David Nikel

David Nikel is a British freelance journalist and blogger living in Trondheim. He writes extensively about all things Norway and works with Norwegian companies to improve their international communications.

Social hub
60David Nikel

David NikelFebruary 17, 2015

From Oslo to NYC via Berlin

The whole notion of a startup being “Norwegian” or any other nationality is rapidly becoming out of date.

Sure, a company will always be incorporated in a specific country, but is a startup really American if its development takes place in Asia, its sales office is in Dubai, and its content marketing is done from London?

Socius is a great example of a modern location-mobile startup that already counts people from Norway, Germany, Russia, the UK and the USA in their ranks. Right now, they’re based in Berlin, but the idea was born in Norway and future plans lie stateside.

Co-founder Daniel Butler told me about the move to Berlin, and the challenges of running a startup both there and in Norway:

“In Oslo there is less chance for serendipity. There are less people, the scenes are small anyway, whether that be music, art or tech, people all know each other so you hit the ceiling quite quickly. The Axel Springer accelerator in Berlin was perfect for us. It’s run by a media house and as we are a media startup it made sense, plus its partnered with an incubator in Silicon Valley so you hit the ground running with international opportunities. Berlin is a cheap place to live and has significant spotlight as a startup destination.”

“The reality is even Berlin is not as buzzing as so many people think it is, but if you manage to ride the wave of publicity then it can be great.”

Right now, Socius is doing its best to ride that wave of publicity, having secured a high-profile partnership with the Berlinale Film Festival:

“Our experience with Berlinale has proven there’s a need for the curation of social content. Of the tens of thousands of posts tagged with the numerous festival hashtags, our platform showcased around 1,700 of them, whereas if you follow through the individual hashtags, you have to trawl through a whole load of repetitive stuff.”

The future is global

A lot of great ideas are born in Norway, but Socius proves you don’t have to restrict yourself to the outdated notion of a nation’s borders to succeed with a startup. The world is out there and Socius are going after it. Are you?

Join us at the Technoport 2015 innovation conference in Trondheim, Norway, as we seek to awaken the entrepreneurial mindset in Norwegian entrepreneurs, students, researchers and investors.

Technoport Pitch camp
60David Nikel

David NikelFebruary 13, 2015

Pitch to Win Big Cash Prizes at Technoport 2015

Today we throw open the doors to our Pitch Camp and pitching competition at Technoport 2015. We challenge you to give us your best pitch and in return, we offer NOK 250,000 worth of prizes.

Successful applicants will participate in Technoport’s Pitch Camp taking place at DIGS on 17 March from 1600–2100. At the Pitch Camp, you will participate in sales and pitching training sessions with the top eight pitches progressing to the finals the following day, live on stage at the Technoport 2015 conference.

A panel of esteemed judges will pick the winning pitchers, who will receive:

  • First prize – NOK 100,000 awarded by NTNU Accel
  • Second prize – A Connect Springboard valued at NOK 100,000
  • Third prize – NOK 25,000 awarded by Technoport
  • Fourth prize – a flex membership for one-year at DIGS awarded by TrønderEnergi

Technoport CEO Gøril Forbord explains why an entrepreneur should hit the apply button right now:

“Pitching is one of the most important skills an entrepreneur can learn. You can have the best idea in the world, but without the ability to craft your message to your audience and sell that idea, you will never have a business. So that’s why we are holding a good old fashioned pitching competition but with a twist – a pitch camp where entrepreneurs can learn the craft. The prizes are great, but really this is about a learning experience for everyone.”

To be eligible, your startup must be working to develop a scalable business model based on an innovative product or service. As a general guideline your company should be no more than three years old.

Interested?

Apply for the Technoport 2015 Pitch Camp today. Simply email a one-page description of your startup before 3 March to pitch@technoport.no

The Technoport Crowd

Angela Lamont Lunar Mission One
60David Nikel

David NikelFebruary 12, 2015

Crowdfunding a Mission to Space

We are thrilled to welcome back Angela Lamont to Trondheim to deliver one of our Technoport 2015 keynotes. Luckily for us, she’s just as excited!

