I am about to peek behind the curtain. You know, that old bit from The Wizard of Oz, "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!" This is not intended to cast doubt or to discourage our digital start-up community. It is intended to point out that the goal of business is to produce a profit. Making money, we would think, beats out the latest "wowza web-based, app infused techno company". Stay with me on this.
Over the past several years I've asked dozens, if not hundreds, of "digital dreamers" if they are making money. I get answers like, "Not yet but soon." or "I'm doing this for the love of creation." or "We're building it to sell and that will come." Meanwhile they compete for angel investors, first round financing and the attention consumers with an ever growing array of tech choices. The work, the dedication and the dream are all celebrated...but who is making money?
Meanwhile, Jack Mathews, the close to 80 year-old newspaper guy who retired two decades ago, gets bored. He sees opportunity with a hyper-local news site. Our Grinnell launches in 2007...long before folks knew what "hyper-local" meant.
Last year Jack went back to publishing a newspaper (yep...a NEWSPAPER!) that shares the back story of economic development. The Grinnell Business Journal started as a quarterly, now is published every two months. The goal, says Jack, "Is to make this a weekly business news publication."
One other thing, Jack is turning a profit. And he's doing it with an old school media piece called a "newspaper".
Just like my friends that are in digital design he has passion. He has, just like they do, talent and knowledge of the business. He also has a product that is tangible, familiar, usable and adds value in a space that is not currently covered.
We just think it's a great story and something for business to think about. How can you add value to a niche of consumers that are under-served?