Notes on reporting a challenging community journalism profile

I bylined a challenging profile of a Philly tech community member that published on Technical.ly last week. It was a 30-interview, 7,000-word kind of longread, something different than work I’ve done before.

I felt the story was important for a local community I serve, but I also felt there were broader lessons and concepts that I believe have relevance to other small communities everywhere. Between that and my own personal interest in continuing to develop my credentials in that kind of work, I invested quite a bit of my free time to the project over the last month.

We have published other pieces of longform — see other examples here. But this was the first person-specific long read profile I’ve written — others came close but were far less exhaustive. I have some thoughts to share below. If you haven’t already, please read the piece here.

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“I want a thousand 100-person companies”: a few notes on my part of a profile on Curalate CEO Apu Gupta

Writer John Marchese profiled Apu Gupta, the CEO and cofounder of image intelligence startup Curalate, in Philadelphia magazine this month. It’s a good piece, so read it.

(Last year, Phillymag kindly profiled my cofounder and I too )

I’ve followed Apu and Curalate since their earliest days and been long eager to discuss entrepreneurship ecosystem building in the Philadelphia region — as I do in a dozen other communities in the country. (Find Technical.ly coverage of Apu and Curalate, including the offices we shared).

Business communities need to grow new, dynamic companies. In a still young Philly tech startup sector, we’ve asked the question of whether Curalate will be that region’s next big story, as part of building its scene further.

So in trying to contextualize Apu’s importance, John joined me at our annual Super Meetup this summer and asked me some questions. I wanted to share a few more thoughts on the piece.

Continue reading “I want a thousand 100-person companies”: a few notes on my part of a profile on Curalate CEO Apu Gupta

What made me proud about our sixth annual Philly Tech Week

You determine success by what goals you set. The mission of Philly Tech Week from the very start six years ago was to create an entry point for others to discover the community of technologists and entrepreneurs bubbling up in Philadelphia.

So this annual, community-supported calendar of events celebrating technology, entrepreneurship and innovation in Philadelphia will have a role for as long as those subjects warrant local on-boarding. Led by us at local tech news network Technical.ly, some 50 partners put together 150 events during a 10-day period ending this past weekend. And though we’re still collecting survey results and feedback from attendees, organizers and supporters, the early feedback I remains consistent with past years: (a) the collective calendar brings more people out to all our events and (b) the attendees include community-regulars and, just as important, people trying to better understand how to join in.

When that stops, that’s likely when PTW (and events like it) cease to matter. What does change each year is what stands out to me as particularly telling or representative from the calendar. That’s where I’m often most proud.

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Here’s the audio from my on-stage interview of Philadelphia Mayor Elect Jim Kenney

In front of an audience of 150 civil servants and economic development executives from throughout the mid-Atlantic, I interviewed last week Philadelphia Mayor Elect Jim Kenney for the second annual Rise conference on civic innovation we at Technical.ly organize.

Find the transcript and write-up here. Below listen to the audio,

Continue reading Here’s the audio from my on-stage interview of Philadelphia Mayor Elect Jim Kenney

What happens to old customers when your prices go up

Raising prices for a product or service is challenging. One strategy is to keep the headline price but simply offer a cheaper product — fewer chips in the bag, fewer deliverables in the sponsorship package.

But what happens when you so misfired from the get go that you can’t sneak in a change? Or, what if your product or service has simply gotten far better and more competitive?

I’ve heard lots of advice on how founders and early stage companies often start off by charging too little and need to try to maximize their ask early on. Too bad I didn’t know that starting Technical.ly — because our business team still struggles with the legacy of our pricing strategy from our founding, some six years ago.

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The news business is the only where the CEO isn’t meant to control controversy

This summer, I was really proud to receive a leadership award from Temple University’s Fox School of Business. The next day the local tech news site I cofounded, Technical.ly, ran a highly critical analysis of that school’s signature business plan competition and widely panned it as having lacked any real successes in 15 years.

Awkward.

A year ago, we replaced me as Editor in Chief and I have been transitioning to more of a publisher (connecting and overseeing business and editorial). The experience brings up an interesting reminder of my role in a news organization I helped found but no longer have complete control over.

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7 events our news organization held for Baltimore Innovation Week #BIW15

For the fourth annual Baltimore Innovation Week, we at Technical.ly exercised a wide range of event formats. Years into exploring events as mission delivery and revenue accrual and marketing balance, we still need to get better. But I continue to be proud of what we accomplish.

To show that, I want to highlight a few event formats I was personally proud to be a part of during #BIW15, which featured 57 events during 10 days and close to 10,000 people — it was big, bigger even than last year. (Find a wrap of this #BIW15 here.)

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Notes on putting the Technical.ly podcast on hiatus

After 18 months and two phases of the fledgling side project, we’re setting aside the monthly Technical.ly podcast.

We couldn’t invest the time into the project that it required, it didn’t fit into our short-term strategy and the audience wasn’t growing fast enough for an exception to be made. (We were only regularly getting a few hundred downloads).

Continue reading Notes on putting the Technical.ly podcast on hiatus