“I love Technoport! It has a unique blend of some unconventional, outside-the-box thinking with the more traditional “enquiring mind” way of examining things. I like the fact that it’s different, almost experimental, yet very pertinent to practical things.”

Angela is an award-winning broadcaster famous in the UK for bringing science to the mainstream through the BBC children’s show “It’ll Never Work”. Since then she’s presented from places as diverse as Buckingham Palace, the top of a volcano in Japan and from a fishing boat in a force 8 gale (whilst doing her own sound recording, as the sound man was out of action below decks).

She’s coming to Technoport 2015 to talk about her newest project, Lunar Mission One, where she works as a Director.

If you haven’t heard about Lunar Mission One, prepare yourself to hear about one of the most inspiring open research projects we’ve heard about in a long time. An exploratory robotic mission, it will use innovative drilling technology to deliver extraordinary new insights into the origins of the Moon and the Earth.

Lunar Mission One will also be a driver for learning more about our own planet and its history. The project will help fund an open digital record of life on Earth – of human history and civilisation, and a scientific description of the biosphere with a database of species. Publically owned and accessible to all, the Public Archive is a hugely ambitious plan that could only be resourced by a project of this scale.

Angela LamontAngela explains what the exploration aspect of the mission is all about:

“Despite being categorised as a space mission, it’s really an incredibly wide project. We need engineering technologies, not just space technology but things like drilling. We need analytics similar to what happened with the Rosetta project but instead of a comet we’ll be doing it on the moon. We’re even seeking new digital storage technology, with the capability to last a billion years. With technologies changing so fast, that’s not straightforward.”

“We’ll be storing two types of time capsule. One is an archive of life on earth, species, technology, culture and so on, with the help of partners such as big museums. Also, anyone can buy a digital memory box and decide what to send to the moon. Some people will send their family tree, some people will write a day in their life, keen photographers will store their photos in it, schools around the world will collaborate, and someone is even sending their top secret chocolate cake recipe!”

But how to pay for this?

Public money for these types of projects has been limited, so Angela and her team have turned to a subject close to Technoport’s heart: crowdfunding.

“Originally, we planned for space agency funding, a small amount of Government seed funding and other traditional space funding routes. As budgets got slashed, things weren’t moving forward so we had no other option. The nature of the project was always to be global collaboration to produce the most interactive space project in history. If it was traditionally funded, people would watch it with interest, but they wouldn’t any ownership. By crowdfunding, people all around the world can buy into the project, feel part of it and stay a part of it forever.”

“By choosing the unconvential route of crowdfunding, we are actually better able to meet our original objectives.”

Hear the full story at Technoport 2015

Angela will tell the Lunar Mission One story, focusing on the crowdfunding process and lessons learned during the project to date. Join us in Trondheim, Norway, on 18 & 19 March.

Global GPS
60David Nikel

David NikelFebruary 9, 2015

FourC Look to Connect the Dots

As the Internet of Things gathers pace and infiltrates every area of our daily lives, business opportunities are everywhere.

Trondheim-based FourC have designed an open infrastructure platform for large-scale IoT deployments. As with most technical solutions, it’s best explained with a use-case.

Consider public transportation. You wait at a bus stop, consulting the live display to see how long the next bus will be. You buy a ticket on your mobile phone, showing it to the driver as you board. The driver registers your journey on his touch-screen device. In the bus control centre, an operator tracks the progress of buses through the rush-hour traffic, watching out for potential problems. How many separate sensors and systems are in play in this example? The answer: almost too many to count.

FourC wants its Groovy M2M Cloud System to connect the dots in situations like these. Imagine collecting all the data from all these sensors, devices, computers and then analysing it in the cloud. The system would track using position sensors like GPS and enable “playback” of those, show the location of devices on maps, display statistics, allow configuration on-the-go and more. Such a system also frees the end customer to source solutions from the best provider, not necessarily the one that matches their previous hardware or software.

