One of the first bits of internal feedback I received when discussing the possibility of starting an Innovation Lab at the Daily News was tied to revenue. Wouldn’t it be amazing if, over time, the Company could assemble a portfolio of successful startups, have a bit of equity in each, and skyrocket them all to success? And, while I agree that that would be pretty amazing, I knew the success or failure of the Lab shouldn’t be measured by a monetary return. So few startups succeed and, even when they do, it could be years until there is any exit. In my book, simply getting the Lab off the ground would be a massive success.
As with the mission statement, establishing how we would measure the success or failure of the Lab was a key step in the process. These initial goals helped us maintain our direction and focus, and gave us early milestones to strive for:
1. Create Dialogues around the Daily News and Innovation.
Instead of only talking about innovation efforts internally, the Lab would provide a platform for the Company to share thoughts about innovation, and to participate in conversations about innovation. We would have an outlet to discuss our prior experiences working with startups like Visual Revenue and Ola Pic. We’d have a reason to set up meetings at WeWork Labs and interact with startups. And we’d gain knowledge and experiences to share with other media companies. We would get the word out that the Daily News is interested in participating in conversations about innovation, and in innovating.
2. Excite the Organization.
If we could take some of that incredible energy and enthusiasm of entrepreneurs in the New York startup community and introduce that into the Daily News organization, there would be benefits throughout the Company. One early objective of the Lab was to fuel excitement at the Daily News: show the staff that the Company is interested in participating in the transformation of the media industry; take concrete steps to make that participation happen; and provide more people with opportunities to engage with startups.
With the introduction of Datavisual, the first Lab participating company, into the Daily News newsroom last month, we are well on our way to accomplishing both of these objectives. So now we need to set new ones. These will include thing like: giving Datavisual the support they need to succeed; taking on another project; and establishing a roadmap for the future of the Lab. The more goals we set, the more opportunities we’ll have to achieve them. So even if our goals have to be modified along the way, we need to keep articulating them.