Week Five Reading Reflections

For this week, in addition to the Facebook post assignment I mentioned in class:

How do you think you might go about deciding what goes into an MVP?

How do you think you could apply basic entrepreneurial principles such as those we discussed and you read about in an established media organization?

Name one other thing you found interesting or relevant from the readings.

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10 thoughts on “Week Five Reading Reflections

  1. Lori Shull says:

    Indulge me as I tell a story about an MVP at work. Our photo store crashed not long ago and we have been using that as an opportunity to start over – new look, new features, new infrastructure. Trust me when I say that trawling through a decade of photos on the server (most of which were not taken by existing staff) is an arduous process. Instead of uploading the photos that we know will sell (graduation), we are focusing on creating a low-res pool of images to give to anyone who wants them (they have to pay for high-res – dumb scenario, don’t ask). The pool just went live this week – check it out here: https://www.tntech.edu/univadv/ocm/photo/store. We decided that was enough to build some goodwill around campus but also with those who do still want to buy photos of their children at graduation. it’s progress, and it was also easier to do that first than the paid stuff, which we have to integrate with the university’s online payment system. The pool is small, but it will grow when we hear more from our clients about what kinds of images they want. We decided what went into out MVP based on what we could do the quickest and based on what would be the most in-demand by the widest portion of our clients. (Graduation photos sell well, but only one image at a time – no parent wants a picture of someone else’s kid.)

    The biggest things I think traditional media need to do are to figure out how to build loyalty and to get away from their reliance on their traditional modes of delivery (newsprint, TVs). With so many news outlets all covering essentially the same stories, they need to figure out how to make themselves different. The best example I can think of (oddly enough) is to recommend that they look to the magazines who have never had a story first – I’m thinking specifically of the New Yorker. I’ve been a loyal subscriber for years and the magazine has done a good job with promoting and building their app to diminish the importance of the print product.

    I liked the emphasis on picking a niche and owning it. All this time, I have thought of audience fragmentation as a bad thing (echo chambers, deeper divides between people, etc). Though it is probably common sense, this is really the first time that I have seen fragmentation as an opportunity and a good thing. Which is strange because I read niche blogs. But there it is.

    • Carrie Brown says:

      Excellent, Lori. That is a really good example of an MVP. And I’m glad to hear you are seeing opportunities in fragmentation – the first step in becoming a jpreneur 🙂

  2. Kimberly Exford says:

    For me, I think I might go about developing an MVP by first deciding what issues/problem I want to solve, and then thinking of a way to solve it as simply as possible. Once I have established an issue or concern that I want my new product to address, I would try to address it in the most efficient yet cost-effective way possible. Again, I know that this is like a “trial-run” product…changes are going to happen as I record and interpret data and other feedback. My company does this on a regular basis. We are constantly adding new ways to make communication and data storage more effective and efficient within all learning centers. Recently, we started using a program known as Salesforce. This program holds all of our data regarding students and their families, payments, evaluation results, etc. More recently, they have added a “news feed” for us to post ideas or talk about anything else we want. Think Facebook, it’s exactly the same. It was a VERY tough adjustment for me. However, even after using it for only a few months, they have added, removed, etc. so many components. The initial role out was basic. Just to get us used to the idea of what all it would entail. We used another software program before switching over, so it was good to role this new one out slowly. In just 6 months time, our company has sent out SEVERAL surveys to its employees to judge how well we have adapted and to judge the program’s overall effectiveness. With this data, they have upgraded and made changes on a regular basis. But, without the use of the initial program role out (i.e. the MVP), they wouldn’t have been able to get us to where we are now. If so, it could have taken them longer and possibly cost more money.

    I think one of the biggest things established media organizations need to do is continue seeking new ways to build revenue and spread their name. Think about the startup I discussed last week, Ampush. Though they are still fairly new…only a few years old, they have already been hugely successful, snagging Facebook as their primary client. However, that has not caused them to stop pursuing other avenues and opportunities. Even one of Ampush’s co-owners talked about how although they have Facebook, they are still actively working with Pinterest (and a few others), to find out how they could help them in the future. There’s more money to be made even after you have secured your position in the minds of users. Who else can you go after? What changes can you make? Another thing they can do is stay up-to-date with emerging media. Don’t be afraid to use social media, and other things to help build your brand name and attract customers. Sometimes it can be easy to do what you’ve always done to get what you have always gotten. However, the times are changing, and companies need to adjust their methods as well.

    I think the thing I found most interesting from this week’s readings was Eric Rise’s lean startup methodology, and the idea of “Build-Measure-Learn”. Get your idea out there as quickly as possible (in some capacity) so people (i.e. early adopters) can start using and providing feedback for you. The sooner this happens, the sooner you can make changes and get closer to your ultimate goal (a GREAT product) for consumers. **Sidenote: this idea makes me think of the iPhone and Apple’s constant changes and improvements (each year)!!

    • Carrie Brown says:

      Excellent – you’ve highlighted a number of important concepts here. Also, you are exactly right – even once you’ve had success, you have to keep iterating and looking for new avenues to pursue.

  3. For me, I strongly believe that there is correlation between what someone is passionate about and how successful he or she can build a foundation on that for a start up. I also feel that execution is an essential part to your MVP. After the initial idea and extensive research, I believe “sparkle” is important. However, for a MVP it is important to spend as little as possible on your sparkle.

