The story of the Innovation Lab is the story of the importance of paying attention. Picking your head up from the day-to-day of your job, and being in tune with what’s going on around you. I don’t think it’s fair to say that the startup community was clamoring for the New York Daily News to start an innovation lab, but signs were there that indicated that we could bring value if we decided to do it.
ONA is one of the leading publisher conferences in the country, and we typically send a few editors to this conference each year. One year, one of our editors was wandering through the midway at ONA, and she was shocked to see a Daily News booth in the convention center. She couldn’t believe it- how could she not have known that the Daily News was going to have a booth at ONA? When she got closer, she figured out why. This wasn’t a Daily News booth. Instead, it was a booth sponsored by a startup company we’d been working with, that had chosen to showcase their product and offerings by plastering a Daily News case study all over their booth. Point being: even when we were not particularly paying attention to how the Daily News was impacting startups, the startups were well aware and leveraging their relationships with the Daily News to promote their products.
This was the first hint that we, as traditional media companies with established brands, may have more power to help startups than we were giving ourselves credit for. And this was just one example of how the community has really driven the development and growth of the Daily News Innovation Lab.
After this experience, and when two startups we we working with with saw growth and then exits, I had the attention of our executive team and was able to get the support to launch the Daily News Innovation Lab.