Business Without The Boring

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About three years ago, Jeremy Brosowsky C’95 sublet a 10-by-15-foot office in Washington D.C., bought a telephone, fax, and computer; and said, with no publishing experience on his resume, “I’m going to start a magazine.” Out rolled the first issue of Washington Business Forward eight months later. It broke even on the third issue and has been coming out monthly since its debut. “I look back on it now and wonder, ’What was I thinking?’” says Brosowsky, the publisher and CEO of Business Forward Media Inc.

Jeremy Brosowsky C’95

    Others might have asked the same question in July as Brosowsky launched his second magazine, Boston Business Forward, during what he describes as “the toughest advertising market in a decade,” but he argues, “There’s no momentum to be built by stepping on the brakes.”
    In both markets, “We think we’re filling a real void,” he says. “What we’re doing is a smart, edgy, witty, four-color, glossy good-looking monthly business magazine that’s not a bunch of press releases and not a recapitulation of what happened last week or yesterday, but looking at where things are going next week or next year.”
    Each October, for example, the Washington magazine—with a print run of just over 40,000 —features 40 rising stars in the local business community whom readers may not have heard of yet. In a recent cover package, “Why Business Beats Politics,” the magazine interviewed players in government who have gone on to jobs in the private sector to underscore the enormous growth expected in the region on the private side. Rather than rely on dry statistics, “We did it in a way that was sharp and compelling, with a bright yellow cover and a guy in a black T-shirt and black pants looking all tough, who happens to be Randy Tate,” a former Christian Coalition lobbyist-turned-business person. In its debut issue, the Boston magazine sized up potential bidders for the Red Sox with a baseball-style scorecard.
    Other than a brief stint at The Daily Pennsylvanian, Brosowsky had no journalism experience when he began the magazine and says, “I got away with a lot of mistakes early on, because the market was in such a forgiving place. Now I’m at a point in growth where I’m not making mistakes, and this market is an absolute killer.”
    Brosowsky started out as a research analyst for Goldman Sachs. Two years into that job, he started looking for other opportunities. A friend told him about a local business magazine that was for sale. They researched the company, put out several bids and lost out to a wealthy investor. “My buddy went on to other things, while I stayed at Goldman. But the idea of what I could do was in my head, so I started looking at other markets.” Because his wife, Beth Tritter C’96 G’97 “is a foreign-affairs person,” there were more opportunities for her to find work in Washington. “So we landed there.”
    Turned down by banks, Brosowsky approached his father for a loan. “Then when I became concerned I was hitting my father up for too much money, I hit up my in-laws.” Fortunately for Brosowsky’s relatives, he has since arranged outside financing. He also has kept the budget lean with small staffs (eight full-timers in Washington, three in Boston) and outsourcing for design, production, and circulation.
    While Brosowsky won’t divulge the numbers, he notes that “We are modestly profitable in Washington. The fact that we’re better than break-even less than three years into it is a feat in this business.” He’s eyeing Philadelphia for a third magazine.

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