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.
This is our fifth and final episode following pastor AJ Smith, who has been trying to grow a new church in Philadelphia. It’s a process that has come with all sorts of existential problems, but also… some very practical ones. In order for Restoration Church to become self-sustaining, it needed to double in size by the end of the year. We’re now half-way through that year and the big question is, how close are they? To cope with the stress of starting a church from scratch, and to seek clarity on how to move forward, AJ takes a trip into the woods with reporter Eric Mennel.But over the course of the day, Eric finds himself reflecting on his own relationship with God, confronting a question he has been trying to avoid for months: Why has he stopped going to church?Hear about the future for Restoration, and a bit about Eric’s fraught relationship with faith, in the fifth episode of our series.
Hell, homosexuality, and the role of women in church — these are some of the most sensitive topics in Christian theology today. And the implications are huge: where an individual church stands on these issues can have a major effect on who does or does not attend, and … who gives money.A common critique of church plants is that they present as progressive, but at their core, many still hold very conservative beliefs. People can attend for months or even years without understanding where their church falls on topics like gay marriage or the ordination of women. So on this week’s episode, we sit down with pastor AJ Smith and ask the tough questions.This is the fourth episode in our series.
In the world of church planting, every Sunday counts… but there are a couple Sundays each year that can truly change the fate of a church. One of them: Easter. If you want to grab somebody who is open to church, but for whatever reason isn’t going, Easter is the time to do it. AJ and Leah need to double the size of Restoration by the end of this year, so they need this day to go well. They don’t have a fancy egg dropping helicopter or an egg shooting cannon like some churches do, but they do have a plan… one that involves 100 frozen chickens. In this week’s episode, we follow AJ and Leah as they give everything they’ve got to make their plan work.This is the third episode in our series on Church Planting. Listen to the first episode here.
It takes more than just a calling to start a church. You need a following. You need money. And to get that money, pastors often have to pass a kind of test. Welcome to the wild world of assessment. There’s whole industry of professional assessors who use psychological tests, behavioral interviews, role-playing scenarios and more, to try to determine if a pastor will be able to create a successful church. In this week’s episode, AJ goes to assessment camp — but he doesn’t go alone. Spouses are required to get assessed too. Just imagine an intense round of couples therapy, but as part of your job interview. That’s what assessment can feel like. This is the second episode in our series on Church Planting. Listen to the first episode here.
Every year, there’s a movement of thousands of pastors starting new churches — they call them church plants. It’s a world remarkably parallel to the tech industry, with incubators, growth metrics and, well, angel investors. One of these pastors, Watson Jones III, has dreams of starting a bustling new church in North Philly. But first, he has to figure out how to get people to show up. Watson might have the most difficult task of any founder in America: Convincing people who don’t know -- or even believe -- in God to change their minds and join his church. Reporter Eric Mennel tells the story of this young church plant in a new multi-part series from StartUp. Listen now to the first episode. To find a list of our sponsors and show-related promo codes, go to gimlet.media/OurAdvertisers
For the last six months at StartUp, we have been following a group of pastors and their families who’ve shown us what it’s really like to start a church in modern America. It’s a movement of people trying to disrupt one of the oldest, most bureaucratic institutions in history: The Christian church. Here’s a sneak peek.
For seven months, Arlan Hamilton agreed to let StartUp reporter Amy Standen follow her around with a microphone and ask her all kinds of questions — from how much money she had raised for her venture capital firm, Backstage Capital, to where she slept when she couldn’t afford a place to live. Like many reporter-interviewee relationships, Arlan and Amy’s was complicated. At GimletFest, the two of them sat down to talk it out. Shereen Marisol Meraji, from NPR’s Code Switch podcast on race and identity, moderated the conversation.
In our final episode of the series, Arlan is on a roll. She’s making new investments, raising her profile in the VC world, and bringing new people into her network. Some of her founders tell us why they really wanted investment from Backstage. And Arlan makes a surprise announcement that surprises her peers in Venture Capital.This is the final episode in our six-part series on Arlan Hamilton and her company, Backstage Capital. Listen from the very beginning here.To find a list of our sponsors and show-related promo codes, go to gimlet.media/OurAdvertisers
In this week’s episode, Arlan tries to maintain control as investments fall through, she butts heads with a prominent investing platform, and we meet the Thelma to her Louise.This is the fifth episode in a six-part series on Arlan Hamilton and her company, Backstage Capital. 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
Arlan has only a few months left before her cash runs out out when a seemingly perfect opportunity comes along. Is it too good to be true? Also, we take a look at Arlan's past as an entrepreneur, before she became a venture capitalist. What did she learn? And can she avoid making the same mistakes?This is the fourth episode in a six-part series on Arlan Hamilton and her company, Backstage Capital. 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