Thursday, October 25, 2012

From Idea To New Start Up In Only 48 Hours

Posted By on Thu, Oct 25, 2012 at 4:05 PM

Monday mornings can always be an interesting time. Co-workers greet each other with the typical “So, what did you do this weekend?” Many will talk about various events they attended or watched on TV like the kids’ soccer match or the game between two football rivals. Others will talk about a home project they worked on or a short trip they took, while some will just state how they did nothing. So maybe it was nice to break the Monday morning mold when my answer to the water cooler question was “I started a new tech start up.”

On the evening of Friday, October 12th, a group of locals gathered at Emerge Memphis in downtown Memphis to pitch new business ideas to a community of programmers, graphic artists, marketers, and other business experts for LaunchMemphis’ 48 Hour Launch. The goal was simple — pick a couple of the ideas and over the course of the next two days build them into potential new businesses. I was amongst eight other potential new start up CEOs to pitch an idea. After presenting your idea, it would be up to the community to pick the ideas that would be worked on. The only problem was you only had 2 minutes to pitch your idea to the packed room. At the end of two minutes a blow horn would go off and
you were done.

Complicating my pitch was that my idea had no name and was already hard enough to explain in five minutes because it didn’t exist anywhere in the world, so two minutes was going to be a challenge. This would mean I had to get to the point fast. Many call this an “elevator pitch” because you should be able to tell another person the whole story by the time the two of you complete an elevator ride together.

So here was my elevator pitch —

“Have you ever read a news article online and thought ‘What happened next?’ or ‘How is this going to play out?’ Have you had to dig for the follow up story a couple of days later or did you just get lucky enough to stumble upon it later to find out what happen? What if there was a way that after you read an article that you could tell the publisher to automatically send you any updates to that specific story as they became available? Maybe a button at the bottom of the article that all you have to do was press it.

Now flip this around to the news publishers that right now are struggling as more of their revenue model is moving from physical printed material to online. Everyday more and more of their revenue is coming from online sources. This means that the more readers they have online, the more revenue they get.

By placing that previous mentioned button on their news stories, they could see if there was interest in a follow up story. Via an online dashboard, they could see if there were 20, 50, 100, or 1000 people wanting more information about a story. Based on this new insight they could then write the story and via their online dashboard send those people the link to the new story. In turn, those people would be able to return to their website and thus increase their readership numbers.

As Wall Street Journal Digital Network managing editor Raju Narisetti stated earlier this year, ‘A promiscuous audience is our new reality. Are our news rooms ready to give them an experience worth coming back to over and over again?’

I believe this product solves these problems for both news publishers and news consumers.”

So that was my idea in two minutes.

After all of those that wanted to pitch an idea were done, the community started voting. In the end, three ideas were picked — an idea for an auction site for start up founders to sell their companies to others, an idea to build horizontal farms in unused buildings in Memphis, and then my idea.

The community then started splitting out to the ideas that they wanted to work on and we set up work areas in the Emerge Memphis building. We quickly started to map out what needed to be done. First up was naming the product. We referred to it as “FollowUpStory.com,” but that sort of sucked. The team started joking about calling it “FU-Story.com,” until we finally settled on Stay-Tuned.In with help from the marketing and branding team from Archer Malmo.

Over the weekend, we continued working on various aspects of the business. Our programmer got a rough demo of the product done that allowed us to show how a user would use the product versus a publisher using the product. We got a logo that would also be the button that publishers would place on their news stories. I made phone calls to potential publishers to talk about the product and get their
interest. All of this while also writing a fleshed out business plan on how Stay-Tuned.In would be a viable business. We also established social media presences and a sign up page for those interested in using the service when it launched.

Then on Sunday evening, the community came back together to see and hear each of the new companies’ new five minute pitches and what they had gotten done. No longer were they three ideas, they were new companies — Acquire for Pennies, Green Girl Produce, and Stay-Tuned.In.

Since 48 Hour Launch, work on Stay-Tuned.In has continued. Many publishers have signed up to be part of our coming Beta launch later this year. Also news consumers have been signing up at the Stay-Tuned.In website to be part of the Beta. There has even been contact with potential investors.

So what is up next for us, I guess you will need to stay tuned in.

stay-tuned-logo.jpg

Aaron Prather is the founder of Stay-Tuned.In. You can follow Aaron on Twitter at @amprather. Sign up for Stay-Tuned.In at their website (Stay-Tuned.In) and follow them on Twitter at @nowstaytunedin.

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