Simon Berger, publisher of Rooster Magazine, learned early on that having business partners you can trust is a key to success.
In 2007, when Berger was a senior at the University of Colorado, he and his roommate decided that, while there were many magazines around, none of them were really interesting to college students. They both realized there was a unique opportunity to create a free magazine with “content that WE wanted to read”.
Originally, they launched a finance and politics publication directed at college students. Berger quickly learned that students didn’t want to read the same sort of material they were studying in class all day. So, they immediately re-evaluated the content and launched their second issue as a college entertainment publication. It was an instant hit and the magazine started growing almost overnight.
Three years after launching, they expanded to cover the Ft. Collins market, and two years later they tripled their area by entering Denver. Along with having three active titles, Berger and his partner have created a strong website and a series of very successful events. Currently, he’s setting his sights on college campuses in Arizona and California to grow the brand. What started as a free publication on racks at one university now includes revenue streams from print subscriptions, digital advertising, events, marketing & design services, and more.
When asked about his success, Berger says “It’s all about trust. You need to find business partners you can trust, employees you can trust”. As an example, he shared that his printer, Publication Printers, was there from the beginning. “When we first launched, we didn’t know what we were doing. Publication Printers was incredibly patient and accommodated us. Their pre-press department spent time with us to show us how to prepare our files so the magazine would come out the way we expected.” This early example of trusting their vendor helped them succeed. Seven years later, they still rely on their printer to provide them with quality magazines at competitive prices and they do so because of the trust built over the years.
When asked about what led to their rapid success, the first thing Berger said was “Take it slow”. He advises not to be in a rush to grow too fast. He also attributes their continued success to “not getting big egos. We are always looking for ways to improve. We are always evolving to suit the reader. We are always saying to each other ‘what can we do better?’.” Quality is also a primary focus for him. “Whatever it is, whether it’s writing or photography”, adds Berger, “we want it to be the best. We spend money to hire good writers and good photographers”.
Berger says he still doesn’t like to tell people he’s the owner. “I tell them I’m the editor” he adds. Staying humble is very important to Berger. It’s an important part of the company culture which starts at the top. “I lead by example.”
When asked for his advice to new publishers, Berger said “After the obligatory ‘Don’t do it’? My advice is find a niche and make sure it’s something you really love.” Having a passion for the subject is something he feels is critical, because it’s all you do for a long time while you’re starting up. He adds that you need the energy that comes from loving what you’re doing in order to keep moving forward and grow.
Publication Printers is the proud sponsor of the October 2014 issue of Niched Out News!
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