Serial media entrepreneur Elizabeth Spiers ’99 got her first taste of entrepreneurship while she was still at Duke and co-founded a nonprofit that dealt with student affairs.

A public policy major with a political science minor, she wanted to work in foreign policy, but she couldn’t find a job in Washington, D.C. So she continued her path in startups, this time working for an early social network.

She then moved to a consulting firm where she helped with fundraising for early-stage companies and later became an equity analyst. While she was there, she met Nick Denton, and eventually became a founding editor at Gawker.

After almost a year at Gawker, Spiers found she wasn’t making enough to survive in New York City, so she left for New York Magazine.

Spiers said entrepreneurs must strike a balance between creating and doing what they love and making enough money to pay the bills. Although one shouldn’t take a job solely for compensation reasons, she said, there are ways to work a full-time job while building in side projects one is passionate about.

That’s exactly what she did while working as an analyst, continuing to blog on the side because she knew she wanted to write.

After New York Magazine she went to Mediabistro, where she restructured its entire website and launched some new blogs. Once she was more financially stable, she decided it was again time to turn to entrepreneurship, launching Breaking Media, a media company that produced industry-focused websites.

After she left Breaking Media, Spiers launched her own media launch consulting firm while continuing to write for various publications and advise other early-stage media and tech companies.

Spiers was hired as the editor-in-chief of The New York Observer in 2011. But her next entrepreneurial endeavor was never far from her mind.

“Once you have this entrepreneurial gene, it doesn’t just go away,” she said. “Eventually, it almost seems boring and restrictive to work for an institution, and you usually end up being a serial entrepreneur.”

Now, Spiers is in the middle of fundraising for her next media company, a left-leaning news organization. She hopes to launch the company by fall 2017 or early 2018.

Recently, Spiers participated in a DukeNY event at which she interviewed former Etsy CEO and fellow Duke alumnus Chad Dickerson.

Spiers and Dickerson met and became friends because of their similar paths – they were both from the rural South, attended Duke on financial aid, and moved to New York after Duke.

Spiers’ main advice for other journalists and writers, she said, is to write what you love. Take a corporate job for a while if you have to to make ends meet, but always make time to freelance or compartmentalize your passion.

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