Why E-newsletter Startup Workweek Is Seeking to Promote Hen Sandwiches

  • Workweek is a media firm constructed round a roster of 21 publication writers.
  • Not like some media manufacturers, it is targeted on rising identify recognition for its expertise, not itself. 
  • It closed in July a $6 million seed spherical, and is on a roughly $10 million annual income run price.

This summer time, the operations group on the business-focused media startup Workweek started brainstorming one of the simplest ways to open a hen restaurant.

One in every of its writers, a franchise skilled who publishes underneath the moniker “The Wolf of Franchises,” had posted a cheeky meme about taking up Chick-fil-A by promoting sandwiches out of a truck close to its shops on Sundays, the at some point every week the chain is closed.

The group spun up a easy web site to advertise the idea, dubbed “Sunday Aspect Chicks,” promoting t-shirts and amassing fan e-mail addresses and zip codes because the group thought-about the place it may launch both a pop-up meals truck or a MrBeast-style ghost-kitchen franchise.

No matter whether or not Workweek begins promoting hen or not, the venture is already successful in its CEO Adam Ryan’s eyes.

“It helps the credibility of the Wolf,” Ryan mentioned. “We have been interviewed by Restaurant Enterprise Journal. He was reached out to by different hen franchises. It creates this bigger model for him.”


Launched in November, Workweek has a roster of 21 publication writers (together with its two cofounders and folks chief), podcasters, and social-media creators who cowl a spread of subjects, from fintech to healthcare to social-media advertising. Its enterprise faucets into a number of current traits in media, together with the Substack-accelerated spike in publication publishing, the rise of the creator financial system, and the thought of constructing a group of influencer journalists. 

Along with worker advantages like medical insurance, Workweek affords its expertise a slew of media-specific companies, together with working adverts to assist them develop subscribers, in-house ghostwriters and meme-makers to assist create contemporary content material for Twitter and LinkedIn, an advert gross sales group to fund their newsletters and podcasts, and an operations group that may dream up one-off stunts like a hen joint.

Its expertise are employed as full-time Workweek workers, however typically omit their relationship to the corporate of their public profiles.

“My objective over time is just not for Workweek, the model, to be entrance and middle for the audiences of those creators,” cofounder and COO Becca Sherman mentioned. Moderately, she hopes the corporate can develop a collection of particular person media manufacturers that stand on their very own, the way in which Architectural Digest exists as its personal entity underneath Condé Nast.

Different upstarts constructed round newsletters like Morning Brew (which is majority-owned by Insider Inc.), Puck Information, and Punchbowl Information, could also be a greater match for comparability. Morning Brew has equally leaned into digital personalities, launching its personal creator program in April. Semafor, a information model began by media veterans Justin Smith and Ben Smith, plans to have its reporters’ bylines sized equally to headlines to attract extra consideration to the corporate’s expertise.

“Workweek is an indication of a shift from institutional manufacturers to particular person manufacturers,” mentioned Brian Morrissey, the previous president and editor-and-chief at Digiday Media who now runs his personal publication and podcast model, The Rebooting. “There was this concept that publishers are going to be completely unbundled and it is simply going to be people. I believe there’s some reality to that, however like every part, it finally ends up someplace in-between.”

A few yr into its launch, Workweek mentioned it has 350,000 subscribers throughout its newsletters. The corporate mentioned it is working on near a $10 million-a-year run price at a break-even stage. It introduced $1.5 million in pre-seed funding in November, and raised a further $6 million seed spherical in July. Each rounds have been led by LightShed Ventures, whose basic associate and cofounder Jamie Seltzer now sits on its board. Workweek and LightShed declined to share the corporate’s present valuation.

“Nobody’s actually attacked the creator financial system from a business-to-business standpoint,” mentioned LightShed’s basic associate Wealthy Greenfield. “How do you greatest monetize thought management for those who’re a creator targeted on the enterprise market for no matter business you are in? And the way do you scale that enterprise? It is actually laborious to do nicely by yourself.”

Diversifying away from adverts

A lot of Workweek’s near-term technique is targeted on income diversification, its cofounders mentioned.

Like different media firms navigating a uneven promoting local weather, Workweek desires to keep away from counting on simply advert gross sales. It is pushing into different areas like occasions, merchandise, and pay-to-download publications. The corporate tasks that lower than 50% of its October income will come from promoting.

The corporate introduced in January that it was launching a $10 million enterprise fund to put money into companies introduced in by its creators, and it is at the moment working a job search and recruiting enterprise that faucets into its publication writers’ e-mail lists for its expertise pool. Workweek writers are compensated when certainly one of their readers finally ends up being positioned at an organization by the service.

“One of many issues that we wished to reply was, may we make 10 instances extra income per subscriber than the common media firm?” Ryan mentioned. “If we may create 10x extra income per consumer, our creators would receives a commission 10x the common earnings.”

What creators get out of Workweek as an alternative of going it alone

Every author on Workweek’s expertise roster has a barely totally different enterprise association with the corporate. However all are given some minimize of earnings generated from their work, be {that a} share of sponsorship income from an occasion or a portion of earnings from merchandise gross sales.

“Each greenback that we drive from a creator’s model is shared again with a creator,” Sherman mentioned. “Too typically, executives and operators take house lots off of the again of the people who find themselves making a ton of worth. We attempt to actually flip that mannequin right here.”

Heading into 2023, Workweek plans to develop its expertise roster and develop into new content material verticals. 

“As we develop the enterprise, we would like to have the ability to help all the voices of authority throughout all the industries,” Ryan mentioned. “It isn’t only a rinse-and-repeat course of. You must actually know that class rather well.”