Trondheim bus map

Sigmund Henningsen, Business Development Manager at FourC, explains the benefits:

“On a bus you have several computers doing exactly what they are meant to do. The problem with that is you develop a system, install it on its own computer and that’s that. In a few years when the client wants new features, the world of dev tools has moved on and you have a problem integrating a new system onto the old system. Maybe they are using different suppliers or even a different operating system.”

“The basic idea of Groovy M2M is to provide the hardware layer, i.e. small computers, with a Linux operating system designed for distributed computers. The system is like VMWare, providing a messaging service to connect to the cloud and other applications. Each application can run in its container independent of other applications. We strongly believe you need to have a system that can handle different applications from different vendors and even Linux and Windows applications side by side.”

What will convince decision-makers isn’t so much the technical solution, but the business benefits of feature-rich asset management for thousands of devices. Automatic rollback, remote console support, one-click application installs, easy beta-testing of updates, faster development cycles, and sales teams who can offer more features and applications for the same hardware, will draw the bean counters to a solution like this.

B2B Marketing

For those marketers out there, FourC offers a great example of vertical marketing, with pages describing the benefits of their platform for different markets such as automotive, home automation, and healthcare and medical.

One of the more interesting potential applications for the Groovy platform is in healthcare, as Henningsen explains:

“Today, automated home technology can give alerts, cut power, cut heat to hobs, but there is little or no collection of data to share reports and spot trends. For example, if the heat to the hobs must be cut every day, then family or healthcare workers should be made aware of it.”

Striking partnerships with software developers will be key to FourC’s success, and I’ll be interested to see if they go after the end customer or take a partner-first approach. I also expect one or two markets to take off and wouldn’t be surprised to see FourC working solely with transport or solely with healthcare in a year or two.

The Groovy M2M platform launches this month.

Photo credit: Steven Kay

Nolan Bushnell
60David Nikel

David NikelFebruary 6, 2015

Founder of Atari Coming to Trondheim

I am thrilled to announce that Nolan Bushnell, founder of the Atari Corporation, will deliver a keynote speech at Technoport 2015.

(Today on Digi.no: Atari-legende til Norge)

Pong video game

Pong

Often cited as the father of the video game industry, Nolan brought Pong, the first-ever video game to market, followed by many other legendary games. He also introduced America to the in-home video game console.

Over the past four decades, Bushnell has been a prolific entrepreneur, founding numerous companies, including:

  • Catalyst Technologies, the first technology incubator
  • Etak, the first car navigation system whose mapping is still the basis for car navigation systems today
  • Androbot, a personal robotics company
  • ByVideo, the first online ordering system, which allowed customers to order and pay for product from kiosks

He also co-created touch screen technology, which is the technology of today’s mobile devices. Today, Nolan is passionate about enhancing and improving the educational process by integrating the latest in brain science and is currently the founder and CEO of his newest project, the educational gaming company, Brainrush.

Hear Nolan Bushnell speak in Trondheim

Nolan will give a keynote speech at the the Technoport 2015 innovation conference. Join us in Trondheim, Norway, on 18 & 19 March as we seek to awaken the entrepreneurial mindset.

Photo credit: c0venant

Live Crowdfunding
60David Nikel

David NikelFebruary 2, 2015

Live Crowdfunding Experience: Four Startups Announced

The jury has spoken and selected the four startup companies that will compete to sell shares to the public during the Technoport 2015 innovation conference.

As part of Technoport 2015 on the evening of 18 March, four startups will get the opportunity to present their ideas on stage in front of a live audience, competing not just their favour, but for their investment too. The audience is invited to buy available shares in the companies, giving the general public the chance to become an investor.

Last year’s success

Halvor Wold from AssiTech AS knows what it takes to succeed:

“We raised almost NOK 600,000 ($100,000) during last year’s event. It was a crucial part of our subsequent share issue that gave us the capital to further develop our AssiStep product.”

