Latin America lacks venture capital to invest in media. It's really difficult to generate new independent media, and even more difficult to get it right from the start with strong support for workflow creation, audience development and business models.
There is a broken link between venture capital and entrepreneurial journalism. This is the problem we want to solve with the Media Factory, which will offer capital, mentoring and other support to five media startups in Latin America. As part of my ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellowship, the Media Factory will generate an ecosystem of media innovation by working with new companies. It will invest US$75,000 per company in exchange for a 17 percent stake in the venture.
Media Factory was tested at Hacks/Hackers Buenos Aires with a meetup and a brainstorming session and announced at the Global Editors Network summit in Paris. It will launch in Buenos Aires in January 2014 with the support of the Media Development Investment Fund, Vivid Growth and Sasa Vucinic's new crowdsourcing platform, Indie Voices, among other investors.
Media Factory will select five teams of three people from different countries in Latin America. The teams will spend between four and six months in Buenos Aires working together on their business idea.
The idea is to identify the best practices among digital native media (those born after the explosion of the Internet) around the world and replicate them in local markets when possible. We will select participants between now and the end of the year. We'll choose teams that want to create new media outlets, initially focused on politics and business, with the idea of growing and becoming a dominant voice in the media ecosystem.
The goal is not to develop technology or platforms, but to build a new generation of media companies. Ultimately, the heart of Media Factory’s businesses will be their content.
We will accelerate media, as if we were dealing with new Internet start-ups, because we believe that investing in new digital media has the potential to become a big business. Many of the media outlets born after the explosion of the Internet have become successful operations. A few examples of media ventures that fall in this category are DailyCandy, Bleacher Report, Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, PopSugar Vox Media, Refinery29, BusinessInsider and Thrillist, among others.
However, the explosion of digital media in the Americas remains primarily in the United States. Even as we begin to see some success stories in Mexico and Brazil, digital media are not expanding as they should.
While creating the Media Factory, I read a post by Bryan Goldberg, founder of the Bleacher Report. “I’m starting another content company, and I plan to make a fortune,” he wrote. Goldberg argues that investing in media is far less risky than investing in technology, that digital media natives are growing, and that, unlike in the tech sector, there is room for many winners.
What will Media Factory offer potential entrepreneurs? We can help with workflow, access to designers, management, audience generation, refining business models, entrepreneurial community assessments and a solid network of international mentors with experience in starting new media outlets, with another network of new investors that will help grow the companies after the period of acceleration.
So, if you have a team and want to apply, just to go MediaFactory.vc and add your contact information.
Knight International Journalism Fellow Mariano Blejman is an editor and media entrepreneur specializing in data-driven journalism.
This post was translated from Spanish to English by Maite Fernández.
Global media innovation content related to the projects and partners of the ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellows on IJNet is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and edited by Jennifer Dorroh.
Image: Media Factory logo courtesy of Mariano Blejman.