Ben Lerer is the co-founder and CEO of Thrillist Media Group, a digital media company converging leading men’s lifestyle brand Thrillist.com and members-only shopping club JackThreads.com. The brands collectively reach over 5 million daily subscriptions, targeting a young, urban male demographic locally and nationally, online and offline, through content and commerce. Ben is also the co-founder of Lerer Ventures, one of New York’s most active Angel funds, investing in over 125 media and technology companies since its creation in 2010. He has also been a FoundersCard Member since 2010.
1. What inspired you to start your company?
The idea for Thrillist came out of a need. My college buddy (and now my business partner) Adam and I were drinking on my roof one day and trying to figure out where he should take his date later that night. We went to look up romantic restaurants on the various online city guides, and realized that none of the information we were being given was really meant for us but was speaking to every resident of NYC – my mom and I would not have the same idea of what a romantic restaurant was. We realized our demographic was vastly underserved in that area and decided to create Thrillist in response.
2. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t hope. It sounds dark, but you can’t just expect things to just happen for you. If you want something, you need to make it happen for yourself.
3. What is your favorite destination?
4. What is the one book you recommend to everyone?
Blow: How a Small Town Boy Made $100 Million with the Medellin Cocaine Cartel and Lost It All.
5. Who is someone we should be following on Twitter right now?
Rob Fishman: @rbfishman
6. What is the hardest part about your job?
I think the hardest part of this job is the emotional toll of putting so much of yourself into your company. We used to ride the highs and lows like a rollercoaster, but over the years I’ve learned that certain things are just out of my control and that it’s not always worth the time or energy to stress it.
7. What is the most played song on your iPod?
Obviously it’s “The Promise” by When in Rome.
8. How many days a month (or year) do you spend traveling?
I spend a good amount of time traveling. Maybe 75 days out of there year, mostly work-related with a couple of badly needed personal trips interspersed (and 10-12 bachelor parties).
9. Aside from your company/job, what is your greatest success?
The relationships I have with my friends and family. Cheesy but deal with it.
10. Whom do you admire?
My dad. Arnold Schwarzenegger. In that order.
11. What is one app that FoundersCard members should be using right now?
Toss up between the Jackthreads and Thrillist apps, obviously. And Turf Geography Club. I’m obsessed.
12. Give us your best plug/brag a little about as to what you’re working on now/next?
Right now, I’m working on pushing the limits of the Thrillist Media Group and working to build a paradigm of what a modern media company should look like. It feels good.
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