AssiTech is developing a new tool that will make it safer for the elderly and disabled to climb stairs. They were recently named one of the 20 most promising startup companies for 2015 by leading Norwegian technology magazine Teknisk Ukeblad.

“Taking part in the crowdfunding event was very important for us because the production of AssiStep is costly. Moreover we got into “smart money”, meaning that money has come from business people and investors with a large network. This provides new opportunities,” says Wold, who is the CEO and co-founder of AssiTech AS.

Wold believes crowdfunding is here to stay and believes it is a very effective way to reach out to many stakeholders simultaneously.

The Four Participants

Ads want to personalise advertising solutions for TV channels to the individual viewer to generate increased revenues for advertisers. This will be made possible using a software solution developed in collaboration with the College of Nord-Trøndelag and Innovation Norway during 2015. The company plans to take advantage of the increased use of mobile devices to browse TV channels and provide ecommerce directly via streaming.

Apraxim is a spin-off from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim. The five former NTNU students have developed the business simulator JetSim to supplement the teaching of economics and accounting. The simulator offers students the opportunity to manage businesses and compete against each other in a virtual marketplace, and to win they must put academic theory from the curriculum into practice. It is web-based and flexible, which means it can be adapted to different finance and accounting topics.

Telemotix have developed a mini computer, Telemotix TAG, which collects information about driver speed, acceleration, braking and more, to build an overall picture of how safe a driver is. This is intended to make car insurance cheaper for motorists and for insurers to avoid the most risky drivers. The company is about to begin a pilot project with one of Scandinavia’s largest insurance companies.

Vepak have developed a prototype machine to automate the filling of 40-litre bags with firewood. The innovation they have developed can pack a sack five times as fast as by hand and just as accurately. The developers have a background in mechanical engineering and mechatronics, as well as personal knowledge from the firewood industry. Vepak is starting to sign agreements with pilot customers.

Stay tuned to be first to hear when the crowdfunding campaigns go live.

Be there and see the action unfold

The Live Crowdfunding Experience is part of the Technoport 2015 conference. Join us in Trondheim, Norway, on 18 & 19 March as we seek to awaken the entrepreneurial mindset.

Anne Kjaer Riechert
60David Nikel

David NikelJanuary 29, 2015

Innovating Towards Peace

Joining Pascal Finette for Technoport 2015’s Peace, Love & Entrepreneurship session is Anne Kjær Riechert, who works at the fascinating crossroads of innovation and global peace.

A graduate from the prestigious social innovation and change management school KaosPilot in Denmark, she has since worked as creative lead and corporate social responsibility (CSR) consultant for the brand strategy company Stoic, launched her own humanitarian project, Kids Have a Dream, and studied Peace Studies in Japan on a prestigious Rotary Peace Fellowship.

She moved to Berlin where she worked as the Manager of Public Affairs for Coca-Cola, and setup a Peace Innovation Lab in collaboration with Stanford University.

The Peace Innovation Lab network provides design frameworks, principles and methodologies for Persuasive Technology interventions to measurably increase positive engagement, at scale. They aim to improve social security, provide academic knowledge, facilitate business development, build personal capacity, and build strong local communities.

She was kind enough to sit down with Technoport for a Q&A ahead of what is sure to be an inspiring talk at Technoport 2015.

Anne Kjaer Riechert

How did you connect with the Peace Innovation Lab?

The Peace Innovation Lab was founded at Stanford University in 2010. I met them when I was doing research for OpenIDEO in Palo Alto. They were mixing technology, innovation & peace studies, an unusual triangle that I found exciting. Through my research spending a lot of time in the peacekeeping world there were very fluffy concepts, but I wanted hard facts to see if the interventions we made were working. Technology is such an enabler, it allows you to take effective real-time measurements and helps you scale up if what you are doing is working.

When I graduated, I could choose between continuing my research at Stanford, or collaborating in a different way. They encouraged me to start a Peace Lab in Berlin and basically gave me a wildcard to build up a presence.

