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How Sam Parr grew and sold his newsletter to Hubspot
$12 and a brilliant idea created a newsletter worth 8-figures
Online newsletters weren’t always as popular as they are now. But while many were dismissing the idea of content being sent via email, there were early adopters that saw this coming, like Sam Parr. Today, we are going to look at the man who not only started and sold a number of profitable businesses, but also built one of the most popular newsletters ever. Let's take a look at how he did it.
Trial and error for the win
Sam has always been intrigued in starting his own company. Even though his first attempts at founding a start-up were unsuccessful, he eventually succeeded. After selling his first company, a marketplace for Moonshine Whiskey while still in college, his second company was so profitable it made him drop out and move to San Francisco in 2012. After his second exit, Sam founded another company, BunkSF, which became the first global roommate matching app. This led to another successful exit, but Sam still wasn’t satisfied.
He already had a plan for what’s next, but was completely unaware he was about to transform an entire industry.
A risky bet
Have you ever sat in your kitchen, jobless, considering starting a business with $12? It may sound like a long shot, but for Sam it was a no-brainer. That night, hunched over his kitchen table, he created his first newsletter.
How did he get here? After leaving his job at the company that had acquired his last business, Sam started a newsletter and blog called Hustle Con. He used it to market a meet-up that was just 6 weeks away. At this event, successful entrepreneurs would give tactical advice to startups. Within a couple of weeks, he reached thousands of visitors each day, and the first Hustle Con led to 400 sold tickets and $50,000 in revenue. After the second Hustle Con, Sam quickly realized that the great turnout could be traced back to one catalyst: his newsletter. And without hesitating, he leaned into leveraging his talent for writing.
Being unconventional pays off
In May 2014, The Hustle was born. Sam started by writing 10 articles a week, but instead of covering entrepreneurs, he started uncovering stories, such as book plagiarism schemes on Amazon, and publishing under aliases and alter-egos. Whether it was ‘Steve Garcia’ (a mix of Steve Jobs and Jerry Garcia) sharing his latest LSD experience or ‘Steph Whitfield’ reporting on sexual harassment at LinkedIn, entertainment was guaranteed.
After the first 100,000 followers, it was time for Sam to scale. He focused on a new strategy: reliable, regular news. With a growing team behind it, The Hustle quickly became an influential voice that was heard all over the world. After a while, it caught the attention of CRM company Hubspot, which approached The Hustle with an acquisition offer. Sam sold the newsletter for the lump sum of $27 million dollars.
Although he’d just secured financial freedom, Sam was itching with a desire to start something new. In 2021, he teamed up with Shaan Puri to launch ‘My First Million’, a podcast about business trends and entrepreneurial lessons that reaches tens of millions of listeners.
Just a year later, he started Hampton, a highly vetted membership community for entrepreneurs, founders and CEOs, alongside serial entrepreneur Joe Speiser. After only a few months, they have already welcomed over 260 high-profile members across 35 states and 5 countries.
For Sam, the entrepreneurial route has always been the main choice. Even though it took him a bit to turn his ideas into profitable companies, his sheer determination helped him create something bigger than himself. This goes to show that even if things don’t go smoothly right off the bat, if you don’t give up and keep trying, you’ll find your path to success.
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