Archived entries for Entrepreneurship

Entrepeneur profiles: Bottup/Nxtmedia

Everyone who has attended a journalism event in Spain or who has followed the development of new journalism forms in Spain will know about the role of Pau Llop and his partners. First in Bottup, the first citizen journalism website in spanish, launched in 2007. And then also in Nxtmedia, the project where they apply the experience and know how acquired through Bottup to other projects. Through both brands they make a persistent defense of the non for profit model for journalism.

Which was the biggest obstacle you have found with your projects?

Working and trying to maintain a non for profit project without investments or subsidies of any kind in almost 4 years of activity. Right now our main concern is to get the entities with means to invest in technology and knowledge to meet with us and listen to our proposal for the near future. Though we will still be non for profit, it’ll not be loss-making. We think it’s a very innovative proposal and has a medium term capacity for self-subsistence.

What would you recommend to a journalist thinking about to become also an entrepeneur?

I’d say do it. No hurries, no stress, don’t think your idea is unique and can be stealed. Start with the basics, have a tight control of expenses and think twice about where you spend your money to avoid jeopardize your project’s future. And most of all, be open to collaboration with your peers: your project will not flourish in isolation or with a “fierce competition” attitude. Internet doesn’t work that way. Oh! And when thinking about building a team, try to make it well-balanced including a business and a technology specialist. And finally, lots of patience, faith, peace of mind, and a disposition to enjoy the walk. And good luck 🙂

Key data:

  • Start up costs: 3.323€ (318€ Bottup.com + 3.005€ Nxtmedia)
  • Years of planning: 1 (Bottup.com)
  • Years to profit: Bottup is a non for profit project. It usually doesn’t carry advertising, and when it does, it’s for free. Nxtmedia was able to recover the initial 3.000€ investment after 8 meses.
  • Staff at launch: 3 journalists.
  • Staff today: 3 journalists, 1 developer y 1 designer.
  • Next steps: Modify our legal status to reflect better our non for profit approach in Nxtmedia. After that, draft a plan of technological development and economic sustainability. Open Bottup even more, transform it into a distributed and scalable tool (rather than a news site).

Entrepeneur profiles: RUIDO Photo

School of the Barcelona photojournalism collective RUIDO Photo

RUIDO Photo is a collective of photojournalists and documentary photographers founded in Barcelona in 2004. They have three main lines of activity:

  • Research and documentation, as photojournalism reports, some of them published in news outlets like Periodismo Humano.
  • Community enhancement actions, like this project of collaborative photograhy in the Congost neighbourhood.
  • Editing and publishing the digital documentary photography magazine 7.7.

Although they are a non for profit association, and don’t have an entrepeneur mindset, photographer and member of the collective Toni Arnau says that “the main and constant obstacle is the search for funds to guarantee the life of the project”. Toni recommends to other journalists to “not create big working teams, start small and build from there”, and leave the search for funds, both from private and public sector, to a professional.

Key data:

  • Start up costs: almost 0€ (hosting and domain). At the beginning they worked on the project as volunteers.
  • Planning time: 8 months.
  • Years to profit: The project is not for profit, but financing, mainly subsidies from public institutions, covers all expenses and wages.
  • Staff at the beginning: 12.
  • Staff today: 8.
  • Next steps: Keep promoting 7.7 locally and globally and redesign the website from scratch. There are also plans to start producing events related to journalism and documentary photography.

Entrepeneur profiles: Anversal

Anversal

Anversal is a newspaper and editorial design firm, founded in April 2009 by Olga Lamas, Víctor Gil and Teresa Domingo. The three of them are journalists, and worked together at the studio Cases i Associats for 10 years on all kinds of editorial projects before founding their own firm. One of their latest projects was the design of the newspaper Ara, but they have worked as well on the re-design of the portuguese newspaper Destake and other editorial and content planning projects for Time Out.

Víctor Gil used to work as an art director in the romanian newspaper Adevarul and the sunday edition of The Independent before founding his own firm. He says that the current economic situation “hasn’t been an obstacle for our company, beyond the usual: lower budgets and delayed payments”. Víctor insists to new entrepeneurs in the importance of communication and having a carefully nurtured contact network of potential clients.

Key data:

  • Start up costs: 10.000€
  • Staff at launch and today: 3.

“Journalists, as musicians, will have to do gigs”

There´s a high chance that more than one of the 5.000 or so journalists unemployed in Spain has thought the same question: can I set up my own media business?

Some of them might already have some projects in mind, ideas for news media start-ups, micro-media or one-person-media ventures… you name it.

But that´s not the point. As always, one question leads to another: who´s paying the bill? Are there any investors ready to fund new media projects in paper, online, or on whatever format they are? History tells this is a hard one.

To understand what a real investor, a professional one, thinks about this, I asked Luis Martín Cabiedes. No need for introduction, I think, but just in case: Cabiedes belongs to the family owner of Europa Press, firm in which he´s an advisor, and he´s also one of the most well-regarded business angel in the Spanish Internet sector. If this doesn´t tell you much, names such us Ole, Privalia, Rockola, Bubok or Trovit will tell the rest. He´s investor in all of these start-ups.

