Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Content incubators

Many readers are familiar with the current generation of technology incubators, best represented by Y Combinator and TechStars. They provide seed funding, experienced mentors, office space and equipment, primarily for startups working on web-based services, as well as app and software developers. In return, they take an equity stake in participating startups. Content startups don't often get into these programs, and the mentors that participate usually have little or no experience in content-related businesses.

What's needed is a new type of incubator specifically for content and content-related technology startups. Here's what would be included in a typical content incubator:
  • Like technology incubators, content incubators would provide seed funding, although the amount might be less than that usually given by technology incubators.
  • The mentors would come from incumbent media (publishers, editors and writers from print, station managers and program directors from radio, and station, programming and news directors from television), new media, and Internet/software technology, as well as financial and legal counselors.
The facility would have the typical desks and offices that you'd see in a tech incubator, but it would also have editing, production and post-production facilities:
  • A divisble newsroom with workstations running print and broadcast newsroom software
  • Print layout and design workstations
  • Audio and video webcasting studios
  • A news/talk studio for live or recorded video webcasts
  • A performance space studio seating 100-200 for concerts, comedy and talk shows with audiences
  • Video and audio production equipment similar to what I've previously written about for webcasting
  • Editing suites for audio and video post-production, and for video graphic design
  • Software workstations for app and software development
The idea, in short, is to provide content startups with the mentors and facilities that they need to develop their concepts and produce examples. The startups would use the incubator's facilities, equipment and in-house team for production and editing. They get a very low cost, low risk way of trying out new ideas, and the incubator gains equity in the businesses.


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