How the Betches Founders Transformed a Dorm Room WordPress Site into a Booming Millennial Medium

You know those sites where you’re pretty sure the editors are inside your head — where the content speaks your language to a T and makes you LOL (and consequently share on your friend’s FB pages) on a regular basis? We hope you’ve already met her, but in case you haven’t, we’d like to introduce you to one of our major online girl crushes — Betches — a site where snark reigns supreme and the writers unapologetically share everything you’re too afraid (or uncomfortable) to say out loud.

So, it only makes sense that when we chatted with Betches Founders Samantha Fishbein, Jordana Abraham, and Aleen Kuperman, we became as obsessed with their success stories as we are with the site. Read on to see how the trio took the WordPress blog created in their college apartment to a booming millennial medium — Oh, and did we mention two best-selling books and an Instagram following of 4.6 million (including Madonna)? Yeah, they’re killing it.

Name: Samantha Fishbein
Age: 27
Location: New York, NY
Current job/company: Chief Operating Officer, Betches LLC
Education: Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University

Name: Jordana Abraham
Age: 27
Location: New York, NY
Current job/company: Chief Content Officer, Betches LLC
Education: Policy Analysis & Management, Cornell University

Name: Aleen Kuperman
Age: 27
Location: New York, NY
Current job/company: Chief Executive Officer, Betches LLC
Education: Biological Sciences, Cornell University

Let’s start from the beginning. You met in college, and eventually conceived the idea for Betches in your dorm room. What was that initial conversation like?

 

We actually all grew up on Long Island together and met in middle school. We happened to also go to Cornell and we were living together when we were seniors. The initial conversation about Betches, which started as a WordPress blog, occurred around 2am, when we were pretty bored and just messing around. We pretty much started it on a whim.

Ask yourself if you have it in you to deal with the uncertainty. If the answer is yes, then it’s time to hustle.

 

We’re interested in hearing about the steps you took to start the site. Any advice for someone looking to turn a hobby into a profitable site?

 

After we saw that the blog was kind of an overnight sensation, we were about to graduate from college and it occurred to us that we could possibly turn this into something bigger. However, we didn’t hit the ground running from that moment — it was a bit more of a gradual increase over the next two years. We got a book deal with Simon & Schuster six months after we graduated, so we knew we potentially had something big that people were willing to pay us for; it was just a matter of figuring out exactly what path to take. In terms of advice, we would say that it’s really important to honestly assess whether your hobby can actually be profitable, and if there is an actual demand for it. The other factor is asking yourself if you have it in you to deal with the uncertainty, and whether or not you’re proactive enough to run your own business. If the answers to all those things are yes, then it’s time to hustle.

 

What about advice on successful work relationships? What has been essential to yours?

 

Be honest with your partners, acknowledge each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and try to minimize conflict — except over the things you really believe will help the bigger picture of the company. Pettiness is a waste of everyone’s time and potential money.

 

What were some initial challenges you faced when launching?

 

None of us had any formal business background and the technicalities involved in the process of launching a business can be very daunting. We really had to learn on the job and start completely from scratch in terms of what actions needed to be taken. We also had to rely on other people’s expertise a lot. Training yourself to be proactive is difficult but necessary.

 

When did you begin to feel a shift in the site’s growth? Was there a turning point where you realized this was no longer just a hobby, and it had the potential to be a full-time gig?

 

Probably about a year after we launched, when we got our first office and redesigned our site to get off WordPress. We were also writing our first book, “Nice is Just a Place in France,” at the time. That was our first major growth phase.

 

How did you market Betches at the beginning?

 

We told one or two friends about it and they shared it on other people’s Facebooks, and it spiraled from there. We never really did much marketing outside of our own channels — and still don’t.

 

What does a typical day look like at Betches? Is it different/the same for all of you?

 

Brainstorming content, strategizing for new products and initiatives, meeting with people in the industry who we are working with/potentially may want to work with… It’s really different every day and we’re not tied to a rigid schedule at all. Whatever the day calls for!

 

Silencing bad ideas also leads to silencing good ones.

 

We often find ourselves laughing out loud when on your site (even just scrolling through the headlines), which leads us to wonder: what are your brainstorms like? What’s the vibe of your office?

 

We try to create an atmosphere where people can feel okay saying what they want — we’re not ones for political correctness. We try to accept any ideas — even if they’re bad — because we want our employees to feel comfortable enough to pitch anything. Silencing bad ideas also leads to silencing good ones.

 

When did you begin to feel like you really “made it”?

 

When our first book became a New York Times bestseller in 2013 and we were on the Today Show.

 

Most recently, you’ve embarked on a campaign with British beauty lifestyle brand Soap & Glory called “The Future Is Still Female.” How did the idea for this campaign come about?

 

We were feeling very fired up after the election. We felt like there was a lot of hope and excitement that ended with many left frustrated and disheartened. We wanted to give our audience a platform and means to channel that frustration into something positive. We want to enact change and empower women all over the country. Election results aside, we wanted to give girls a positive message to rally behind and create a sense of unity for our fellow females. Like us, Soap & Glory is an edgy and exciting female-oriented brand, so they were natural partners for this.

 

How can our readers get involved with “The Future Is Still Female”?

 

You can take an Instagram with a friend where you are making a W with your fingers, and hashtag #TheFutureIsSTILLFemale. Write an inspiring message — or a funny message — or whatever you want. And tell everyone you know to do it, too.

 

What are some common misconceptions/challenges you face as female tech entrepreneurs, and how will this campaign will address those misconceptions?

 

To be honest, we don’t face a ton of overt sexism in the typical sense. We are lucky to work in an industry where women are strongly represented. However, we feel that as first-time female entrepreneurs, there’s a lot to learn and it can be intimidating when we face situations that are new, or there aren’t many women in similar places. Sometimes “sexism” manifests as a subtle bias, but we don’t find this to be a constant threat. Even though this isn’t always problem for us, we know that it is for many women. We feel for that and we want to be able to spread a sense of confidence and solidarity.

 

Where do you see Betches in five years?

 

We want to be an even larger force in millennial media with new brand extensions — new apps, new product lines, ideally a TV show (which we have in the works currently), or a movie. We feel that Betches gives us the flexibility to cater to our audience in many different ways, so it’s just a matter of where we apply our voice next.

 

Having a sense of humor is necessary not only for the success of your business, but for life in general.

 

What professional achievement are you proudest of to-date, and why?

 

We’ve been given so many amazing opportunities but a few that stick out are: the fact that we get to create jobs for people, building a retail operation (Shop Betches) from scratch, having two best-selling books — those are just a few.

 

What advice would you give your college-aged selves (the ones in the dorm room who came up with the idea for Betches)?

 

Focus on what you’re good at and get even better at it. You don’t need to be good at everything; there are experts for that. Also, having a sense of humor is necessary not only for the success of the business, but for life in general.

 

Samantha Fishbein Is The Everygirl…

If you could have lunch with one woman, who would it it be and what would you order? 
Tobiko hand rolls with Meryl Streep.

Some people would be surprised to learn that…
I don’t understand “Game of Thrones” whatsoever.

 

Jordana Abraham Is The Everygirl…

If you could have lunch with one woman, who would it it be and what would you order? 
I would have macaroni and cheese with Tina Fey.

I wish I knew how to… 
Properly edit an Instagram picture.

 

Aleen Kuperman Is The Everygirl…

If you could have lunch with one woman, who would it it be and what would you order?
Spicy tuna crispy rice with Mindy Kaling.

If you could have one superpower, it would be…
The ability to not overpack!

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