Josh Rubin is the producer-in-charge of the CNN Express Bus, a broadcast-ready mobile news bureau that travels the country covering everything from the last two presidential elections to breaking and in-depth news stories.
Over his fifteen years in television, Josh has started his own production company, been part of the team that opened the first Apple store, and produced content for a myriad of clients including National Geographic, PBS, HGTV, and The Discovery channel. He has won multiple Peabody Awards, A National Headliner Award, and been nominated for two Emmys.
Born in Austin but raised almost everywhere else, Josh lived in Texas, Georgia, Ohio, and Connecticut before coming to Washington, DC, to attend college at The George Washington University.
Washington became home for several years after graduation, but over the course of the 2008 presidential election, Josh fell in love with Austin and vowed to return to the home he never really knew. Two years later he convinced CNN and his beautiful Jersey bride Jennifer that it was time to leave DC.
A year later their son Miles was born, becoming the second Rubin to be a native Texan.
[Photo by René Lego Photography]
HOW DID YOU GET TO CNN?
Getting into CNN was the the culmination of everything that I'd ever ever done before, from working at a summer camp to working at The Apple Store.
Everything builds on everything else and there's no job that I've ever
had that was beneath me in that quest to get something greater and something more, so...
I basically got into CNN because I worked at The Apple Store and I learned how to build Final Cut Pro editing systems and Iearned how to maintain computer systems and taught myself how to edit video and met people.
And people that I met and people that I helped, they got me jobs, I got them jobs, they brought me into CNN and I guerrilla-built them some Final Cut Pro systems and somehow managed to turn that into a
WHAT WAS THE JOB?
I'm a little bit of unique case. They said "Hey, we have this bus we want to drive it around the country make a bunch of TV, do you want to do that?" I was willing to give up a year and a half of my life to basically travel.
Take every opportunity that comes at you. That's was basically how I got to where I am. It was just, help other people out, they'll help you
out, and take advantage of everything that comes your way.
The best thing about working for CNN is I get to travel around the country and I get to meet all kinds of people. One thing I've been able to take advantage of is over the past year and half I've been covering the election and I make sure that what I would stop in a different city, I would find the startup scene in that community.
I'd go to Indianapolis and find the Capital Factory of Indianapolis. I would go down to Jacksonville, Florida, and I'd find the Josh Baer of Jacksonville, Florida, and it's, it's -- talking to people and learning new
things is the greatest part of my job.
STARTUPS AND PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGNS: GO!
After moving to Austin and spending time in the startup scene, I realized how much a presidential campaign was like a startup company. You have the candidate. The candidate is your idea, essentially, the candidate is your platform.
It's crowdfunded. Everybody's looking for, you know, give me
five dollars, give me ten dollars... There's venture capitalists putting money in from across the country and at the end you
take it public.
If you win, you take it public. The similarities also extend into the kind of hours that you're going to be at work, the um, creativity that you have to uh... put into it and just -- it consumes your life. Ask anybody who's worked an election and they'll tell you that's all there was during that period of time.
It's a sprint and a marathon all wrapped up into one. Ostensibly the idea is to change the world and to change the country for the
better? frankly, I like the "micro" of the tech startup scene better than the "macro" of the presidential election startup scene. Um... it's just a little bit, frankly more realistic.
AUSTIN VS SILICON VALLEY AND NEW YORK
The coverage of tech in Austin is not where I personally want it to be or think it should be. I think there is over emphasis in America on the tech scenes of New York and Silicon Valley.
I understand why it is, I understand that's where the critical mass is. I'm not interested that. I think there is more fire in the middle of the country right now.
There's something about this community and the businesses that are started here. Yes, they want to change the world, but they're not stupid enough to say, "Well, we're not going to worry about how we're gonna make money."
They understand that look: it's business. They want to be in
business, they want to make money. But fixing the world and making things better for everybody? By and large, it's part of the business plan.
That's a revolutionary idea, I feel like, for a city, and something I'd love to be a part of. Or at least cover.
WHAT'S THE BIGGEST ISSUE FOR A STARTUP?
It's difficult for a startup to get national press. It really all comes down to network, in all honesty, and I think anybody who's in a startup knows that you have to be out there constantly, you have to be talking to people, you have to be meeting people.
I can't tell you the thousands of PR pitches I get all the time and eventually it just -- you don't pay attention anymore. The PR pitches, the ones that I listened to? Are the ones that come from friends of mine, are the ones that come from people that I've met randomly on the street.
So... your personal network cannot be underestimated for its ability to get you more attention and to get stuff out there.
ANY ADVICE FOR NEW ENTREPRENEURS?
The best piece of advice I was ever given for new ideas and for startups was... I was reporting... I was down at Geekdom, which is an incubator down in San Antonio.And I walk in there and I'm meeting all of these different companies, and I walk in and this one company is telling absolutely everything about their business: who they're funded by, who their competitors are, what they do, how they do it. And I pause for a second and I say "Guys, thank you, but aren't you concerned about intellectual property, aren't you concerned about piracy?"
And they said no, flat out. Piracy is not the issue in startups. Obscurity is the issue in startups. You need to tell people what you do, you need to tell everybody what you do and you need to be telling them that all the time.
The echo chamber and word-of-mouth is your greatest ally in eventually making your way into national recognition.
HOW DOES AUSTIN RATE?
If the rest of the country were to adopt the model that Austin has developed for itself? And the spirit of community and altruistic entrepreneurialism that's developed here? It'll change the nation as we know it, and I think you're seeing that happen in, frankly, the mid-size cities.
Silicon Valley is Silicon Valley and New York is always going to be New York, but you're seeing communities like Indianapolis, San Antonio, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Florida -- all of these mid-size cities are having almost an awakening.
Basically they're not trying to steal factories from each other anymore and to get the next, you know, car manufacturer to come down.
Now what they're doing is trying to foster their start-up community and take that next generation of kids and say "Look: you could go and spend your 20s in New York and Silicon Valley, but when you're ready to start a family, when you're ready to actually get something real going? Come here.
The quality of life is better. The cost of living is lower. And we have all of the advantages that those coasts have.
WHY WE ARE_AUSTIN TECH?
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