By Stephanie Amy Collazo
When looking at the background of founder and CEO of MediaTakeOut.com, Fred Mwangaguhunga, one wouldn’t expect him to run the most popular urban blog website in the world. With experience in law and having owned a laundry business for two years, how Fred began his reign over the go-to site for celebrity news is quite interesting. Even through managing MediaTakeOut.com with its 10 million+ monthly readers, Fred took some time out of his hectic schedule to explain how he went from law to media and gives bloggers some advice on how to start their own blogs.
YRB: How does it make you feel to know you’re founder and CEO to one of the most popular urban websites in the world?
Fred: I love to hear it. I love the sound of it. I’ve been working really hard at this for five and a half years, and it’s good to see that all this work is paying off.
YRB: What do you attribute to the success of the website?
Fred: Pretty early on, we decided that we were going to focus 100% of our efforts on building the most consumer friendly website out there. So not only is our layout driven by consumer use, but also the readers are actually the ones that decide what stories we produce.
YRB: How did you make the switch from lawyer to business owner to popular media specialist?
Fred: I practiced law for three years on Wall Street, [and] when I left that I started a laundry service. While doing the laundry service, [my partner and myself] spent all of our ad dollars on these new up-and-coming websites called blogs. It was [our] hard-earned money, so we wanted to make sure we got the most out of our ad dollars. So we watched these blogs as we advertised with them, [and] I was able to see the tremendous growth in the industry. So when we eventually sold the laundry business I knew the blogging world was definitely the place I wanted to be.
YRB: Was it difficult to get traffic to the site at first?
Fred: Yeah, it is. It was really a slow progression. Most people wonder, what was the big story that made you Media Takeout? I don’t know if there ever really was one. It was really a slow growth. From one reader to 10 readers to 20 readers to 100 readers to 1000 readers to a million readers – to now we have about 18 million readers a month.
YRB: How do you go about getting the information that leads to the site breaking the biggest stories?
Fred: A lot of the time, it comes from different sources. Sometimes people will email a tip into us, and we’ll follow up and they’ll eventually come up with a story on it. Sometimes a person will give me a call. Sometimes you kind of fall into the information, maybe paparazzi will send a bunch of photos and [we’ll] send an individual follow up with a story on it. They come in a number of different ways. If I had to quantify it, I say about a third of them come from tips and the rest come from either insiders or my staff just has them.
YRB: How is MediaTakOut.com different from its competitors?
Fred: Well, I think what we focus on, and I think what’s different from most other blogs out there is we’re actually looking to go out there and make news and report on original news stories. The majority of bloggers wake up and see what’s on Associated Press and [what] the other entertainment blogs are talking about, and then they just re-blog it. We decided early on that wasn’t what we wanted to do. We wanted to be something different. I think in the blog world there are very few that pick this approach.