Vital Stats: Adam Rich, 28, and Ben Lerer, 27, of Thrillist.com in New York City
Company: Men's daily lifestyle e-mail newsletter
Projected 2008 Sales: About $5 million
The "In" Crowd Deep within New York City's SoHo district beats the tireless pulse of Thrillist.com, an e-mail newsletter service that keeps its 21- to 34-year-old male target audience in the know with strategic tidbits of information on everything from culture and food to gadgets and travel.
Launched in 2005, Thrillist.com produces local content for seven major U.S. cities and 500,000 subscribers, but Lerer and Rich stay behind the scenes as much as possible and let the newsletters do the talking. Says Lerer, "We're not looking to run around as the center of attention."
Culture Club: So who are the masterminds behind the brand? Two suave University of Pennsylvania grads who, after brief stints at a tech company and a hotel chain, joined forces to create a single, trusted voice for guys their age. They work hard, play hard and mirror their readers perfectly. They also foster a great company culture with seafood dinners to recognize good work, monthly meetings over a cold beer and a standing offer to cover the airfare whenever a Thrillist.com editor based in another city wants to reconnect with home base.Running with the Big Dogs: Initially fueled by investors, the company now holds its own thanks to hundreds of advertisers, including American Express and Skyy Vodka. Future plans include expanding into more cities, developing content in new areas, reaching 1 million subscribers by 2010 and becoming an online destination, thanks to a redesigned site launched in September. "It's not a question of what keeps us going," says Rich, "but a question of why would we stop?"