Over the past nine months, the Google News Initiative has been working with LION Publishers and UNC’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media to study the choices news startups face in establishing and growing their companies. Through our research with nearly 300 digital journalism entrepreneurs in North America, we’ve learned that many wrestle with the same questions, but lack reliable support systems to overcome these obstacles.
With this in mind, the Google News Initiative and LION Publishers are opening applications for the GNI Startups Lab in North America, a six-month experience that will provide a group of news founders with coaching and capital to evolve their news products and accelerate their companies on the path to sustainability.
Read on to find out more.
Developed in partnership with LION Publishers, the GNI Startups Lab in North America will address the common questions news startups navigate when evolving their companies, as well as each participant’s individual path to growth. Founders will develop a deeper understanding of their audience, create short- and long-term strategy and budget plans, evolve team structures and strengthen business models, with the goal of building loyal readers and recurring revenue over time.
Applications close on January 24, 2021.
Dec 17, 2020
Program launch and application form open.
Jan 24, 2021
Application period ends
Feb 5 2021
20 semi-finalists informed & additional information requested
Mar 4, 2021
Finalists confirmed & announced
Mar 18, 2021
If you apply and get accepted into the Lab — you give it 110% — it will cost you nothing but your time.
That’s right: all of the Lab costs are covered. This includes the regular cohort trainings and one-on-one coaching, and access to our community of practice.
No fees, no tuition, no income sharing arrangement. No financial barriers to your success. Just the support you need to achieve a pathway to financial and operational sustainability.
Plus, upon successfully completing the Lab, you will receive a year-long LION membership.
The Lab will kick-off on March 18 and end in late August, 2021.
Please consider applying if you:
You should consider this Lab if you are a founder or founding team seeking to:
We are especially interested in entrepreneurs who want to serve communities that don’t often see themselves or their stories reflected in their local news.
We'll be selecting up to 12 independent digital news publications to participate.
The Lab is intentionally designed to be an online experience because we want you to stay in your community and to do the work in that context.
There will be live sessions most weeks. Once participants are selected, we can choose the day/time that works best for everyone. The sessions will also be recorded for later viewing. Most weeks, teams will have a one-on-one coaching session with their to-be-assigned mentor. Teams can select this time each week based on their schedules.
Some weeks there will be extra “expert” sessions, where teams can meet with subject matter experts to advance their business goals.
In between our live sessions, we’ll communicate using a chat platform that’s comfortable for everyone, e.g., Slack, private Facebook or LinkedIn group, etc.
The Lab should complement the efforts you’re already making in running your news business. That being said, you should be able to budget between 3 to 8 hours per week to attend and participate in coursework and coaching sessions; expect the early portion of the program to be intensive, with time commitments gradually easing over time.
Applications are now open, and you can apply here by January 24, 2021. When applying, you will be asked to provide information about the performance and objectives of your existing independent news business.
No, it doesn’t. You should apply to whatever opportunities are best suited for you at this moment –– applying to multiple ones will not help or hurt your chances of being selected.
We hope so! This is a pilot program and our hope is that we can continue to offer more of these Labs in the future. Make sure to sign up for our entrepreneurial journalism community on this page so that you can stay updated on future opportunities to work with us.
You will be able to edit your submission until the end of the application period on Jan 24, 2021.
Yes. Absolutely. If you have expertise in a specific area like sales, marketing, finance or accounting, law relating to new business, or presentation coaching, we'd really like to hear from you; please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you're unable to attend the to-be-scheduled mid-January information session then please reach out to LION's Startups Lab program manager Lisa, at email@example.com.
The Google News Initiative is Google’s effort to work with the news industry to help journalism thrive in the digital age. Our efforts focus on three pillars: working with the news industry to evolve their business models and drive sustainable growth, elevating quality journalism and empowering news organizations with new technology.
LION Publishers is a journalism association supporting independent online news publishers. Our mission is to help existing and aspiring local news entrepreneurs build and grow financially sustainable small businesses. LION members are creating the future of local news with independently owned and operated businesses that directly serve their communities. Learn more about becoming a member.