My experience with the Daily News Innovation Lab has been really rewarding, and I can share four reasons why I think any media company would benefit from starting an innovation lab:
1. With the right startup team, anything is possible.
This summer, the Daily News Innovation Lab team met with the founders of OpenWatch. OpenWatch had just completed the Matter SF accelerator program, and was on tour with fellow Matter One graduates to show off their tool. As we spoke to them, various suggestions came up about their product: Are there different ways to implement? How could we adjust the interface? The answer was always the same: we can do it. With the right start-up team, there’s no hemming-and-hawing about obstacles and challenges. Instead, there is action and implementation. When we met the founders of Olapic back in 2010, we had the exact same experience. At that time, Jose de Cabo and Luis Sanz had a photo and video sharing service based on weddings. After listening to our company’s needs, they came to us with a proposal on how they could revamp their product into a tool to facilitate photo sharing around news events. And then they did it.
2. Nothing is sacred.
Startups don’t care about turf. They don’t care about departments or what went wrong 10 years ago. The founders and developers at a startup aren’t angling to be on staff at a media company. All they care about is creating a successful, scalable product that will solve a market need. That fresh, unbiased look could be very helpful for media companies.
3. Media companies have a lot to offer.
In addition to knowledge of the industry, what works for journalists and what challenges media companies are focused on at any particular time – we also have scale. Media companies have recognizable brands, and digital properties that reach hundreds of millions of users. We have relationships with advertisers. By providing direction to startups as products are developed and allowing teams to showcase their wares on our digital properties, we can elevate the profile of promising companies, and help position them for success. We can share best practices and tell our colleagues about them.
4. We should participate in the transformation of our industry.
It’s no secret that the media industry has been challenged by change. But that doesn’t mean we should sit on the sidelines. In the few months that we have been setting up the Daily News Innovation Lab, the level of excitement and enthusiasm generated has been incredible. And this is just from talking and planning. Once our participating companies are selected and startup teams “move in” to work on their projects, I imagine this excitement and enthusiasm will grow. There’s a big difference between talking about being innovative and experimenting and trying something new, and actually doing those things. Let’s be a part of doing.
During this journey, I’ve been asked, “Why would a media company start an innovation lab?” I suspect that, sooner rather than later, more media companies will be asking themselves, “Why haven’t we?