Question: Would you invest in a news media project?
Answer: The honest answer is no. And the reason is simple: content has not yet found a business model in the Internet. More than 15 years of history show that content has always been a bad business in the Internet and for an investor to put money on the table, you have to convince him first that there´s a business model behind.
Having said that, I do believe there is a place for journalist-entrepreneurs. There´s a place for specialized online publications that can end up being a good one-man company or 3-4 employee viable firm. Those are what we call viable projects, but not investable, so not scalable and without any possibility of being sold.

Q. Why not?
A. A professional investor always looks for start-ups that could end up with 10 to 12 million euros revenue in three or four years. A project about online content just doesn´t have that profile. Moreover, an investor is never going to buy something that doesn´t know who to sell it to later. Nowadays, the ones that could potentially buy those projects, the traditional media companies, just can´t do it because they are having a really hard time.

Q. No one is willing to pay for news online. The way out doesn´t seem to go that way, does it?
A. When we buy a newspaper, we don´t pay for the news, we pay for the paper. We have never paid for the news but for the platform, not for the content. The same happens in the music industry, we used to pay for a CD, not for the music. The Internet is not a platform, is the disappearance of the platform, and if the platform disappears you can´t continue charging for the same you were selling before. The problem is that online ads have a limit, they can´t support everything.

Q. So what would it work in the Internet: a combination of high quality content, analysis, together with the new platforms like tablets or smartphones?
A. I don´t think the solution is in the new platforms. There´s little paid content in the iPhone or the iPad, where the free of charge model of the Internet has won too. As consumers we are happy with that, it´s a feast; as companies, is a challenge. The ones who are losing out money are the media firms.

Q. What advice would you give to a journalist-entrepreneur wannabe?
A. The bad news is for the news media businesses, not for journalists. It´s the same as in the music industry, the problem is for the labels, not for the musicians. Journalists, the same as musicians, will have to do gigs. And I don´t mean it in a negative way, there are good opportunities there. There won´t be news media firms where to work, or it´ll be really hard. That´s why the best they can do is to find their niche, look for readers, become strong there, write content that people want to read, which is what this was always about, and keep the project to 4 or 5 employees. The same as a music band.

Q. And what about large traditional media, will they be able to profit from their online presence in the future?
A. No media organization, be it a TV or a newspaper, will ever make as much money as they were making before. It´s over. And the online content will never generate more than 10% of the advertising business of the old model. It won´t be enough. It´s naïve to think that the Internet and the iPad will keep them afloat. They´ll have to look for new business models.

Photo: SeedRocket

Entrepeneur profiles: FronteraD

FronteraD was launched one year ago. This online media project diferentiates itself from the rest by refusing to compete in the daily race. Instead FronteraD publishes new content weekly, focusing on quality and topics away from the usual mainstream media coverage. Two of their features have been awarded recently.

The initial project was a paper magazine, but after 6 years of planning they decided to focus their efforts on the online version, which was ready in just a year. Besides advertising, revenue comes through donations from readers, a model very much like Periodismo Humano, a similar project.

Jose Luís Toledano, Managing Director of FronteraD, thinks that a journalist that is thinking of becoming an entrepeneur should “invest time and effort in an appropiate content management system, look for a good financial partner, have luck, don’t give up. And guarantee the economic survival of the project for at least 2 years before taking it to the market”.

Key data:

  • Start-up costs: 70.000€
  • Years of planning: 6 when the project was a paper magazine with online version. When it was reduced to just an online magazine, 1 year.
  • Years to profit: 3 (planned in 2012).
  • Staff at launch: 6 plus freelance collaborators.
  • Staff today: 4 plus freelance collaborators.
  • Next step: Keep improving fronterad.com and launch a paper magazine.

A next generation of journalist

Next Generation Journalist: Nick Williams from Adam Westbrook on Vimeo.

Do you belong to this next generation? Come and join us at the second meeting BCNMediaLab: Journalists & entrepeneurs

December 21st: Journalists & entrepeneurs

Journalists Entrepeneurs Finally, it’s time for the second BCNMediaLab meeting. It will be on Tuesday, December 21st, at 19.30h in the bar 37 Grados in Barcelona.

Journalists & entrepeneurs: In the next BCNMediaLab we want to discuss an option that is increasingly popular among journalists: to become entrepeneurs. Journalists are building online micro news sites, social networks, independent audiovisual production companies, PR and communication agencies… Fortunately, there is a growing number of examples. What kind of knowledge and resources are necessary? Which ideas are more likely to succeed? and to fail? Is it a viable option for anybody, or only for a few?

We have invited four journalists-entrepeneurs to answer this and other questions, and to tell us their own experiences.

After the debate, do not leave so fast and join us for a Christmas beer in 37 Grados. Please, sign up here. See you on Tuesday 21st at 19.30.

Meanwhile, keep an eye on this blog as we will collect some ideas about this topic.



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