What does the Berlin branch do?

When I arrived in Berlin the cross-sector networking was missing. There were meetups of course, but they were based on pizza and beer, and what happens happens. I don’t believe in that being the only way.

Now in Berlin, we are a grass-roots movement with 670 members from all sectors including government, academia, for-profit and non profit. Once a month we run a collaborative workshop for two hours, at which experts talk about a technology or social innovation topic. This is followed by a 90-minute brainstorming session, where we aim to come up with new concepts and/or discuss implications. Afterwards we always go out for a drink together, an informal but important part of the community.

Participating in a full 2-hour program inspires people and eases the collaboration process. It makes it easier to network with people later, because you know who they are, what they are interested in, and how to navigate the system better.

Do you have any advice for developing an entrepreneurial mindset?

The mindset for a social entrepreneur is a special kind of mindset. Triple bottom line thinking is crucial. Unfortunately a lot of time social entrepreneurs are so keen to make an impact that we forget the financial viability of what we are doing. The biggest challenge faced by social entrepreneurs is getting this balance right.

What can we look forward to at Technoport 2015?

I’m going to give my personal story to encourage the entrepreneurial mindset in people and to say just go for it.

I will describe how we developed the Peace Innovation Lab in Berlin, together with how and why it is radically different from the one at Stanford. We spent a long time working with Stanford on business models and spreadsheets before we realised we hadn’t built anything. We put away the computers and started building, sourced feedback and grew.

Meet Anne in Trondheim

Join us in Trondheim, Norway, on 18 & 19 March as we seek to awaken the entrepreneurial mindset at Technoport 2015.

Pascal Finette
60David Nikel

David NikelJanuary 27, 2015

Pascal Finette: From Palo Alto to Trondheim

Travelling to Technoport 2015 all the way from the heart of Silicon Valley is serial entrepreneur Pascal Finette, whose CV makes impressive reading. He’s founded a couple of technology startups, led eBay’s Platform Solutions Group in Europe, launched a consulting firm helping entrepreneurs with their strategy & operations, invested into early-stage tech startups, led Mozilla Labs, created Mozilla’s accelerator program WebFWD, headed up Mozilla’s Office of the Chair and invested into social impact organisations around the globe at Google.org. Phew!

He’ll speak at the Peace, Love & Entrepreneurship session, apt given his experience in creating the non-profit organizations Mentor for Good, POWERUP and The Coaching Fellowship (yes, he’s managed to cram all that into his career, too!)

Right now, he heads up the Startup Lab at Singularity University, which has a mission to “educate, inspire and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges” – now that’s a mission statement we at Technoport Towers can identify with!

Pascal was kind enough to talk to Technoport about his experience and what we can expect from him at Technoport 2015:

Pascal Finette Open Innovation NASA

Making an impact

“Singularity University is fairly young, only six years old. The vast majority of our work is educational, and about two years ago we saw more startups that leveraged exponential technology so we set up a support system, to combine ongoing education with access to our community and network. Today we are three parts: a startup part, a corporate part where Fortune 500 companies reinvent themselves, then an impact partner part. The latter group have boots on the ground so they let us know what it’s really like out there. We are in Silicon Valley but it’s completely different to be out on the ground in Africa.”

“Our philosophy is simple: we bring people together to create transformative change. Our startup program brings together 80 people who all know each other and have a drive to change the world. It’s a ten-week project over the summer when we support them, bring in mentors, and other program elements that foster them and their confidence. A good chunk of the projects turn into companies. Of course, they are very early stage often with no market validation, so we may then bring them into our new accelerator.”

The entrepreneurial mindset

All this begs an obvious question that ties into the theme of Technoport 2015. Is the mindset of a social entrepreneur different from a “regular” entrepreneur, and if so, can people learn the qualities needed?

