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Nicholas Aster is the San Francisco-based founder and publisher of TriplePundit.com, a leading website on the subject of sustainable business. He has worked closely with a community of journalists and businesses to amass an audience of over 160,000 monthly readers and more than 500 individual journalist contributors, as well as more than three dozen corporate and academic partners. From 2007 to 2009 he managed the online component of Mother Jones magazine and oversaw the relaunching of the magazine’s online segment as the new focus of the organization. Previously he built and oversaw the technical side of TreeHugger.com, for whom he managed West Coast story leads and editorial direction. He holds an M.B.A. in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School and graduated with a B.A. in History from Washington University in St. Louis.
Transcript of the first 5 minutes:
DP: Hey everybody this Dwight Peters from QuarterWaters.com, the site for Social Entrepreneurs. Today on the program we have with us Nick Aster, the founder of TriplePundit.com. Now this is a good one. We are going to find out how Nick was able to create this website, get over 200,000 visitors a month and generate revenue while doing something good, talking about sustainability and other social impacts. Nice welcome to the program, man!
DP: Nick, before we get into the 200,000 visitors a month give our viewers a brief background about who you are and how you got started.
NA: Sure, long story short is that I have had a long history of involvement with what we now call ‘new media’ or ‘social media’. Basically I got really excited about the internet back in college. I kind of taught myself the basics, started publishing all kinds of websites just for fun, I had a little business doing designs. I got really interested specifically into publishing, basically spreading news and so on online. Blogging came along and I realized that that was something that was going to make this a lot easier and a lot more powerful, that got me really excited. I [then] got involved with a number of different start-ups in what we were calling micro-publishing at the time. Eventually combined some passions and took off with TriplePundit a few years back.
DP: So what were some of the earlier websites you made?
NA: I was involved with a company that was a news aggregator called Moreover Technologies, they were basically like Google News before there was Google News. One of the founders of that company was Nick Denton and he started Gawker which you may have heard of, one of the original successful blogs . I worked for him for a while, at Moreover then at Gawker that kind of gave me the experience and ground work to suggest that you can make a business out of this publishing idea. That actually led me to business school, which I came back to San Francisco to do. While I was there I was introduced to Graham Hill, who is the founder of TreeHugger.com. I helped him get TreeHugger off the ground and on the side started TriplePundit, it was kind of a personal blog literally. It was just something that I cared a lot about, using this online technology to describe my experience going through business school and specifically this idea of Social Entrepreneurship, and what we call sustainability and the triple bottom line. At the risk of a very long story, after business school I worked at TreeHugger for a while, TriplePundit took off to the point where it was able to sustain itself. TreeHugger was sold and Ive been working mostly on TriplePundit since then.
DP: Alright, cool! We are going to get into details about TriplePundit, im writing this down. Speak about how you met up with Graham Hill from TreeHugger. How did that come about?
NA: Sure, so at that time there was still a relatively small amount of people who were serious about online publishing as a business. And even a smaller number of people who were serious about doing it with not only the need to start a business but to address some kind of issue, a cause, something they cared about be it social or environmental. I view those things as inter-related. Meeting him was actually sort of logical, he was also a friend of Nick Denton and Nick actually introduced us and it was that simple.
DP: Alright, making connections. So TriplePundit, sum it up for us if you had to. What is TriplePundit?
NA: We describe it as a media platform but a conversation on sustainability and business. What we mean by that is really, we’re news and we’re editorial and we’re information and so on and so forth but we really think of ourselves as an on going conversation and a catalyst for conversation about what this idea of sustainability means to a business audience.
DP: We yalked briefly in the pre-interview, you said stared in 2006 but it really started to take off in 2009. Is that when you got more serious with it, you put more energy in it? What happened? Matter of fact, take me back to 2006, did you get a developer? Walk my viewers through it, step by step.