Reese News Lab has been a constant incubator of new projects in the last few years, from the development of Reese News as an online news provider and WhichWayNC as a North Carolina politics website, to our Summer Start-up project that tested the feasibility, viability and desirability of two student-created media projects.
This semester, Reese News Lab is continuing this tradition not by starting a new project, but by taking an old project to the next level. I am working on a team with junior Corinne Jurney to actually launch the media product that I first helped to dream up this summer, Capitol Hound.
Here’s the idea: Capitol Hound is a searchable audio archive and alert system for N.C. General Assembly floor sessions and committee meetings. Using transcription services, Capitol Hound makes hours of audio from the General Assembly searchable by quote, allowing users to search for any phrase that may have been spoken in an N.C. General Assembly session. Capitol Hound can also send alerts when audio containing keywords you care about are found, with links to the exact moment the keyword is mentioned on the floor.
I was part of a team that spent the summer researching this product idea, figuring out who might need it, whether it was feasible, and how it could be financially self-sustaining.
Now that we’ve decided to launch the product, mostly I am just excited about the venture – it will be a crazy thing to be able to say that I have been working on this project from the time we were just talking about it to when it was actually begins making revenue.
It is one thing for everyone to have nice things to say about our idea but quite another for them to actually sign a check to fund its creation.
While this is the most exciting part of the project, this is also the most terrifying.
Before we can pitch the product to anyone, we need to answer remaining questions that were left over in the summer as well as all of the logistical matters that need to happen for the actual launch.
Herein lies the challenge of the semester: It is very different to theoretically plan a business venture versus actually doing it.
Instead of talking about the theoretical costs of hosting and technical support, we need to actually pay for those services.
To launch this successful business, here are the steps that we are taking to move our theoretical product to a real product.
10 STEPS TO A SUCCESSFUL PLAN
1. Make a list of all of the questions we still need to tackle.
2. Put these items in some order on a calendar working backwards from the day we need to finish.
3. Leave extra room for all of the problems we haven’t thought of yet.
4. Schedule meetings with experts who can help us and point out all of things we haven’t thought of yet.
6. Research how to fix any problems.
7. Think happy thoughts.
8. Work some more.
9. Leave extra room to test before the launch.
10. Celebrate with a Launch Party to market our product
To be more specific, we need to address a new business model for a pilot launch. We need to think about how we are going to sell and market this product, building on our work from the summer.
This is our biggest issue besides the legal issues of payment within a school organization and actually acquiring customers.
Despite these concerns I am very optimistic about the future of Capitol Hound as these problems are things that I we can find the answers to.
It might be a surprise but research is really a major factor in trying to figure out how to solve problems in a project. You can look at how experts or other companies similar to yours have solved their problems and apply those in new ways for your own product.
If we are able to follow through with the research we find, the advice we receive and the ideas that we have, then we will be able to successfully launch Capitol Hound.