For Starters: How Ricci Wolman’s Written Word Media Evolved Over Time

(Image by Jackie Sizing)

Another captivating For Starters Season 2 episode has been released this week thanks to sponsor Robinson Bradshaw. In this episode, host Anil Chawla makes his way to another startup to learn about how a company tweaked its starting approach to reach product-market fit and serve 35,000 clients.

Ricci Wolman, co-founder of Written Word Media and this week’s guest, is no stranger to entrepreneurship. (She’s also no stranger to GrepBeat; she’s been a Download Q&A subject and a Friday Nooner guest.) While some other families were composed of doctors and lawyers, Wolman said that hers had mostly entrepreneurs, allowing her to pick up on this craft from a young age.

Today, Wolman’s startup functions as an online platform aimed to help self-published authors market their books. In speaking with Chawla, Wolman explains her path to success in this role and all of her experiences along the way.

Here are this week’s highlights:

  • Before launching her startup, Wolman worked in a variety of roles and industries including as an investment banking analyst, a brand manager and on the marketing side for big companies. While it wasn’t directly entrepreneurial, she said that it has shaped what she does today. “I’d say every corporate experience that I had leading up to Written Word Media taught me something really important,” she said. “Each one of those jobs I either honed a skill or learned something about the marketplace or had mentors who really helped to get me to the point where I could actually launch something.” (6:23)
  • Through her read of The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss, Wolman said that she began to realize that she wanted to halt the consulting she was doing, and use her skills in a way that was more scalable: “I was looking for something where the company could make money when the lights were off,” she said. (16:16)
  • Although Wolman said that their primary source of revenue right now are authors and publishers, she noted the importance of also making sure that they cater toward the readers as well. “The service is still free for readers,” she said. “But we still consider them customers, because we need to make sure we offer a highly personalized, valuable experience to them because without the readers, we don’t have great products to offer to the authors.” (23:14)
  • Wolman lists three components that she feels are especially helpful along the journey toward finding product-market fit. “When I look at companies and founders who are successful at product-market fit,” she said, “there are also three variables that go into it, and I would say it’s experience, timing and luck.” (24:36)

To learn more about Written Word Media and hear Wolman and Chawla’s conversation on entrepreneurship, product-market fit and more, listen (and subscribe!) below. And thanks again to our sponsor Robinson Bradshaw.