Editia pitches for Walkley Innovation Grants and Griffin Accelerator

Walkley Grants for Innovation in Journalism

UPDATE: Editia was one of the six winners of the Walkley Foundation’s 2015 grants for Innovation in Journalism. The prize included a tour of Google’s Sydney HQ and meetings there with key executives with responsibility for media and book content on Google Play, $5000 to go towards the publication of three upcoming journalism-driven book projects and mentoring from judges and sponsors involved in the grants program.

In recent weeks we have made it to the final 20 (of 100+ applicants) and final 16 (of 85 applicants) for the Walkley Innovation Grants and Griffin Accelerator respectively.

We’re still in the running for the Walkley Grants for media startups, with the winner or winners to be announced mid-June. There is $70,000 available and Editia is excited about the potential to use a share of the funding to ramp up its longform journalism list and fine tune its operations in the next financial year. We joined half the longlisted businesses at a two-day workshop in Sydney in late April and made our final pitch to the judges via video before heading home. Cross your fingers for us!

The Griffin Accelerator is a Canberra-based organization that invests in and mentors innovative businesses at Entry 29, an entrepreneurs’ workspace at the Canberra Innovation Network. The successful entrepreneurs spend three months working with the mentors at Entry 29 and give them a 10 per cent stake in their operation for $25,000.

Applications were due on a Friday. The shortlist was announced the following Tuesday. We had to pitch to the 16 investors involved on the Thursday morning, less than two days later, and learnt whether we’d made it through to the due diligence stage on Saturday. It was a once in a lifetime, whirlwind experience, like Shark Tank on steroids. We didn’t make it through to the due diligence stage, but gratefully accepted the invitation of the CEO, Craig Davis, to attend a debrief meeting the following week.

Craig provided some amazing feedback and indicated we’d come very close to succeeding (we wish every success to the ten teams who did make it through and thank all the Griffin mentors for the opportunity to give it a go). The problem was not in our application or pitch but in the fact that our business is not as scalable as others in the running nor quite different enough from its competitors in its current form. We can’t do anything about the former given the nature of our chosen industry, but will be spending plenty of time brainstorming the latter in coming months.

One of his other pieces of advice was to think about whether our focus should be on building audiences for our books or on finding the best authors. After much discussion, we’ve decided to focus on finding and nurturing incredible authors, because it’s what we’re best at and if we do it well, should lead to reaching plenty of readers in any case.

We’re also in talks with a handful of industry colleagues who are interested in taking a stake in Editia if the opportunity comes up, so we’ll see where that takes us in the new financial year too.

Being involved in a startup has its ups and downs, and in a publishing startup even more so. Some books sell well, others not so well. It costs a lot of time and some money to publish each one, and there never seems to be enough of either. We’re happily debt-free a couple of years in but haven’t yet had the bestseller that sets us up to pay staff so that we can implement all the great ideas we have for digitally driven content and longform journalism books. It will happen, though, just you wait and see.

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