A banker-turned-CEO says the smartest thing he ever did for his business was a split-second decision
- Nick Martell and Jack Kramer are the cofounders and co-CEOs of MarketSnacks, a daily finance newsletter for millennials.
Courtesy of MarketSnacks
- They've been working together on their business for nearly six years, while holding day jobs and pursuing MBAs.
- One of their company's pivotal moments happened just last year, before the the launch of Cheddar TV.
Nick Martell and Jack Kramer started MarketSnacks, a daily finance newsletter for millennials, about six years ago as a side-hustle.
The cofounders and co-CEOs have never missed a business day, and they have devoted up to three hours a night to their side gig while working day jobs in finance: Martell at UBS, Kramer at CommerzBank AG, then at the nonprofit Endeavor.
But in all that time, Martell told Business Insider, the smartest thing they ever did for their business might have been a split-second decision they made just about a year ago.
Right before the launch of streaming financial news network Cheddar, the MarketSnacks CEOs visited its founder Jon Steinberg for a casual conversation. Since they were sitting right near the studio, Steinberg asked if they would be interested in filming a test spot as a trial.
"We'd never done TV work, but we said yeah, we'll do it," said Martell. "We did a trial run with him without any preparation."
It was an uncharacteristic decision, Martell said. Typically, he explained, "I'm a little more risk-oriented than Jack is - he's a little more conservative in his approach," Martell said. That's a good thing, he explained "because there's times when I'll, for example, want to jump into something and Jack will want to take a more traditional route, and whichever one kind of feels more strongly about it, we tend to back and go behind."
But in that moment, "we both looked at each other and said, 'When else do we get an opportunity like this?' We hadn't prepared at all, but screw it, let's do it," he continued. "We know our material so well, because we both write it, that we could immediately jump into explaining what happened that day, whether it was GoPro struggling to make up market share - which was an issue at that time - or Walmart, which was just getting into e-commerce. We know the content well enough that we now feel comfortable doing it on any type of platform."
Their spontaneous screen test went so well that the cofounders developed a relationship with Steinberg and Cheddar, and, along with regular appearances on the network, they've been able to leverage that experience to appear on Nasdaq and CBS.
"When Whole Foods gets bought by Amazon, that's a millennial story at its core and you want a millennial perspective on it," Martell said. "Not the boring, Wall Street, what-were-the-earnings and how-does-this-fit-into-the-merger-and-acquisitions-news - we want to know culturally and from a business perspective how this strategically aligns and why this kind of acquisition is happening, and that's the perspective we bring."
Neither of them are based in New York City now. Martell spends most of the week pursuing an MBA at Wharton in Philadelphia, and Kramer is pursuing an MBA at the University of Michigan - but they both travel regularly to film television appearances in New York.
"We've been able to pivot the business, not only the newsletter, into TV and online video content with incredible brands in a really exciting way," Martell said, "and it was really because we made this decision to one day take a risk and jump into trying TV content on the spot."
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