September 23, 2022
Good morning, Broadsheet readers! This is Paige McGlauflin, covering today’s issue. People experiencing menopause benefit from remote work, “Central Park Karen” loses her lawsuit, and how a young Latina entrepreneur built a $200 million media company.
– Forging her own path. Women face high barriers to accessing venture capital money, with just 2% of VC dollars going to women in 2021.
For Daniella Pierson, the Latina founder of The Newsette, a daily women’s newsletter, the barriers were even higher. “It took me seven years, [with] no VC capital, to grow The Newsette,” Pierson told me in an interview earlier this month. “No one would give me VC capital.” She recalls pitching an investor who declined to provide funding because she reminded them of their granddaughter.
“I went into my Uber, and I cried. I said, ‘Fuck this, I’m not going to raise money,’” says Pierson. “Luckily, I didn’t.” Instead, using a $15,000 loan from her parents and through affiliate partnerships with companies like Fidelity and Ulta, Pierson grew The Newsette into a media powerhouse now valued at over $200 million, with over 500,000 subscribers, and $40 million in revenue in 2021. She also launched Newland, a creative agency under The Newsette, and has landed partnerships with Amazon and Mattel. She was The Newsette’s sole owner, save for a small stake from her mother, until she sold an undisclosed share to an investor this summer. And with a reported $220 million net worth, she’s now one of America’s youngest self-made female entrepreneurs at age 27.
“I didn’t start completely from zero,” Pierson says, referencing the loan from her parents. Still, it wasn’t like the millions of dollars her friends were able to raise or the $245,573 loan Jeff Bezos received from his parents in 1995 (worth over $479,000 in today’s currency). “But I had no connections, and I had very little capital to do what I wanted to do.”
Pierson founded The Newsette as a Boston University student in 2015. But she struggled with academics, suffering from undiagnosed OCD and struggling with anxiety, depression, and ADHD. Some professors told her that she wasn’t cut out for entrepreneurship.
“I grew up with the mentality that if a professor, a parent, someone with authority, told me, ‘You can’t do it,’ then I couldn’t do it,” says Pierson. After receiving a letter from the dean warning of expulsion, Pierson sought treatment for her OCD. Her grades improved significantly and she graduated in 2017 as a dean’s list honoree.
In 2020, during a Newsette interview with Selena Gomez and Gomez‘s mother about mental health, Pierson opened up about her own experiences.
“They were the fourth and fifth people I’d ever told that I have OCD and that I struggle with depression, anxiety, [and] ADHD,” says Pierson. “Before that moment, I would have rather not been on this earth than tell anybody, let alone one of the most famous people in the world.”
The three women founded Wondermind in 2021, a “mental fitness”-focused company. “Selena, [her mother], and I realized that we had the incredible competitive advantage and success to really build something that would change the way people think about mental health,” Pierson says.
The VC world certainly seems to be aware of the market opportunity, investing nearly $7 billion into U.S.-based mental and behavioral health companies in 2021. Wondermind was valued at $100 million in August after closing a $5 million seed round supported by investors like Serena Ventures and Sequoia Capital. Wondermind currently sends three free newsletters per week, featuring interviews with mental health professionals and household names, including Serena Williams and Camila Cabello.
“We really want to help the masses,” Pierson says. “This is not something we’re creating to help a demographic that already has access to incredible health care and therapists. It’s for everybody.”
For other young female entrepreneurs trying to break into the space, Pierson recommends absorbing as much information as possible about the business world, entrepreneurship, and their target industry.
“I had zero talent, zero knowledge, zero anything when I started The Newsette,” she says. “I just learned and listened to every podcast, read every book, watched every interview with people I wanted to be. That’s how I learned. It wasn’t through college.”
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