LEE PORTER is one of three founders of InnovatioNews, a news organization that targets entrepreneurship and innovation in Colorado USA.
It’s an all-electronic publication, not printed on paper. The focus is on high quality news and other digital content which is on the IN website, distributed via email, pushed through social media and placed strategically on other websites. InnovatioNews is jumping on the age of new media with full enthusiasm – which is a pretty great fit, given their subject.
This company is jumping on the age of new media with full enthusiasm – which is a pretty great fit, given their subject.
When I talked with Lee last week, I had the opportunity to more deeply explore the story behind what they’re creating. The company was started in 2012 when Lee and her husband, Steve, along with third partner jay Jacoby, noticed the huge increases in small business innovation which were going unrecognized. Each town and region in the state seemed to be its own silo, with little cross-fertilization between industries, investors, entrepreneurs, universities, or governments.
With backgrounds in journalism, they decided this was the perfect opportunity to marry their skills and experience with a passion for building community.
The goal of this company is to publish stories about innovation at all levels, while bringing a journalistic point of view. This brings people together to accomplish larger goals, via new media, social media, small targeted events and other engagement they help facilitate.
In a way, it’s a relatively straightforward and simple mission. Take your skills, identify a market niche, and go for it.
But at a deeper level, the impact of their efforts has the potential to go far beyond just publishing news. For instance, there’s a lot happening right now in the space of personal fitness devices, what’s been called “the quantified self.” There’s an explosion of devices such as Fitbit, Nike Fuelband, Pebble, and ActiveLink. Even more interesting are the smartphone and web apps which use devices to provide real-time, useful, and personal information.
As with most emerging trends, the most compelling innovation is out on the fringes. I’ve seen some interesting ideas through my association with Innosphere – but it’s a tiny slice of what’s happening in this area.
Something like this doesn’t fit neatly into industry categories, and a significant problem in the space is that inventors and entrepreneurs aren’t well connected with each other, or with the investors they need to scale their businesses.
InnovatioNews is positioned to play a key role in creating and enhancing connections, and increasing the pace at which this fledgling startup community takes off. It’s not immediately quantifiable, but the impact can be tremendous.
Lee and I also talked about the changing landscape of higher education. I’m fascinated by the shift of universities away from tightly protecting information toward sharing information and monetizing the value of IP. Over the last decade we’ve seen a sea change in how schools are embracing entrepreneurship via class curriculum, incubation entities and technology transfer efforts. Lee estimated that we’ve already seen hundreds of industry spinoffs from CSU, CU and Colorado School of Mines via licensing, direct funding, or transfers.
InnovatioNews is at the leading edge, doing their part to blaze the trail.
What are the challenges facing this business? Given that this is a part of the fast-changing media landscape, it’s always a challenge to translate readership and engagement into profit. I’d say that InnovatioNews is better positioned than many, because it has the ability to move swiftly in a fluid market.
They’re looking to expand their leadership in key events. For instance, they’re involved in the CSU Blue Ocean Enterprise Challenge next month, a $250K business pitch competition for innovative ideas both in industry and from universities.
Longer term, they’ve been thinking about how to scale their business model by replicating to other locations. It’s a grand vision for changing the success of innovation in the country.