Willing to eat oatmeal and pay the employees first
Lora Valicra of Mainebiz interviewed Jon Whitney, the publication’s founder, about its early days as part of its 20th anniversary celebration.
Here is an excerpt:
MB: How did you get the idea for what later became Mainebiz?
JW: By 1994 I was looking for something else to publish. I thought the Portland area and southern Maine could use some kind of a business publication. The job the Portland Press Herald was doing, well, I won’t characterize it, but I thought there was room for improvement with a publication devoted to business news and information.
MB: What was the business environment like?
JW: When I started this magazine, I was not well-connected in Portland. But when I would talk with people I knew, like commercial real estate people or a banker, I got encouraging comments that they might support it if I started it. I started with $1,500 to put a prototype together and literally knocked on doors.
Our first issue was in December 1994. I sold something like $6,000 in [advertising] and made a little money on it. And then I did it again. I always felt I was successful because I was willing to eat oatmeal for a couple years. I always paid myself last. As long as I kept my bills and help paid, that’s all I really cared about.
MB: Describe the early days of BIZ.
JW: When I put that first issue together and subsequent ones, I did it on my living room floor. I had a waxer and ran to Kinko’s all the time because I’d mess something up and had to reprint it, then cut it, wax it and paste it on a board. Then I’d put all the boards in a box and run down to Manchester, N.H., to have the thing printed. It was like the Stone Age compared to now.
Read more here.