University of Michigan alumni Austin Rief (BBA ‘17) and Alex Lieberman (BBA‘15) were recently listed as 30 Under by 30 Forbes Magazine for their work on Morning Brew, a startup they launched as students at the Ross School of Business. The two co-founders connected while they were undergraduates at Ross in the fall of 2014 and officially launched Morning Brew in March 2015.
“At first, it was just a fun thing to do,” Austin Rief, co-founder and COO of Morning Brew recalls. “Through word-of-mouth, it grew to nearly 3,000 subscribers at Ross and beyond. We also had campus ambassadors at other universities who were spreading the word.”
Each morning that the New York Stock Exchange is open, subscribers receive Morning Brew’s free e-newsletter with the day’s top business headlines. Written in a casual, conversational and at times quirky tone, Morning Brew aims to be a one-stop shop for highly motivated and business-interested young professionals to obtain news.
“We set out to make business news more interesting and engaging for young people, and what we’ve created is resonating with readers,” said Rief.
The student startup was awarded Best Written Plan at the 2017 Michigan Business Challenge (MBC), the largest business plan competition at U-M. Following this win, Rief participated in Zell Entrepreneurs, which provided high-level entrepreneurial coaching, connections with Zell-supported student entrepreneurs at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya in Israel, and $8,000 in financial support for his business.
“The Zell Entrepreneurs program forced us to set goals and revisit those goals every week,” Rief says. “Stewart Thornhill was always there when we needed him for encouragement, advice and connections.”
Upon graduation, Rief joined Lieberman at the StartEd incubator in New York City to work full-time on scaling Morning Brew. The Zell Founders Fund contributed $100,000 to an early funding round for the growing startup.
“While we’ve had the privilege of watching Morning Brew’s progress firsthand, the University’s entrepreneurial community has embraced Morning Brew not only because it started here, but because it has become a trusted resource for news that matters in business today,” said Stewart Thornhill, executive director of the Zell Lurie Institute.