    For example, while trying to launch this outdoor website and hunting club in our area, the first thing I did was design a mock website. I used footage from hunts we already had. I created fake blogs. I designed a logo, had a bare minimum of t-shirts and merchandise made with our logo and invited about 15 hunters in the area to a launch party. We guided them through the website and expressed our idea. We not only made them feel wanted, but we also made them feel that this was something they did not want to miss out on. It turned out to be success. People bought into it. Now of course, this is on a small scale.

    I feel that established media organizations should always be ready for change. I do not think that change is a bad thing. I enjoyed learning about Innovation Accounting. People get bored. Every “new” thing eventually becomes old and unless your media company can continue to change to make consumers happy then they will eventually become “old news.” In some businesses this might not be the case, but media is all about evolving. Just as my case study firm, Embrace Disruption PR, CEO Cory Stewart describes, “Innovate or die.”

    I loved reading about “Target audiences for target advertising.” “The stronger the connection between the niche and a marketable opportunity, the better for the publisher.” I found the example of Treehugger being more dominant than ArtsJournal because the market for greens service is massive very simple information, yet very smart.

    • Carrie Brown says:

      Good, and yes, passion is important. Part of what you are selling when you pitch a startup is yourself, not just the idea or business. Would be interested in how you define “sparkle.”

  4. Andrew Doughty says:

    1) You cannot simply search for problems. Searching can lead to desperation and desperation can lead to frustration and irresponsible objectives. Instead, search for the desperation.

    Where and why is desperation occurring? Once you have identified a large population of individuals in desperation, identify key stakeholders within that population and dissect their behaviors as to why they are desperate for a product or service. Upon determining what specific behaviors, events or decisions (both controllable and uncontrollable) have driven them to the point of desperation, use these stakeholders to help search for others that are exhibiting the same behaviors that could lead to the same desperation for that product or service.

    For example, last week’s episode of Shark Tank featured a couple pitching the idea for a unique baby blanket, the Zipadee-Zip. Instead of searching for a problem with their baby, they found desperation in many sleepless nights and subsequent unproductive work days. Hoping to market their priceless product, they created an authentic bond with thousands of other parents also in desperation of reliable sleep and gradually lowered the risk that their new product might not sell with the brand loyalty. These connections between the you, the innovator, and the audience has created an invaluable loyalty and genuine concern for the well-being of a population.

    2) As noted by Mark Briggs in Entrepreneurial Journalism, quality content alone does not typically result in guaranteed revenue, at least not anymore. While hard reporting and original stories can bring legitimacy and a positive reputation to established traditional media organizations, those organizations still need a certain level of influence and engagement.
    Decades ago, when there was one newspaper in town, the level of influence was dramatic. They controlled the content and essentially controlled the audience.

    With the boom of startup news organization, many of which produce quality content, the market has been saturated and the influence of one organization greatly reduced. It is imperative that the established companies continue to produce the quality content for democracy’s sake but they must create consumer engagement by allowing their readers to share their opinion.

    3) My generation (Y) and the one that has followed (Z), along with slivers of the latter half of Generation X is routinely ripped for shallow views, unrealistic expectations, excessive entitlement and a pathetic lack of loyalty.

    Why? Is it because of Facebook? Google? Civil rights? Fashion? And are the accusations fair?

    Fair or not, I believe they are accurate, although I offer a very stern caveat: If the early half of Generation X, Baby Boomers and Greatest Generation had access to iPhones, hundreds of television channels and non-traditional employment opportunities at disruptive startups, would they exhibit the same behaviors and attitudes?

    Jeff Jarvis reminds everyone that there is significantly less loyalty from employees to employers in today’s workplace. There are thousands, if not millions, of opportunities to jump ship and grab a slice of that disruptive pie. Many more employees at traditionally successful organizations are realizing that they can create something instead of following a pre-determined path.

    Are these people really being disloyal? Or are they being loyal to a new wave of innovation? Would those X’ers and Boomers have taken the leap had it been available? I think so.

    • Carrie Brown says:

      In part one you really highlight some key points, so good.

      Not sure how civil rights could have made millennial more shallow, but the other reasons you list are good points. Although I would say all generations have been affected by the distraction of phones etc. and research on menials shows a very mixed bag in terms of their preferences vis a vis other generations.

      Last one…many employers have also been “disloyal” in a sense, so this is in some ways a two-way street…e.g. few industries offer stable, lifetime employment in the sense they once did. Just something to also consider.

  5. Nicholas Beshiri says:

    In deciding what goes into an MVP it is extremely important to keep in mind two aspects that are vital to the process:
    1) Do not simply search for problems that are occurring, you need to search for the reason that these problems are occurring.
    2) You have to have a drive and be passionate about the subject matter. It is impossible to create anything great if you do not truly care solving the problem.

    Established media organizations need to be constantly trying to differentiate their approach to their client base as well as keeping up with the ever changing world of social media. Too many media organizations today are still not using social media to the fullest extent, companies are essentially using social media to do the exact same thing their website does, which is provide links to stories. Companies should be using these media to build a relationship with their client base and finding out what is important to them as the consumer.

    The thing that I found the most interesting from this week’s reading was the chapter from Briggs. The stories of the different startups like Rafat Ali’s paidContent were very good reads. Reading about the start of some of these companies really explained how much people pour their lives into their work in order to start a business. Although it did take a few years and he had basically no income for a short period, Ali created a successful business just because he was simply tired of looking for a job and decided to just start working on something.

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