How Refinery29’s first lead investor just disappeared… and the company lived to tell the tale

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Refinery29 started life well before the age of unicorns, the hype of the New York startup scene, the excitement that Facebook media partnerships, Snapchat Discover, and sponsored content could save journalism as we know it.

Hell, Refinery29 started life well before we knew social media would really be a lasting thing.

Indeed, Refinery29 didn’t even really start as a women’s site. So how did one of the only media companies worth more than $ 100 million get going before blogs like Pando covered every move of the tech world? And how did four kids in the early 20s afford to build a company in New York with no funding?

Simple: They focused on revenue and profits. Ok, anyone who has built a company knows that isn’t simple at all. But when you don’t have the option between closing a round or earning your keep, at least it’s clear. “It was that financial constraint at the beginning that made us successful long term.”

In this clip, Refinery29’s co-founders and co-CEOs talk about life back when a “$ 60,000 check made [them] feel like millionaires.”

Five years in, the finally managed to raise a seed round. And wouldn’t you know it? The first investor who committed to lead the round and set the terms “just disappeared.” The founders have a special message for him.

SPONSOR MESSAGE: We handle the payments. You handle everything else. Learn more about Braintree

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Hundreds of People Have Disappeared in Eastern Ukraine

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Militia

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DONETSK, Ukraine – On a bench in a courtyard shaded by large poplars, Tanya takes a long drag of her skinny cigarette and pauses as she holds the smoke in her lungs. Then, enunciating each word slowly with the exhale, she tells me: “They took him.”

The morning of her husband’s disappearance in late May was like any other: he awoke at dawn and dressed in the police uniform she had pressed for him the night before. He wolfed down the breakfast of sausage and salad she had prepared, and then kissed her goodbye.

It was the last time she saw him

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