Watch our startup recklessly blow through $500,000

We're about to publicly blow our wad launching our media company and we want you to watch.

June 30, 2015
Watch our startup recklessly blow through $500,000

Not that type of wad, you sicko. But let’s get to it.

You’re reading this because:

  • You came to Hustle Con, a less douchey TED-style conference focused on startup founders
  • You signed up on our email list
  • Your friend signed you up for our emails
  • We spammed you (just joking – we save spam for special occasions)

This post explains why we’re creating a new media company (The Hustle) and how we are about to recklessly spend half a million bucks over the next 12 months to make it work.

How We Made Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars in 5 Months

Last April, after exiting our previous company, my co-founder John Havel and I decided to start another company. Neither of us know how to code, but that hadn’t stopped us from founding one startup already, so we thought that was an interesting problem to solve: teaching people who don’t code how to launch a startup.

And so, with the help of Eric Bahn and Elizabeth Yin, we hosted a conference called Hustle Con. The idea was to put 15 founders of successful startups on a theater stage, fill that theater with hundreds of young startup nerds (like ourselves) and have each founder teach the specific tactics they used to start their companies. The catch? None of the founders knew how to code.

We launched in January. On April 24th, 84 days later, we held the conference. We sold 600 tickets at $300 a pop in 12 weeks, landed a dozen sponsors, had attendees from every continent, and made hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue. Pretty cool, eh? But what’s really interesting is that we didn’t spend a dime on advertising. We sold every one of those tickets because of the content we created before the event.

One attendee described Hustle Con as a “startup MBA in a day.” Another dude said it was like TED, but “way less douchey” and with the vibe of a Black Keys concert. And one cheeky sunnuva bitch from China said, “The talks were so good it was as if [he] was having an orgasm all day long.” Gross, but thank you.

Regardless of how you define it, we had 600+ twenty and thirty year-old badass do-er types in one room at the same time. The energy contrasted nicely with the average Silicon Valley conference… most of which are lame as hell and full of corporate nerds flocking to grab one another’s business card like pigeons flocking to breadcrumbs.

Hustle Con 2015

People Don’t Know What They Want

Something surprising happened a week after Hustle Con. We sent the attendees a survey that asked two questions: why they did you come to Hustle Con and which speaker was your favorite?

As expected, most attendees said the #1 reason they came was to learn tactics for starting and growing a startup without knowing how to code. Their favorite talk, though? It was the least tactical one of the conference.

Da fuck?

In other words, people said they came to Hustle Con to learn tactics to help grow their companies… but that’s not really why they came.

John and I were kinda stumped. But then we remembered an OkCupid blog post that revealed that humans are notorious for not knowing what they want. For example, men using OkCupid say they like women over 5’10, yet they only message women 5’5 and shorter.

So what’s the real reason people paid $300 apiece to come to a conference hosted by two nerds who knew nothing about hosting conferences?

What Happened Next Will SHOCK You

Stumped, we emailed a few attendees.

“Thanks for telling us why you came to Hustle Con. One last question: How did Hustle Con make you feel?”

This reply sums it up:

“The conference evoked a personal story of hope and how someone achieved the highly improbable!”

People weren’t drawn to Hustle Con because we taught non-technical startup tactics, but because we gave them examples of people living the life they dreamed of living.

We realized that we accidentally quenched a massive craving. Hustle Con’s content (the conference and our pre-event web content) not only told real life stories of people living epic lives, but it also showed the reader how to get there in an authentic and engaging way.

When you think about it, there’s very little content on the web that does that.

Most web content is shitty clickbait created to drive pageviews. There’s a reason Facebook is banning headlines like “What happened next will SHOCK you”. Why? Because it’s annoying when your feed is littered when listicles and meaningless content from Buzzfeed and Upworthy.

Yeah, there are a few great publications like The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times, but truthfully we find the content dull and unrelatable (like most conferences). And many of them have conferences that look pretty cool – but I’m not about to drop $8,500 for a ticket to some elitist conference.

But the point is, we realized that Hustle Con’s content unintentionally filled a void: regularly produced content for entrepreneurial millennials that’s engaging, entertaining, and intelligent.

Filling the void with sophisticated content for people like us

That’s Why We Raised $250,000 in Funding

So here’s what we’re gonna do. We just raised $250k from 10 prominent Silicon Valley investors. Add in the Hustle Con profits and we have about $500k in the bank. We’re spending all of it in the next 12 months (or less) on launching our new site, The Hustle, and hiring content creators to explore and explain amazing people and performances.

The Hustle will focus on one theme per month. Each week we’ll create an 8 minute article or video that dives deep into a story within that theme. It’s kind of like a This American Life episode, but told over a month. The stories will be delivered via email because we think that’s the most convenient way to consume content.

How The Hustle works

This means exploring how Macklemore made it big without signing to a major record label. Or how Jack Smith founded two +$250m companies by the time he was 26. Or how you can hitchhike across the country with only $50.

It’s tough describing something that doesn’t exist, but The Hustle is filling a void in the business-y content world in a similar way VICE did with CNN, Fox News, and other legacy media sites. We’ll do this by creating epic content on The Hustle and by hosting our annual conference, Hustle Con.

So what topics will we cover?

You know, interesting shit that the 24 year-old Goldman Sachs employee dreams about. And content that inspires a 30 year-old designer who needs to kick start her freelance career so she can travel the world. Or something that convinces a college kid to drop out and work on his startup full time.

We’re part of a generation of people who, unlike our parents, refuse to live a boring, unfulfilled life. We think a meaningful life and career is a necessity, not a nice to have. Unfortunately, there aren’t any publications that explore this idea.

And that, my good friend, is why we’re launching The Hustle.

Wanna Follow Along?

If you wanna support us, the #1 thing you can do is share If you know anyone who’s a hustler or is into this kinda thing, please share this page with them!

After that, enter your email in any of the forms on the site. We send a once-a-week email that features one epic story. We also add cool content daily, so if you want that just ‘Like us’ on Facebook.

– Sam

PS: We’re hiring full-time writers and part-time contributors.

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