How to make media organizations successful in developing markets

I started my research here at Stanford with the question: How might we implement new business models to sustain independent media in developing markets? After talking to people, participating in conferences and taking classes, I realized that the best way to answer this question is actually to build a successful media company in a tough developing market — to show by example and create a model and success story others can follow. The power of example — the only thing that works.

That’s why I started my exploration with many business-oriented classes at the Graduate School of Business. I chose classes that would help me understand how entrepreneurship works here in Silicon Valley, and what makes companies here such successes.

Thanks to the classes, I’ve seen the news industry from the perspective of other businesses, and now understand how conservative we’ve been. First of all, I’ve found that news media is not of interest to venture investors in the valley because the costly, non-scalable model of journalism cannot sustain itself (especially after advertising revenues were sliced by Google and Facebook). That is why media outlets all over the world, not only in developing markets, are looking for a model to subsidize content creation. Some have opened in-house digital advertising agencies. Some are trying membership and digital subscription models, and some are producing live events.

I also explored methods that startup companies use to invent and develop new products, through classes and workshops in design-thinking and lean startup principles. I have been trying to answer the question of how we might use these methods as well as classic business approaches to build more successful media products.

Opportunities search

With a group of nine talented team members of my media company, we have started to implement design-thinking and lean startup methods to create best services and products, which should be the foundation of our new revenue sources.

I think it is crucial now for media all around the world to redefine the value they can provide in this new economic reality. To experiment, look forward and design unexpected solutions for readers, viewers, club members is the key. We have just started in this direction.

We’ve had several meetings with investments funds, which are potentially interested in media investments in Ukraine. The process of company evaluation has started.

Future vision

To sustain our own media organization and show the example for others we’ve decided to start from a diversification of our informational services we provide. In addition to advertising services we provide in our media outlet, we’ve working to open in-house content and event agencies and a readers club. We’ve also started analyzing a digital subscription model.