Orientation: Launch, crash, burn, re-launch


And so ends the orientation week of the Tow-Knight’s Entrepreneurial Journalism program. There was a lot to take in, but the most salient point for me was this: Entrepreneurship is more about the creative process and learning to adapt rather than trying to execute on one targeted idea.

A little background: The Tow-Knight’s Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism has a 15-week certificate program that helps participants develop new-media business ideas. We work on our individual projects, take classes, attend networking events and do an apprenticeship with an existing start-up. Oh, and  keep blogs to reflect on the experience! This is where I’ll post weekly updates on the trials and tribulations throughout the program.

At 27, I think I am the youngest of the 13 fellows. Which I love. It’s very motivating, and I gather I’ll learn a lot — everyone has such unique backgrounds and adds different perspectives to the conversation.

We took trips to various NYC start-ups (NewsCred, Sawhorse Media, BuzzFeed and Nest) and, as I mentioned, the most important takeaway for me was the reminder to not get so caught up in the end goal for my own project (more on that later) and kind of just enjoy the ride. Hearing about the experiences of other start-ups was a great way to keep things in perspective. For example, the Shorty Awards for social media originally started out as a side project for Sawhorse but ended up being what took off for the company. And who knew Twitter would take off in the way that it did when it was first getting started?

While at Sawhorse, I found myself jotting down two lists in my notepad. On the left, “risk,” “uncertainty,” “fear of failure.” On the right, “adapt,” “calculated risk,” “pivot,” and “launch, crash, burn, re-launch.” I kind of did so in a stream-of-consciousness way without a specific purpose, but I guess the idea was that the first column lists obstacles and doubts, and the second lists counterpoints to keep in mind.

Another useful lesson from the visits: Don’t get caught up in the pursuit of perfection. There’s a lot of value in experimentation, and there’s a limit to what you can learn without just going out and giving something a try.

A few related links:

  • NYT article from last May when I was first toying with the idea of jumping into the start-up world: “When you make an investment, you are betting on the team more than the idea,” he said. “If the idea is wrong, but the team is right, they will figure it out.”
  • A Forbes article from one of NewsCred’s founder: “Irrational Optimism: An Essential Trait for Entrepreneurs.”

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