dream job today and sign up here for CreateWorth.
After many months of endless work and conversations, I’m blessed with 20+ investors (more, if you count angels who have invested through networks), and everyone is supportive and enthusiastic. It’s an honor to have capital to grow my dream enterprise.
Editor’s note: DailyWorth CEO Amanda Steinberg is co-hosting Founder Friday New York on February 3, 2012. FREE RSVP for the event here.
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.