Editor’s Note: A quick look back, and a longer look forward
By Brian Kovalesky, StartUp Beat Editor
In the spirit of StartUp Beat’s mission to shine a light on innovative, early-stage startups that often get little attention from the mainstream media, I rarely post anything about StartUp Beat as…well, a startup news site. However, I thought the start of the first full week of the year would be a good time to give a brief update on the site and where it’s headed in 2014.
For its first few years, StartUp Beat was a side project, and I was happy with the steady growth it achieved as a small, niche news and features publication. But over time, I began to hear from people about how much they enjoyed it, and how valuable it was for a news site to cover startups and innovations at their earliest stages—filling a hole in the news coverage of startups, technology, and innovation. That, along with steady, solid traffic growth, convinced me that StartUp Beat has a future as a media entity—although until recently its ultimate form and shape were always to be determined.
Over the last year, I’ve worked to turn StartUp Beat into a profitable business in order to reinvest in the site, expand the footprint of its coverage, and provide readers with a more expansive and interesting reading experience. But media business models are difficult, and the entire news industry has been in flux over the past ten (many would argue more) years, with ad revenue declining markedly, and content becoming so diffuse across the Internet that subscription revenue has also plummeted. But as ‘they’ say, with challenge also comes opportunity—especially for smaller, ‘niche’ news upstarts like StartUp Beat—and 2013 set the stage for what I hope is a big year which will include revenue, profitability, and a much-enhanced product for you, the reader.
But first, a quick look back. The highlight of 2013 was no doubt StartUp Beat’s inclusion in the Columbia University School of Journalism’s Single-Subject News Conference, put together and produced by fellows at the school’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism. It was a gathering of a select group of niche news sites that took as their subjects a wide range of topics—from North Korea, to Iran, to urban crime, to sports, to the ongoing conflict in Syria. Representing StartUp Beat, I was honored to be included on a panel with David Sassoon of Pulitzer Prize winner InsideClimate News, Jim O’Shea of the Chicago News Cooperative, and Kelly Virella of The Urban Thinker. Here’s video of the panel:
The conference provided a venue to connect with others pursuing a niche news model, along with those who have already found success doing it. The experience not only provided validation for the model, it also essentially served as a mini-accelerator, helping to lay the groundwork for some very exciting additions to StartUp Beat this year. These will include long-form feature articles, enhanced interfaces on all digital platforms, a new jobs/employment site specifically for early-stage startups and those looking to get in on the ground-floor of a startup, and a sponsorship program that I hope will both drive revenue for the site and be of benefit to readers.
There are already a few changes. At the bottom of each post, you’ll see a ‘Repost’ button that allows readers to syndicate any article on StartUp Beat for use on their own sites. This is being provided by Repost.us, a syndication service that allows for easy, copyright-protected content sharing. Very soon, you will also see more photos and graphics in posts, in order to make StartUp Beat both a more visually-appealing publication and to integrate more multimedia content into posts.
I’m looking forward to an exciting and ground-breaking 2014. Most of all, I’m looking forward to discovering, along with you the reader, all of the innovative things entrepreneurs come up with this year. You are an important part of making it happen, so please do not hesitate to email me, at brian (at) startupbeat.com if you have suggestions, feedback, or questions. I am currently in the early stages of soliciting site sponsorships, so if you or your company are interested, please do email me to begin the discussion. Finally, if you have a news tip for StartUp Beat, please let me know—I want to hear about your startup!
Happy New Year.