Nothing inspires Mimi Thompson CM ’21 and Chloe Gubbay CM ’22 more than a female-led business that promotes positive change in the world. Molding that inspiration into a tangible product, they combined their ambitious energy and people skills to create the Her Hustle podcast.
This May, Thompson and Gubbay created the podcast out of a mutual interest in leadership and entrepreneurship. While interning at technology and startup companies in San Francisco during the summer of 2019, these two young women founded a partnership. They began to talk every day after work and discuss their experiences, aspirations and what they had learned.
They soon realized that these conversations were valuable and could be used to teach others about business practices and leadership skills. After much thought and planning over the course of the school year, the duo released their first episode in May 2020. Using the guiding principles of centering female voices and providing inspiration to their audience, they set off.
The Her Hustle podcast is focused on promoting the stories of female and nonbinary entrepreneurs. Founders and CEOs of companies that focus on sustainability, empowerment and social justice are prioritized.
“And once I really got to understanding it, I realized that that was the perfect combination for me, because I love technology and innovative solutions and coming up with really cool strategies but I also want to be able to give back in whatever I do,” Thompson said.
At first working from Claremont McKenna College networks and by word of mouth, the podcast featured an array of guests. From Laura Wittig, CEO of eco-conscious discovery platform Brightly, to gamer entrepreneur and CEO of Social Cipher Vanessa Gill, guests provided valuable insight. The companies varied in field matter but were united by the strong women who led the direction of their respective companies.
The process of finding these guests was a top priority for Thompson and Gubbay. It was a challenge in itself.
“We did a lot of those cold pitches at first, and they weren’t as successful as we had hoped,” Thompson said.
Generating publicity for the podcast also proved to be another challenge, especially in the time of coronavirus. As they couldn’t rely on in-person advertising or outreach, the podcasters directed all outreach on social media. Gubbay utilized her eye for aesthetic and design to create an Instagram page that not only promotes the podcast but speaks to the interests of the duo. From girl boss narrative recommendations to personal stories, the brand of the podcast goes far beyond what can be accessed on Spotify or Apple Music.
These initial challenges were part of the process of creating something unique. The concept of the “process” — the steps taken to get from an idea to a reality — is what the duo hoped to explore through their first season.
“It’s the process; it’s scary,” Gubbay said. “Hopefully we show people that that process is manageable, and it comes in all shapes and sizes and anyone can really just take it.”
The podcast is an inviting experience; listeners feel as if they are sitting at the table with the podcasters and their subjects. Thompson and Gubbay hope to leave listeners empowered and inspired in their own potential as leaders.
“My mom listens to the episodes and she says she comes away from each feeling like ‘I need to start a business,’” Gubbay said.
They also find joy in using their podcast as a platform to support these businesses. Promotion codes for the companies focused on can be accessed through the podcast and their website.
The future of the podcast is expansionary. The first season, consisting of 16 episodes, has officially wrapped up. For season two, the partners want to create a format in which the episodes discuss specific aspects of entrepreneurship.
“And then the emphasis would be related to venture capital funding, government grants, using your own money and bootstrapping and then kind of piecing these episodes together to be a lesson where, let’s say a woman wants to found a company or anyone wants to find a company, they log on and can see ‘oh, here are five options,’” Gubbay said.
They are also looking at possibly creating a mentorship program and expanding their online platform.
From lively conversations around a coffee table to a full-fledged podcast, Thompson and Gubbay have proven they are just as capable of innovation as the guests they interview.