More than a Modicum of Bravery


Gimlet Media’s flagship podcast, Startup, spends its first episodes as a meta documentary about the starting of the Gimlet network by founder Alex Blumberg. Blumberg candidly walks his listeners through the journey of starting a for-profit podcasting network, honestly presenting both the breakthroughs and the awkward moments as Gimlet found its name, its pitch, and its first investors.

In one of my favorite episodes, Blumberg shares audio of his very first pitch to a Silicon Valley investor. His voice noticeably higher, he stumbles through half-finished sentences, meandering his way around a verbal blueprint of the vision and plan. In the best moment of this episode, the investor takes Blumberg’s words and improvises an airtight two minute pitch as a model for how the pitch should have gone. He made it look deceptively simple.

Every spare minute. 

Every spare minute. 

As Verdigris anticipates its second event, and Sam continues to patiently wade through the initial roadblocks and uncertainty of an organization’s early days, we are consumed with the refinement of the pitch. The vision is there, the plan is in place, but without much tangible product (yet) that anchors inspiration and vision to reality, our words and interactions bear the full responsibility of compelling a roomful of onlookers into action.

Curious to hear what has worked so far, I reached out to some choristers and a board member to see what about Verdigris or Sam made them trust it enough to invest time and talent into its growth. Here are some Facebook message thought-snippets from some of our very first supporters.

“Good music and good friends...And I know Sam’s work ethic and how much planning has gone into all of this.” - Natalie Manning

“I love the energy of a dream when it’s brand new and just beginning to grow. I love the process of watching ideas snowball and the fine tuning process that comes after the frenzy of thought. I love being part of the adaptation process...discovering the new - it’s a growth opportunity no artist should ever shy away from.” - Katrina Burggraf-Kledas

“I love the concepts behind the programming and stories the repertoire paints. I also believe in Sam. I think he is the perfect person to make a difference in the choral communicate in Dallas. He is an outsider with different ideas.”- Jon Feinstein

“I see a lot of companies building tools that will serve open source, community, and non-profit. The old way of fundraising has to change across the board. My interest in Verdigris is trying to prove that crowdfunding or decentralized crowdfunding model can worked for non-profit art organizations.” - Jake Brukhman

All abstract, yet the abstract can inspire. It takes a more than a modicum of bravery to become even slightly more than social media involved with a new organization. We’re thankful for the people who have trusted us so far, and we’re learning from them how to reach and compel our future audiences.

Here’s to a little less meandering and a little more making things look deceptively simple.