September 5, 2014

It's Not the Product, It's the Person

Starting a business is not for the self-doubting. Or even usually the self-deprecating. The first thing you have to sell is yourself — like dating, but with a greater chance of landing in debt. Alex Blumberg tells the incredible, sweat-stains-and-all saga of a man fumbling through starting a new business, and the man is: himself. Plus, new stories from Mike Birbiglia and Love + Radio.

Ten-year-old entrepreneur Asia Newson, photographed by Doug Coombe.


Ira talks to Planet Money reporter Zoe Chace about the day she spent with an 11-year-old entrepreneur named Asia Newson, who has a company called SuperBusinessGirl. Zoe says Asia is a natural at making people want to buy whatever she’s selling. She seems to instinctively understand a business principle that plenty of adult business owners miss: the first thing you have to sell people on is yourself. (10 1/2 minutes)

Act One

I Got 99 Problems and a Pitch Is One

Longtime This American Life producer Alex Blumberg decided, a while back, to try and start his own business. He also decided to record the whole process, including investor meetings that go off the rails, and other tense and awkward moments that business reporters usually don’t get access to. Alex's new podcast, telling the story of trying to start a business that makes podcasts, is called StartUp. (20 minutes)

Act Two

The Business of Show

A live recording of Mike Birbiglia telling a story about the very early days of his career. He talks about how getting into comedy is like starting up a business that no one wants; it’s all supply, no demand. Mike is on tour with a show called Thank God for Jokes. (8 1/2 minutes)


“Drivin’ on 9” by The Breeders
Act Three

The Other Real World

This story, produced by the podcast Love+Radio, is the story of a woman throwing herself into a business plan that’s really an entire life plan. The piece is non-narrated—just a long interview with the young woman, named Taylor Rose Nations. (16 minutes)