JMSC students and alumni are getting a realistic lesson in starting their own media company, courtesy of digital media expert Dan Gillmor.
A seven-day class taught by Gillmor looks at the culture of start-up companies and why digital media suit them so well. During the course, students are pinpointing a gap in the media market and developing a start-up project to fill it.
They are also learning how to identify their audience and how to pitch to potential investors.
“The future of traditional media is very uncertain, but there is a great deal of innovation in media and business models,” said Gillmor. “Entrepreneurs will have a lot to say about how tomorrow’s media ecosystem will function.”
Gillmor, an internationally recognised author and leader in digital media, is the founding director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship and Kauffman Professor of Digital Media Entrepreneurship at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, USA.“My goals are to help students understand what start-up companies are all about and some of what goes into creating one,” he said. “Each person is taking an idea and working on a) what problem they’re solving or what opportunity they’ve found; b) what the audience will be; c) what features they’d offer; (d) in a basic format, what the “product” will look like, and e) what business model will make it sustainable.”
Sanday Chongo Kabange, a Master of Journalism student from Zambia who is about to graduate, is taking the course to hone his practical and technical skills.
“I want to understand the enterprise side of digital media in an environment that is jam-packed with enormous digital tools and applications,” Kabange said.
He said he is learning how to pitch business proposals to potential investors that are marketable and sustainable as an avenue for employment creation. “I would highly recommend this training to future BJs and MJs interested in starting up their own businesses or companies,” he said.
“I didn’t want to pass up on the chance to learn about web startups from someone like Dan Gillmor,” said Jaime Chua, another MJ student.
“Dan was both gentle and harsh as he poured realism on our business proposals, but in two short weeks we became more astute at evaluating and presenting ideas.”
Gillmor says he is gratified at the response he has seen from the students.
“I’m happy to see them thinking hard about the questions and I’m delighted with many of the ideas and the way the students are developing them,” he said.