Startup Season 2 Tackles New Company, Plus Love and Companionship

The StartUp podcast was a nearly instant hit when it debuted last fall. Listeners were captured by Alex Blumberg’s groundbreaking approach to first-person podcast narrative, documenting his own entrepreneurial journey starting up what became the Gimlet Media podcasting company.

Season two of StartUp debuts Thursday, shifting focus to a different company, an online dating startup called Dating Ring founded by two women. Alex gave host Adam Sachs a preview of what lies ahead on the most recent episode of The Wolf Den podcast.

The previous post about this episode details why Alex believes podcasts count as true startups.

Alex explains that Dating Ring is different from Gimlet in several aspects. “There is a fish-out-of-water aspect because of what they’re going through as women in a very male world of investing and startups. In some ways the things they are going through are more traditional startup things.”

This company was incubated at the well-known Y Combinator seed accelerator, which provides initial investment, advice, and guidance to early-stage startups. “One of the episodes takes you through that institution,” Alex says, “what I call the Hogwarts of the startup world.”

He says that the founders have been recording audio diaries as they face, “pretty classic scenarios: What is our user acquisition strategy? How are we going to make this thing work? How do we get it to a viable-company stage?”

Though online dating is a very crowded space, Alex observes that “it’s not like anyone thinks it works perfectly. There’s a lot of problems.

“One of their premises is that it’s often worse for women. It subjects you to creepy online attention you don’t want. They’re trying to solve all that.”

While the story is about breaking into a tough industry, this season gets at basic human desires. “It’s also dealing with one of those basic things we want: love and companionship,” Alex says. “How do you help people get that?”

He lets out a little teaser: Gimlet will launch a third show–joining StartUp and ReplyAll–at the end of May. However Alex isn’t ready to reveal anything more just yet.

Listen to the whole episode to hear why Alex decided to be so unguarded in season one of StartUp, and what he left out. He also shares his perspective on why young talent is leaving public radio for podcasting.

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