Panelist Profile: Laurel Touby, Founder of Mediabistro — From Writer to Entrepreneur

Our next panel, Start Something: Why Every Creative Needs To Be An Entrepreneur, will be an exciting dive into how a creative person can follow their passion and start something from nothing. Join us on Wednesday, September 21 at 6:30pm at the New School (rsvp here).

We are proud to present our second panelist profile: Laurel Touby, Founder of Mediabistro.

The Story

After graduating from Smith College in Massachusetts Laurel Touby moved to New York City in hopes of making it into big name magazines. Her career started with a stint at Working Women Magazine. She then moved on to  Business Week and eventually landed at Glamour as a contract writer for over four years.

Laurel Touby Start Something New School PanelDuring that span of time she was always collecting names and contact information from all sorts of people in the media industry.  She decided to start a “salon” with a friend to curb the loneliness that is working from home as a freelancer. Her guest lists quickly grew from 10 to 100 of New York’s finest media folks. As her mailing list continued to grow, the most popular part of her emails become the job listings.

In 1996, encouraged by a friend, Laurel set up a website. In 1999 she started to charge $100 for listings. Why $100? It sounded like a nice round number. Now Mediabistro covers everything media and publishing from book publishing to journalism to broadcast TV. The site claims 1.4 million users who are registered for its various services including job postings, classes, events, forums and its premium subscription service, AvantGuild.

Laurel went from writer to entrepreneur. Mediabistro has had it’s fair share of bumps in the road. When the job listings slowed when the economy went south, she had to figure out what else Mediabistro could sell. They tried some things that didn’t do to well (health insurance) and others that brought Mediabistro out of the red (classes and seminars) and into major profitability and eventually; a 23 million dollar sale to Jupitermedia.

Laurel recently launched new live web show, “The Secrets of Successful Startups,” broadcasting every Thursday at 1pm. To see the last episode featuring co-founders and couple David Liu and Carley Roney click here or watch below.

Do you have any questions for Laurel? Ask them in the comments and we’ll make sure to ask them at the event. Click here to RSVP.

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