IA: Tell us about Startup Weekend and how the idea for PressBaby was born. You’d never met Jody before, right?
After all the participants voted, VidLibs was narrowed down to one of the top 12 ideas for teams to form around. I loved the idea and joined his team. That first night, it was just the two of us and we were not even sure we would pursue it over the weekend since our team was so small. But as the weekend went on and other teams disbanded, our team grew and we ended up winning second place in the competition.
We learned about the ARK Challenge over the weekend and Jody applied for VidLibs with me as his partner. The same week that we learned we had been accepted into the program, Jody received news from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that they were interested in working with him on another business idea he had been pitching: Newspaper Next.
We talked to the ARK Challenge and decided to form a company called PressBaby that would have both the VidLibs product and the Newspaper Next product in its portfolio. We used our time at the ARK Challenge to focus on Newspaper Next since we had an immediate customer request and need for the product.
IA: Were you surprised by your selection to the
Emily: We learned that weekend that the ARK Challenge was extending its application deadline specifically for projects that came out of Little Rock Startup Weekend. Jody applied on our behalf that next week, but I honestly didn’t think that we would be accepted. Though I didn’t know much about the ARK Challenge at the time, it seemed like it was for more established concepts.
We were surprised, for several reasons. (1) We applied late in the game and didn’t have the product fully thought out quite yet. (2) Neither Jody nor I are developers and we didn’t have a technology partner. (3) We were notified of our acceptance the week before the program started. Surprise! We talked about it and knew that it was too great an opportunity to pass up, even given the obstacles we were facing going in.
IA: What was it like relocating for three months from 501 to 479?
Emily: The bottom line on relocating: it was both hard and rewarding. I actually split my time between
IA: In what ways could central Arkansas emulate NWA in terms of growing its startup environment?
Emily: The two areas of the state are so different.
I don’t think central
Things that central
IA: For startups, what unique advantages does
Emily: Being in the central part of the state, I believe that
IA: So, what do you think of the startup experience so far?
Emily: PressBaby is my first startup, and I don’t think it will be my last. The process has been trying, but the experience rewarding. I think that I learned a lot that I want to apply to another startup in the future.
IA: Is there anything like PressBaby out there now?
Emily: Many publishers are trying to figure out how to turn their written content into multi-media content based on the trends that we are seeing with increases in online video viewing and audio content consumption. But they haven’t figured out the perfect solution to this yet. Some are providing multimedia content as supplementary to the written content.
A few are providing audio versions of their written content. There are a few apps available that provide audio versions of select written articles from major publishers. But we are not seeing anyone partner directly with publishers to provide full-length quality journalism as both audio and video options for consumers with interact with and publishers to monetize. That is where PressBaby is unique.
IA: Where else could you go with this idea?
Emily: At our core, PressBaby is about digital media solutions for content. We believe that we can take this to newspapers, magazines and bloggers. Our vision is have every article on the web “playable” as audio or video content. I dream of the day with there is a PressPlay button powered by PressBaby on websites, next to the Twitter button and Facebook button that users already expect to find next to everything on the web.
The evolution of the concept has many legs. We can provide easy ways for consumers to share portions of the content in any of the formats with their friends. We can encourage crowdsourcing of articles recorded by every day people to share with their friends. We can send written content to televisions as recorded content. How much space do you have for this article? I could go on and on with the ideas we have for taking PressBaby and its products into the future.
IA: What’s the best thing about starting up, and of course, what’s the toughest?
Emily: For me, the best thing about starting up is learning something new everyday. That also happens to be the toughest thing! As I learned, more ideas would bubble to the surface about how to make the product better. But as I learned, I saw mistakes we had already made and wished that I had known it earlier. I can’t even count how many times I said, “and here is something else I wish I had known on June 3rd!”