Before You Launch:
Things to Consider Before Beginning a Startup
Presented by Ju-Don Marshall Roberts
☞ Director for the Center for
☞ 17 years at The Washington
☞ Restart No. 1: News Corp-
☞ Restart No. 2: Beliefnet was
sold; had to start over,
rebuilding and training new
team for the new company
☞ Restart No. 3: Everyday
☞ J-Lab’s New Voices Board
☞ J-Lab’s New Media Women
☞ Work with various startups
☞Is this really for you?
Are you a solo act or can you lead
Will you devote the necessary time?
Do you have the resources or
resourcefulness to make this work?
Are you overwhelmed or excited by
Are You an Entrepreneur?
Dan Isenberg’s entrepreneur checklist http://bit.ly/1cvaFby
☞If they know and trust you –
your personal brand
‒What have you already
☞If you can sell the package of
you and your idea effectively
‒Are you believable?
‒Are you credible?
If “You” Build It, They Might Come
☞But they won’t stay without a fight
Don’t rest on your laurels.
As fabulous as you/your
idea/your product are, you
will be in a death match for
audience and revenue.
You may be a visionary, but
can you execute?
If “You” Build It, They Might Come
It may be a brilliant project, hobby or
distraction but is it a business?
Are you solving a problem and for whom?
Do enough people care about the problem
and would they be interested in your
Is it scalable?
Do you have the skills, time, resources to
make it work?
Good Ideas Are Not Enough
Dan Isenberg’s business opportunity checklist http://bit.ly/1cWunQb
☞Who are your competitors?
How will you differentiate your
product or service?
Does your product or service
compete with or complement them?
Is market strong enough to support
another product in this category?
Use free tools to analyze your
competitors and sharpen your
Know the Competition
Measurement and comparison tools: www.similarsites.com, www.similarweb.com,
☞Summarize your idea
Is it clear? Does it convey value, differentiation,
Create an informal advisory group and pitch them. Do
they understand it? Would they use or fund it?
Survey random people to test the idea/market.
Use others’ questions/comments to refine your idea.
Define and Refine Your Idea
☞How will you support
the site and yourself?
Advertising may not be
enough to sustain your
business; do you have
streams in mind?
Other options: Grants,
Freelance, PT work
Is It Worth Your Time?
Sustainable business models for journalism http://www.submojour.net/
Sample business models from CUNY’s Tow-Knight Center http://bit.ly/H2adaj
☞You’ll need a team that you trust and that
Hire (or team up with) people with passion.
Find people with complementary strengths,
Strive not to be the smartest person in the room.
Build a culture, not just a business.
Can You Build the Right Team?
☞Your passion is your driving force
Allows you to effectively motivate your team and
Provides inspirational leadership.
☞Unchecked emotions are dangerous
Leads you to blind adherence or belief in your own
ideas in spite of indicators or team feedback.
Results in erratic decision-making.
Can You Lose the Emotion,
but Keep the Passion?
Article: Lead and motivate – not just your team, but yourself, too http://bit.ly/1hZ1oZP
☞Good ideas need time to grow
Do your due diligence to make
sure your ideas are sound and
then give them time to work.
☞Avoid chasing every shiny new
pursuits) will likely be corrosive
and impact the execution of your
Stay Committed and Focused
☞Recognize when a
strategy is flawed
☞Seize the opportunities
you cannot afford to
Know When to Pivot
☞Build a solid foundation
Make sure what you create or
sell is replicable and scalable.
Invest in the infrastructure,
teams, technology to
adequately support your
Bigger Is Not Always Better
☞ Define your brand or others will define it for
☞ Remember your differentiator
Be True to Yourself
☞Never stop challenging your
Why won’t your product work
☞Figure out the game-changer in your
niche and become it
Lessons from legacy media
Don’t Fear the Disruption;
Be the Disruption
☞ Center for Cooperative Media and NJ News Commons
Grow & Strengthen Incubator
☞ Entrepreneur’s 2 Weeks to Startup
☞ CUNY Online Entrepreneurial Journalism Bootcamp
☞ JStart: Resources for Startups
☞ ReadWriteWeb’s Legal Resources for Startups
☞ Quantcast: Traffic and Demographics
☞ Alexa: Traffic
☞ New Business Models from the Tow-Knight Center
☞ Entrepreneur and Business Opportunity Checklist
☞ SuBMoJour: Database of Startups and Business Models
☞ Similar Web and Similar Sites: Measurement and
Resources for Startups
All links available here: http://bit.ly/19SYB5o