ARTICLE: Studying users, businesses and competition helps news startups

Picture: Compass by Chris Lawton, license CC0 1.0

Starting a new news media business is difficult in an unstable environment of today. Christoph Sommer of TMT Industries (formerly of the University of Zurich) studied processes and practices of market orientation of news startups. Sommer’s research focuses on market intelligence about users, business customers and competitors.

The article is based on four case studies of early stage news startups: Ada, Go Baller, Informerly and Upstrt. The researcher analyzed websites, mobile services and social media accounts of the startups, looked at additional background information, and did interviews with the founders of the companies.

Startups generate market intelligence in various ways, the results show. Most attention was dedicated to learning about users. The companies use qualitative and quantitative methods, such as interviews and surveys, to learn about users’ needs and behaviors.

They put less effort into examining businesses and competitors. For example with potential advertisers, startups follow a less formal approach, relying on personal experiences and conversations.

The startups in question were open to new information and flexible to adjust to their findings, the researcher writes.

The study concludes that “generating market intelligence and responding to the findings is important for survival and success”. Of the four companies in the study, the more they learned about their environment and utilized the knowledge, the better they seemed to be at exploring new paths, and securing funding.

The article “Market Orientation of News Startups” is freely available on the publisher’s website (open access).

Picture: Compass by Chris Lawton, license CC0 1.0

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