By: Gimlet Media
A series about what it's really like to start a business.
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Mokhtar Alkhanshali is trying to produce the perfect cup of coffee. And he’s trying to do it with beans grown in the midst of an active war zone in Yemen. Despite those challenges, his company’s first batch earned rave reviews, and sold for $16 a cup at one of the fanciest coffee chains around. But can he turn that early success into a profitable business, or will the challenges of trying to achieve perfection using a supply chain that starts halfway around the world do his young company in?
This is a series about what happens when someone who knows nothing about business starts one. It's called StartUp. In episode one, Alex Blumberg botches his pitch to Silicon Valley billionaire Chris Sacca.
It’s no mystery that Success Academy has high expectations — not just for its teachers, but also for its parents and students. Having a high bar is the key to Success’ amazing results. But the charter network’s expectations can make life hard for families and kids who don’t quite make the mark. In this episode, we will hear from two families who ran headlong into Success Academy’s high expectations.-- Thanks to our sponsor, Cole Haan. You can hear more of Lisa and other Gimlet hosts in conversation at ExtraordinariesOnTheMic.com, produced in partnership with Cole Haan.
Success Academy has grown quickly — in just 12 years, the network has gone from one school in Harlem to 47 schools across New York City. In order to do this, Success has had to hire many inexperienced teachers, and move them up the ranks quickly. Amidst all this growth, there is a lot of pressure on the staff to continue performing at incredibly high levels. And Success has managed to keep crushing the state tests. In episode 4 of the series, we examine how growth has changed Success for better, and for worse.--Thanks to our sponsor, Cole Haan. You can hear more of Lisa and other Gimlet hosts in conversation at ExtraordinariesOnTheMic.com, produced in partnership with Cole Haan.
Success Academy’s state test results are truly remarkable — their students score in the top one percent in New York State, often beating out kids from the wealthiest districts. And the network's reputation is built on these results — it’s a big part of how they attract new students, win over donors, and get approval to open school after school.To find out how Success gets these scores, we go inside their test-taking machine. There are puppies and toys, “pump-up” songs, and a crazy event at the 19,000-seat Barclays Center called Slam the Exam. And, of course, there’s lots of test prep. We’ll hear from students and teachers who’ve grown skeptical of all the time devoted to getting good scores. We’ll see how significant passing the state test can be for a student who’s struggled. And we’ll hear Eva Moskowitz defend her school’s intense focus on test prep, which she prefers to call “mastery.”
Eva Moskowitz is the founder and CEO of Success Academy, the highest performing and most controversial charter school network in New York City, and the subject of this season of StartUp. To understand Success, you have to understand Eva.So on this episode, we go back to the beginning, looking at what got Eva interested in education in the first place, seeing the battles she fought on her way to starting Success, and watching as she opens her first schools. She cut her teeth serving on the New York City Council as chair of its Education Committee. In 2003, she did the unthinkable for a Democratic politician: she challenged the teachers’ union. The war that ensued would include protests outside her schools, parents opposing Success at local hearings, and a newly elected mayor trying to shut her down. Eva’s instinct to fight has helped keep Success Academy growing, but it has also made her a lot of enemies.
The Story: Eva Moskowitz wants to fix a really big problem. There are over a million kids in New York City’s public schools. Most can’t read or do math at grade level. Many won’t graduate on time. And it’s largely poor, black and brown kids who are stuck in the lowest performing schools. Eva’s the founder and CEO of Success Academy, the subject of this season of StartUp. And she’s actually making progress. Her school network is growing at lightning speed, and her students get among the highest standardized-test scores in the city, beating out schools in some of the wealthiest districts. And the education world is watching. But not everyone likes what they see. In this season, we ask how exactly Success is doing what it’s doing, and why does it have so many critics?Today, on the first of our six-part series about Success, we meet a mother, Sherisse, who desperately wants her son to get into Success, so that he can have opportunities she never had herself. And we go inside a Success classroom on the first day of school, to see what parents like Sherisse are clamoring for.The Facts:Peter Leonard mixed the episode. Our theme song is by Mark Philips, remixed by Bobby Lord. Build Buildings wrote and performed our special ad music. Additional music by Peter Leonard, Bobby Lord, Hot Moms Dot Gov, Jupyter, Mothica,Golden Gram and BlueDot.For a list of our sponsors and show related offer codes, go to gimlet.media/OurAdvertisers
Alex Blumberg sits down with the stars of the Homecoming TV show-- Julia Roberts and Stephan James, and director Sam Esmail-- to talk about how they came to the project and what it was like to film it.This is the final part of a four-part mini-series on the making of the Homecoming TV show.Want more StartUp? Check out our newsletter! You can sign up at: gimletmedia.com/newsletter.To find a list of our sponsors and show-related promo codes, go to gimlet.media/OurAdvertisers
Being in charge of a big-budget TV production means having to make decisions. It's a new kind of power for Micah and Eli, and one that's sometimes uncomfortable to exercise. The words they write have real-world, three-dimensional—and sometimes winged—consequences.This is the third part of a four-part mini-series on the making of the Homecoming TV show.Want more StartUp? Check out our newsletter! You can sign up at: gimletmedia.com/newsletter.To find a list of our sponsors and show-related promo codes, go to gimlet.media/OurAdvertisers
Micah and Eli get to work, writing the scripts for the Homecoming TV show. But taking something meant only for the ear, and turning it into something for the eye... proves to be deceptively challenging. Plus, Alex visits the set of the show, to meet the small army of people actually building the visual world of Homecoming. This is the second part of a four-part mini-series on the making of the Homecoming TV show.Want more StartUp? Check out our newsletter! You can sign up at: gimletmedia.com/newsletter.To find a list of our sponsors and show-related promo codes, go to gimlet.media/OurAdvertisers
Two years ago, Gimlet released its first fiction podcast: Homecoming. Now, this November, a television series based on the hit podcast and starring Julia Roberts is launching. Alex Blumberg was behind the scenes as Homecoming went from podcast to TV production. In this first episode, Homecoming creators Eli Horowitz and Micah Bloomberg recount the journey, from concept to podcast to pitching the show to bigtime Hollywood producers. And we hear from some of the celebrities they met along the way.This is the first part of a four-part mini-series on the making of the Homecoming TV show.Want more StartUp? Check out our newsletter! You can sign up at: gimletmedia.com/newsletter.To find a list of our sponsors and show-related promo codes, go to gimlet.media/OurAdvertisers
The Story:Alex is back in the host’s chair to introduce a new show from Gimlet - his own! It's an interview show called Without Fail where Alex talks to people who have made a big bet and either won or lost.When Andrew Mason started Groupon 10 years ago he was in his mid-20s, fresh out of grad school, and running a company for the first time ever. Within 2 years Groupon was called the fastest growing company in history. And then just as rapidly. And just as dramatically. Its fortunes changed. This dream rise, the nightmare fall, all in this incredibly short time-span - it’s like a startup fable. But it actually happened. To a real guy! In part one of this two-part conversation, Andrew talks with Alex about Groupon’s rise. How it started as a website designed for something completely different, what it felt like when it finally caught on and started to grow, and Andrew’s own conflicted feelings about being a CEO. The Facts:Peter Leonard mixed the episode. Theme music by Bobby Lord. For a list of our sponsors and show related offer codes, go to gimlet.media/OurAdvertisers