“I dislike the term social entrepreneur because it sounds like it’s different from entrepreneurship. It’s not. These people are entrepreneurs but they choose to solve a pressing social need. The skills required to solve problems are exactly the same, in fact it’s maybe a little harder because of funding sources.”

“When you look at what makes a social entrepreneur do what they do, it’s always that drive for impact, a sense for wanting to create something bigger than themselves, and a deep connection to the issue at hand, be it human trafficking, autism, whatever it is. Every human being has the capacity for that.”

“There’s an interesting trend with the new generation of “millennials”. Instead of the Wall Street boom or Dot Com boom, where the urge was to create as much money as they could, this generation seems to want to create a better planet. Perhaps it’s the hyper awareness due to today’s media, but whatever it is, I am hopeful we will see a lot more social entrepreneurs in their 20s.”

Pay it forward, every day

It should be obvious by now that Pascal is a subscriber to the “pay it forward” philosophy and as such, shares his thoughts on entrepreneurship with the thousands of subscribers to his daily email newsletter, The Heretic.

“A few years ago I had an urge to share my thoughts with the world. It began on Twitter but 140 characters was too limiting, and I couldn’t use my existing blog because it was syndicated through Planet Mozilla, so I wanted to create another place. something that is safer place. It’s turned into a really interesting experiment for me. Can I actually write something on a daily basis? I use it to reflect on something I read or heard during the day, so it’s become a wonderful way for me to reflect, sharpen my own thinking, perhaps reiterate a point I made to someone else and even expand on it.”

Meet Pascal in Trondheim

Join us in Trondheim, Norway, on 18 & 19 March as we seek to awaken the entrepreneurial mindset at Technoport 2015.

Technology Sector in Trondheim
60David Nikel

David NikelJanuary 21, 2015

The State of Trondheim’s Technology Sector

The Trondheim region is home to 554 technology companies employing over 10,000 people, generating more than NOK 14.4bn (USD $1.9bn) in revenues, according to a new report.

The Impello Analysis is an annual report from the Trondheim-based advisory firm Impello Management AS. Every year since 1996, the report analyses the state of the technology sector across the Trondheim region, which encompasses Orkdal, Melhus, Malvik, Leksvik, Stjørdal, Rissa, Midtre Gauldal, Klæbu, Skaun and the city of Trondheim itself.

The report highlights two companies for their impressive growth. Norbit ITS AS is one of the three leading European providers of road tolling systems. Their revenue grew by 209 % from 2012 to 2013. One Voice AS develop tools for risk management and crisis management and have seen 48% average revenue growth (CAGR) from 2009 to 2013.

What Trondheim offers the world

In addition to providing analysis on the raw numbers, the report asks key figures from Norway’s political and business environment challenging questions about the future of Trondheim as a technology city, providing a nice narrative to frame the report’s findings.

Monica Mæland, Norway’s Minister for Trade and Industry, says in the report:

“The amazing research and educational institutions are a driving force behind the technology industry in Trondheim. And not least, the close collaboration between those academic institutions and businesses. What happens in this environment fits nicely with the Government initiatives in areas such as oceans and energy.”

“I must also say that Nobel Prize winners May-Britt and Edvard Moser are evidence not only for the outstanding efforts they have made in medicine, but also of Trondheim’s strength in research.” – (translated from Norwegian)

Following the report’s publication this week, Professor Johan E. Hustad, Prorector of Innovation at NTNU, said the focus of the University was paying off:

“This year’s report again highlights the importance of placing innovation and entrepreneurship high on the agenda at NTNU, to create spin-off enterprises from the work of our employees and our students. Turning cutting-edge technologies and new ideas into companies with global potential is of the upmost importance in a country that basically relies on natural resources like hydropower, oil and gas as well as fisheries and aquaculture.”

