CEO Ben Wolin often talks about how Everyday Health was founded in his Brooklyn kitchen. Our first in-person meeting was at the end of a long day, in the main ScaleVP conference room. Ben, Mike Keriakos and Brian Cooper, cooked up some magic in that meeting. My partners and I left that meeting hungry to invest.
ScaleVP first invested in Everyday Health in 2007. At that point, the company was scaling its advertising business that it had launched in 2006. We’d come to know the company and team earlier, over the phone, when they primarily published subscription diet content. I originally contacted the company as part of a market project I was doing on vertical content companies. We liked the idea of an open, ad-supported vertical content company in the health space. Premium content in that sector is enduring (as opposed to say, sports or news, which is ephemeral) and high value, as health and wellness advertisers pay a premium for targeted consumers in a health context. By 2007, I was calling them every quarter urging them to do a financing with us to scale the business.
Our initial investment memo, the recipe for why we invested, detailed some of the company’s strengths: a large and growing market for digital ads, its leadership among startups in the space (it had more than twice the revenue of the next largest startup at the time) the combination of a consumer business that generated targeting data and an advertising business that uses it. The team, with a combination of youthful enthusiasm and wise-beyond-their-years practicality, deeply impressed us.
Seeing a founder take a startup all the way to IPO and beyond has a special sweetness among the joys of venture capital. Many in Everyday Health’s senior leadership team started in the earliest days: Ben, Brian Cooper, CFO; Scott Wolf, head of sales, and Greg Jackson, Chief Data Officer. Other newer team members (Alan Shapiro, Paul Slavin and Melanie Goldey) added to Everyday Health’s quick rise.
Together we’ve diced and hashed numbers, strategy, acquisitions and plans, but all the while my respect for Ben’s team has grown faster than the fennel in my garden. This team has mastered so many challenges: the Great Recession, M&A deals large and small, and all sorts of technical innovations that could have burned them, but instead became the icing on the cake: mobile, social, programmatic and other buzzwords representing significant market shifts. The team consistently embraced emerging shifts that could have caused an “innovator’s dilemma” but instead yielded new business lines.
Ben is a quick study, and I particularly like that he does study; Ben seeks data and advice before setting a direction. But his greatest strength is his connection with people—employees, partners, audience and investors. This sets an outstanding tone for the content and conduct of the business, and makes me especially proud to be associated with Everyday Health. ScaleVP says “Salute!” to Everyday Health and the team’s IPO.