12/16/11: Two weeks after launch, new worries take hold. I have a confession to make: up until this point, these posts have been heavily vetted acts of organizational messaging. The Classical didn’t yet exist, or only sort of existed, or was about to exist, and this platform gave us the opportunity to try and set our terms in advance. That doesn’t mean they were any less truthful—or, at times, precariously candid. But they weren’t a running diary per se. They were transparency with ulterior motives, and if that seems like an obvious point to make, you don’t know how long we spent workshopping certain paragraphs. . Click here for more.
12/05/11: A DIY version of a large-scale project. The Classical launched right when everyone was leaving their desks last Friday, two months and five days after completing our Kickstarter fundraising. Thanks to the contributors whose support forced us to follow through on this crazy idea. Thanks to our sponsor Foursquare, whose support is a constant kick in the ass—this is something real now—and gives us the kind of credibility that really comes in handy during a launch. Click here for more.
11/21/11: The merits of the two-speed model. As it turned out, no one much cared that The Classical began life as a Tumblr. No one commented one way or the other; if anything, our preview was taken so literally, we probably could have gotten away with saving some of the material for later. We had always planned on taking the week of Thanksgiving off, but decided this week to make 11/20 the last day of the Tumblr Era. With disaster averted, all we could hope to do was make our point—this site would be worth reading, we hoped—and then table expectations until the real launch. Click here for more.
11/10/11: A post-punk sportswriting site gets started. Back in August, Eric Freeman—one of the writers involved in The Classical, the Kickstarter-funded sports writing startup of which I’m a founding editor—told The Village Voice “we need money so we can run The Classical like a real venture and not some quickly designed Wordpress blog or Tumblr.” Well, here we are, incorporated and sitting on over $55,000 … with a Tumblr. At least for the next month or so. Click here for more.
06/28/11: The article is journalism’s yellow mustard. If you’re the sole founder of an early-stage startup and you’re beginning to execute your concept, there’s a moment where you actually feel the company growing inside of you. You feel yourself organizing your brainpower into different departments: one cranking out content, one designing a website, one recruiting talent, one courting investors. You feel an incredible push and pull between these competing voices, each calling your attention to their own lengthy to-do list. And you remember that this is why companies ultimately grow: because you can’t do it all alone. Click here for more.
03/01/11: Write it all down! In my previous columns here at the Launch Pad, I’ve described some of the impulses that propelled me down this entrepreneurial path. This week, I’m going to shift focus and highlight a practice that has been invaluable during this process and that should come as second nature for any news entrepreneur: the “startup journal.” Click here for more.
02/18/11: What’s your hypothesis? A year ago, I had a full-time job running a political news website in Chicago and an entrepreneurial venture bouncing around in my head. At the time, I referred to it as the “backstory project”: a digital media company geared towards users who want to understand a complex news narrative, but don’t know where to start. The more I talked to friends, colleagues, and strangers about the concept, the more I heard about the alienation and confusion they often experience when interacting with the news. While my motivation grew with those conversations, I didn’t have much to show for it. I could talk about the idea, sure, but I had nothing on paper. Click here for more.