Revolve NTNU electric racing car

Revolve NTNU electric racing car

Bridging the gap

It’s in this space between knowledge and business that Technoport seeks to make a difference. Our 2015 conference will attempt to awaken the entrepreneurial mindset in Norway’s researchers, students, and others working in the “knowledge economy”, to help bridge the gap between great research and commercial success. Technoport CEO Gøril Forbord explains:

“Our goal is to stimulate innovation locally, nationally and internationally. We promote discussion about innovation and arrange conferences and events where people can meet. That’s it, simply because we believe innovation will happen when people meet. We can help to further develop Trondheim’s technology sector by innovating ourselves to create better arenas for networking and facilitate more connections between academia and business.

“One thing we can’t lose sight of is the needs of the individual entrepreneur. Technoport is funded by Governmental organiations and large businesses, but it’s important for us all to remember it’s people, not organisations, that create innovation.”

Discuss what’s next for Trondheim

Join us in Trondheim, Norway, on 18 & 19 March as we seek to awaken the entrepreneurial mindset at Technoport 2015.

Print magazines
60David Nikel

David NikelJanuary 21, 2015

The Future of Print in the Digital Age

When it comes to news, there can be no doubt consumer behaviour has shifted from print to digital.

Trashy headlines, comedy distractions and celebrity exclusives now belong to the likes of BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post & TMZ rather than the tabloid press. Twitter breaks news faster than any newspaper ever could, while engaged political bloggers arguably have more sway than columnists ever did. Legacy newspaper brands are struggling to make it pay online, whereas digital-first blogs like TechCrunch and Mashable thrive with the ability to satisfy its news-hungry audience multiple times per day.

So print is dead.

Or is it?

Wil Lee-Wright

Wil Lee-Wright

“There is a vacuum in print and it is open for entrepreneurial journalists to explore”, claims Wil Lee-Wright, Editor-in-Chief at The List, a new English language print magazine for Trondheim, targeting foreigners living in and visiting the town.

“Myself, our team, my friends and family all actively seek out print publications. Of course we’re engaged with digital content but print is something we all crave. A digital platform alone won’t satisfy the needs of our audience. New international workers, asylum seekers, business travellers and tourists won’t necessarily know about the digital platform, but they will see our magazine out on the streets. We also offer digital content and anticipate doing more in the future, but the print magazine will remain our way of introducing people to the brand.”

A sustainable business?

Even if there is a demand for print publications, is it possible to build a sustainable business given the powerful targeting available with online media? Wil is convinced it is.

“From our pre-launch research we found that in places with saturated markets like London, there has been a move towards the free press. The List is a free publication but with high production values, so much so that some people aren’t quite sure if our magazine is free! This quality, together with the fact that no other publication is targeting this audience, means we have a very attractive proposition for advertisers. We are already achieving sustainable advertising rates because we offer access to a unique audience, whilst remaining accessible to all.”

Tarmo Virki

Tarmo Virki

Tarmo Virki, co-founder of CoFounder magazine, agrees.

“The differentiator is being able to reach a very specific target group. Newspapers and general interest print magazines aim as wide as the internet does, but there is one key difference. On the internet you can target advertising, so today print has to target too.”

The Finnish-Estonian publication targets the thriving technology startup scene in Europe, and launched its debut issue at the Slush conference in November 2014.

“We have seen a lot of free media like the Metro newspaper trying to create a platform through distributing the paper publication to as many people as possible. We will operate a subscription model, but continue to distribute at industry conferences too. Issue 2 will be available at the CeBIT conference in Germany.”

A credible voice

Both The List and CoFounder are professionally designed, quality publications, the kind of magazine you’ll leave on your kitchen table and refer to again and again. This offers readers – and advertisers – something they struggle to find online, a long-term, permanent relationship. That print ad lasts forever.

Print offers journalists the chance to unshackle themselves from click-bait headlines and SEO keyword-driven copy, and explore topics with a depth and narrative that’s increasingly hard to find online.

This article from Niemann Storyboard suggests “Launching a print magazine today is courageous; some would say foolhardy.”

I say courageous, yes, but foolhardy, no. A future in which we consume news online but read more thoughtful, longer-form interviews and features in print is one I’m all for.

What do you think?