Stephen Blackwell on SpinMedia, success, and being scared

shutterstock_396790744Stephen Blackwell’s journey to become the CEO of SpinMedia, a pop-culture website publisher, was not typical.

One snapshot: he graduated from Fordham with an English degree in 2003 after his punk-rock band was signed to a record label.

At this month’s Founders @ The Foundry roundtable discussion, Blackwell gave four key pieces of advice for students to use on their own paths to entrepreneurial success.

1. Know your interests.
Blackwell was always interested in music, so once he realized being in a band wasn’t for him, he began writing music reviews for a small publishing company. While there, he made connections that would help him later, including with investor Alex Moore, with whom he would found the music, news, and culture website, Death and Taxes.

2. Time is value.
Your time is valuable, so don’t waste it on something you don’t believe in, Blackwell says. When you believe in your work, your passion and enthusiasm will show. For example, when he sold online advertising for Death and Taxes, his obvious passion convinced companies to come on board.

3. Surround yourself with a great team.
When you’re pitching an idea to investors, the first thing they’re going to ask is, who is your team? When Blackwell launched Death and Taxes, he surrounded himself with people who understood he was working very hard for them, and so they reciprocated.

4. Be prepared to wear many hatsand to be scared.
Along the way to his current role as SpinMedia CEO, Blackwell has played many roles. He also has taken a lot of risks. What has made him successful in all of his ventures, he says, is his ability to adapt.

For students hoping to excel in entrepreneurship, Blackwell emphasized his last point again: To be successful, sometimes you have to be afraid.

But fear can lead to an incredible journey.

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