Emerson Spartz named Forbes 30 under 30
J.P. Gschwind | Sunday, January 24, 2016
Since age 12, Emerson Spartz has been obsessed with what makes online content go viral.
Forbes recently named Spartz, a 2009 graduate of Notre Dame, as one of its “30 under 30” in the media category for his work as founder of Dose, a tech-driven media company that curates content based on detailed analytics and predicts what stories will have success.
Spartz said he started his entrepreneurial career as a young “Harry Potter” fan who wanted to make a website. MuggleNet quickly found success, and it hooked him on conceptualizing and using the mechanisms behind the popularity of online content to attract readers.
“The principles are still the same, but Dose is significantly more technologically advanced,” Spartz said of this particular project.
Spartz said the fundamental goal of his work is to evaluate what content has the best potential to go viral, a task aided by sophisticated analytic tools that can pinpoint what makes certain pieces of content succeed and others fail. He said Internet content is becoming increasingly democratized — good content stands out and is rewarded by views and shares.
“Quality [of Internet content] is getting easier to measure,” Spartz said.
Spartz said while negative Internet content that elicits anger may attract some attention, the most successful stories on the Internet are inspiring and connect with positive human emotions.
“We share what images of ourselves we want to promote to our family and friends,” Spartz said.
According to Spartz, typically, this image aligns with positive content and uplifting stories.
Dose has received more than $30 million from investors and has grown into a substantial company with about 50 employees, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. Since its inception, Spartz said his role and his priorities have shifted.
“My work now involves much more time management and delegating,” Spartz said.
At Notre Dame, Spartz said he developed habits to become a more disciplined learner, including cultivating a voracious reading habit and completing tests to improve his information retention.
“I promised myself I would read one nonfiction book every day during college in order to get a broad perspective,” Spartz said.
Spartz said college students interested in entrepreneurship should read widely. He recommends “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries and “80/20 Sales and Marketing” by Perry Marshall, in particular.
“You need to learn how to sell — everything is sales, no matter what job you’re in,” Spartz said.
These days, Spartz devotes the first couple of hours of his day to personal development and learning, which involves a lot of research, reading and writing.
“If you can discover how to motivate yourself, then you can apply yourself,” he said.