Adventures in Entrepreneur Land (What I’ve learned during the Walkley’s Media Incubator and Innovation Fund.)

So, the end of the longlist process is ending.

It’s been intimidating and amazing. First of all, I was like a startup virgin when I threw my crazy idea in this ring. See, sometimes I do things on a whim.

I applied for the Walkley’s Incubator on such a whim, a few days before I was going to leave for Japan, and then I flew off to Tokyo. I had a blast meeting old friends and making new ones. I got a gumball kitten jacket in Harajuku. I visited my favorite Onsen in Kobe and then went and fed some deer in Nara. It was an awesome trip. As mentioned in my other post, I came back, and almost missed the email announcing my idea had got in amongst the mass of spam that is my gmail.

The Incubator began in early May. I had stolen an hour of time in the last week of April from my amazing friend Layla, the founder of bartersugar, to help me understand just what I had gotten myself into and she gave me heaps of excellent advice about her experiences in that sixty minutes. I know not everyone is as lucky as me to have a friend who has gone through the startup process before, but this definitely helped me feel less overwhelmed when we had our first online incubator session.

One of the first things I realized when I joined the facebook community for longlisters, (is that a thing? Do they call people that?), was that my literal idea was surrounded by people with clearer, more developed projects. This was really inspiring to me as the media and its future are a subject close to my heart, and at the end of this post I’ve included a bunch of links out to the projects of other participants which I really encourage people to check out. They are all pretty fantastic in their own way.

Full disclosure, we ran into some technical difficulties during our first session. But having once participated in a cross-cultural university unit, where we live streamed our tutorials with a classroom in India and participated with those students and their professor… I was pretty used to the hiccups that can be involved when you’re using online video conferencing software.

So far the incubator has been running for 3 weeks, and we’ve had two really informative and helpful sessions with Alan Jones of Blue Chilli. As well as some awesome AMA’s with people in the startup, not for profit and media industries. For some people who have been wearing their entrepreneur hats for a while, a lot of this might just be refreshing the basics and reminding themselves what they already know. But for me, who only just put that hat on, it was really an excellent session that helped me to more clearly define my idea, it’s scope, and who I thought would really want something like that.  We’ve also had

One of the things the sessions encouraged me to do was start formulating some basic questions to get some answers from millennials, all over the world, about their news consumption habits. I wanted to know if millennials ever wanted a more engaged relationship with the news, or if everyone really had become even more bitter than me and just completely distrustful.

I thought really hard about where to put this survey, I considered posting it in the Walkley’s group, and I also considered just putting it on my facebook wall. But in the end, I realized the peoples whose opinions I most wanted to hear, were the ones I think are the most disengaged. So I posted it to a facebook meme group that I’m an admin in.

The results really surprised me. I mean, mostly because I expected 75% of them to literally just be troll responses. (I wouldn’t have been mad. I was asking for opinions in a meme group after all.) But instead I got about fifty insightful and candid responses.

Some longer than others, some angrier than others, some more understanding of the pressures faced by a modern newsroom. Most of these memes were also discerning consumers of news, actively researching and checking sources. They were engaged with other news consumers through social media, even if not directly commenting on an article themselves, sometimes sharing or simply reading through all the comments to gather the opinions of other readers and determine what other points of view were being expressed.

I don’t want to write a long rambling blog post about all the interesting things I’ve found so far, and the survey is still open and I am considering passing it on to some other meme groups to see if the trends so far continue or if once we start to pass fifty responses, a different trend emerges.

Everyone who knows me in real life has heard me speak passionately about how much I want to change the way journalism works in the 21st Century. Regardless of whether I make it through to the next round, the entire experience has been valuable to me. It’s helped me to see my idea as something tangible in the real world, and it’s informed the PhD proposal that I’ve been preparing to try and take it for a spin in an academic setting.

If the Walkleys want to inspire and empower journalists and media innovators in Australia to get out there and change the industry, then I think they’ve created an awesome platform to do just that.

Here is a few #WMIIF Longlist Linkouts

Behind The Wire 

Liminal

Queers

Geek Society Au

The Freelance Collective

Rbutr

Be The Filter

Folktale

Udee.co

Press Patron

Chasebook

Think+Do Foundation

Writersbloc

Gutenstash

Hello Humans 

Why Thank You, I Made It Myself 

Maven 

There are so many more amazing projects, this is only a small selection of the 100 odd selected for the longlist. Check out the full list over here on the Walkleys site, and if you’re interested in a learning more about project I haven’t linked out to, get in touch with me and I’ll see if I can find you the info you’re looking for.