7 projects I started before Technically Media and why they failed

The home page of SussexToday.com, a proposed hyperlocal for Sussex County, N.J. as Patch.com was being expanded by Aol in mid-2009.

For any venture or project that reaches any remote level of success, there are surely failures that surround it.

By any standard, Technically Media is no more than a very small success, but before building that small business, I’ve had more than my fair share of failures. Being no stranger to rejection, I’ve tried my best to learn something from the handful of efforts (mostly other niche sites) that I helped launch around the beginning of 2009 in the hopes of finding a media venture of success — underemployed and without many opportunities.

Below, I share seven projects I tried launching before Technically Media, why they failed and what I learned.

In no particular order:

  1. Philly REsource — A blog on real estate and development in Philadelphia. Before Brownstoner came to Philly, before Hidden City, Eyes on the Street, Naked Philly and Curbed, the idea was that there was enough development, rumors and interest in real estate in Philadelphia.
    • Revenue Plans: Editorial strategy for a real estate agent, as I pitched to a friend and budding developer.
    • Problem: The project was always delayed.
    • Lesson: Just get started.
  2. MingShooters — A music site of Philadelphia hip-hop focused on a teenage audience, featuring un-seen footage.
    • Revenue Plans: Concerts, PSAs and other advertising dedicated to outreach to a young demographic.
    • Problem: Though I had a great partner who had access to many of the city’s most celebrated underground rappers and DJs, he had other projects and wasn’t ready to commit or always good about following through.
    • Lesson: You need the right partners.
  3. GrownAssMan — An informational and culture site for men, including videos and interviews about topics car maintenance, fashion, sport and the like. Think ‘The Worst Case Scenario Handbook‘ meets, well, let’s say Men’s Health.
    • Revenue Plans: Merchandise, yes, merchandise, and sponsored video content.
    • Problem: My partners, while interested, weren’t motivated because they had other things going on.
    • Lesson: Your partners need to be as desperate as you are.
  4. Sussex Today — a hyperlocal news site for my native Sussex County, filling an impressive hole in online coverage.
    • Revenue Plans: advertising and partner events.
    • Problem: I wasn’t living there, didn’t have a devoted partner and didn’t love the project enough to find that person.
    • Lesson: You have to love it.
  5. The Temple News alumni blog — A blog following news from the large alumni network of the student newspaper at Temple University.
    • Revenue Plans: Developing a network of more active alumni to get involved in mentorship, jobs postings and, yes, perhaps donation, fitting into the university’s outreach effort and event outreach.
    • Problem: Could not find someone to take ownership after I left.
    • Lesson: Have a plan for sustainability or your work can be lost.
  6. Philadelphia hostel — Amazed there was only one proper, Old City hostel and just a handful in Philadelphia overall, despite growing international visitors, and an active couchsurfing population. I found I knew a former staffer of the lone Old City hostel and had conversations both with him and a knowledgeable developer about the viability and likelihood of the project. I was excited about the opportunity to better connect Philadelphia to East Coast global travelers. Still, I never moved forward.
    • Revenue Plans: Traditional low-yield beds, with perhaps limited longer-term rentals.
    • Problem: I felt I lacked the knowledge of the process and the capital or connections to lead the effort.
    • Lesson: Prioritize projects by your own ability to succeed on the project
  7. We Don’t Speak the Language — After completing a video podcast and blog of our month in Western Europe (which I consider a great success and learning experience), Sean Blanda and I had planned to extend the life of WDSTL by posting on future trips and doing interviews with couchsurfers we’d host.
    • Revenue Plans: Large sponsorship or underwriting
    • Problem: We were proud of what we had already done and neither of us took the lead on it.
    • Lesson: Know when to consider a project finished, and have a single person with ownership of the company.

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