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


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.

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“Sometimes Dinner Is Just Good and Isn't Any Sort of Revelation”


"Sometimes Dinner Is Just Good and Isn't Any Sort of Revelation"

Learning to cook for yourself at home is a valuable skill that can save you money and make others happy. The learning process can be daunting, but getting better just means doing it, not cooking the best meal of your life every time.

In this age of food porn and gourmand television, becoming a better cook is both easier than ever and a psychological challenge. It’s hard to find the motivation to cook for yourself when you know you can’t cook something as good as your favorite TV chef or local take out place. Marian Bull at Food52 shares some words of wisdom for moving past your mental block:

With each stint in the kitchen you’ll familiarize yourself with the different bits that add up to a mass of knowledge. You’ll learn to clean as you go—this is a helpful tip. You’ll learn that frying a grilled cheese over very high heat burns your bread before your cheese has any shot at melting. Maybe next time you’ll turn things down, or finish your sandwiches in the oven. You’ll learn that in-season produce (e.g. the stuff you can find at the farmers market, stuff that doesn’t come from a different hemisphere) tastes better. You’ll learn that sometimes dinner is just good, and doesn’t have to be any sort of revelation. That was a big one for me.

The key is to just keep cooking. Will your dinner tonight be amazing? Maybe, but probably not, and that’s okay. Over time you’ll get better and figure out what you’re good at and what you like to cook. You may long to taste your freshly cooked meal and shout “Oh my goodness this is amazing!” but you’ll never get there if you make a lot of so-so dishes between now and then.


Dear Food52: How Do I Even Cook Anything? | Food52

Photo by Seniju.