I’ve read a few issues of Mental Floss over the years, having no idea the magazine was started by Duke University undergraduates (Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur). Pretty cool.
It appears they’ve done a great job expanding the brand and have been purchased by British Media investor Felix Dennis (he founded Maxim!) From the WSJ’s Russell Adams (sub required):
Messrs. Pearson and Hattikudur were college sophomores when they and a few friends raised $5,000 to print the inaugural issue of Mental Floss and distribute 3,000 copies to Duke students. They hoped there were people who, like them, sat around asking each other questions about science, history and other topics and would buy a publication that explained in an entertaining way, for example, what it’s like inside a tornado, the origins of the fist bump or why many Bolivians don’t have to pay rent.
Mental Floss went national in 2001 when the founders scraped together enough money to put 8,000 copies on newsstands. A Cleveland couple subsequently made a six-figure investment and the publication began to take off. In 2003, actress Courteney Cox brought a copy to the set of “Friends” and the publication made a cameo on the sitcom. That same year, Mental Floss LLC turned its first profit.
I am pretty excited to learn more about the Mental Floss story and the role that the Duke University campus played. I have known some Dukies (spelling?) in my life and they do like their trivia.