Photo by Justyn Warner on Unsplash

You ask, I answer: Everything you wanted to know about the Journalism Entrepreneurship Boot Camp

A few weeks ago, after announcing the Journalism Entrepreneurship Boot Camp, I started receiving emails from people in the journalism community. Reporters and editors in established newsrooms, freelancers, people at startups, product managers, students, and many others.

I expected to hear stories of doom and gloom, lamenting the state of journalism, the failing economics of media, and the role that entrepreneurs have often played in making the problems worse. Let’s be honest — journalists can be a skeptical bunch.

But the surprising thing was that I didn’t hear any of that. Each email brimmed with optimism — so much optimism that it was like a hurricane-force wind in the sails of this whole idea. Whether from inspiration, or desperation, people from all over the world are ready to put in the work to build viable businesses around journalism.

In fact, when I shared the curriculum that I’ve been developing for the last several years with one of my trusted advisors, he had this to say about it:

“I wish I was so strategic and thoughtful when I was blindly casting about trying to make things work on a startup. It’s like an entire MBA compressed into the essentials.”

The boot camp is not magic; however, the recipe is fairly simple: Go from idea to customers in just 10 weeks. Online classes. One-on-one mentoring. Peer network.

This is not an entire “entrepreneurial journalism” degree. We won’t cover data visualization or news interactives. It is not a Massively Open Online Course (MooC) with thousands of participants (a typical cohort will be around 10 people). And it is probably not for people who are seeking venture capital investment to build the next groundbreaking media-technology platform.

This boot camp is fine-tuned for people who are ready to create a viable business that undertakes reporting, or produces information. It will give you the hands-on experience that you didn’t get in school.

And let’s be clear on this point: I am calling it a boot camp for a reason. It will be a lot of work.

I believe that you have what it takes to build a successful business around your passion. If you believe that too, check out the Frequently Asked Questions below:


Frequently Asked Questions

What are the dates of the boot camp?
The limited-enrolment pilot is scheduled to start on October 8th, 2018. It will conclude mid-December. (Note: This was initially scheduled to start September 17th, but was subsequently rescheduled.)

The full program is scheduled to launch Spring 2019.

How do I participate in the program?
Applications for the pilot program will open by mid August. When applying, you will be asked to provide basic information about your personal and professional backstory, as well as the business idea that you hope to develop further in the boot camp. I’ll get back to everyone quickly, ideally within two weeks.

Is the boot camp for individuals or teams?
Both individuals and small teams are welcome to apply.

If you’re thinking of building a team for this bootcamp (a great idea!), a good goal is to have one person for each of these core expertise areas: editorial, business and/or marketing, product and/or technology.

How much will the boot camp cost?
If you are accepted into the pilot, and you attend every session — you give it 110% — it will cost you nothing but your time.

I’ll charge you an “accountability fee” up front, but if you take this as seriously as I am committing to, you’ll get that fee back upon completion of the boot camp.

The accountability fee will be $699 USD and there will be a checklist of boot camp requirements so we’re on the same page about what’s expected.

Where will the boot camp be held?
There has been some fun and amusing speculation on this question! Several folks have asked if the boot camp is happening in Berlin, Germany, because the announcement post references an event that I produced in Berlin some years ago.

Let me clear things up: The boot camp is entirely online.

It’s intentionally designed to be an online experience because I want you to stay in your community and to do the work in that context.

What is the format of the boot camp?
There will be a live webinar on Mondays (the very first webinar might be on a Tuesday). At the end of the webinar, we’ll have a conversation as a group about the tasks that you will all be undertaking that week. Monday’s session will last two hours and will be in a timezone most convenient to the participants. It will also be recorded for later viewing.

At least once a week, each participant will have a one-on-one coaching session.

Some weeks there will be extra “peer review” sessions, where the participants present on their progress and we unpack the learnings.

In between our live video sessions, we’ll communicate using a chat channel that’s comfortable for everyone, e.g., Slack, Facebook group, LinkedIn group, etc.

How many hours per week will I need to invest?
I like to answer that by saying “at least part-time hours; ideally a full-time commitment.” I expect participants to plan for at least 20 hours a week, preferably more.

If you already have a new business underway, the boot camp will be a complement to what you’re already doing.

If you’re in an existing full-time position and thinking about the boot camp to grow your side hustle into your main hustle, that’s great! You’ll want to think about how to fit the minimum number of hours into your schedule. (And, if the weekly webinar happens during hours you’re at the office, you’ll need to make time to watch the recorded version.)

Will there be an opportunity to meet the other people in the boot camp in person?
Yes, there is an in-person event being planned for November 16–18 in Philadelphia. Stay tuned for details.

Is the boot camp open to international participants?
Yes, absolutely.

However, to be upfront with you, it’s likely that I’ll limit the pilot to participants from Canada and the United States. That would enable us to minimize the time-zone coordination challenges and maximize my personal experience, which has been mostly in Canada and the U.S.

How far along should my project be before applying to the boot camp?
I’m excited for you to apply at any stage where you believe the boot camp would help you achieve your objectives.

That said, I describe the boot camp as a pre- pre- accelerator program. Practically, that means this is for very early-stage entrepreneurs (or those with entrepreneurial aspirations) and early stage ideas.

You could simply have a strong sense of a problem you’d like to solve in the world, or you could have already taken steps to realize that idea. Both are a great fit.

If you simply have passion for starting your own journalism or information business and are still searching for the right idea, that’s also a great fit. You’ll want to take advantage of the pre-week curriculum to help you define an idea to bring into the rest of the boot camp.

Does the pilot include information on financing my project?
Yes and no. Pulling from interviews I’ve done with successful journalism entrepreneurs, we will discuss the common ways that new businesses are financed in the early stages. And I’ll point you to resources that can help you explore all of the options in more detail on your own time. However, there will be no formal curriculum on financing (at least not in the pilot).

The reason for this decision is a whole post on its own. Stay tuned.

Does the pilot include information on how to write a business plan?
Yes and no. You will be developing documents that answer questions similar to what is often found in a business plan. But these will be in a format that I believe is far more useful in the early stages of a business.

Are you looking for coaches and mentors for the boot camp?
Yes. Absolutely. If you have expertise in a specific area like sales, marketing, finance or accounting, law relating to new business, or presentation coaching, I’d be really happy to hear from you.

Do you have a version of this boot camp for established newsrooms?
Yes. There is a “Journalism Intrapreneurship Boot Camp” curriculum in development. It’s a similar experience, but compressed into a week and focused on the needs of established news organizations that want to accelerate internal product innovation.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the above, please get in touch.

I don’t see my question here. What can I do?
You can leave a response below, hit me up on Twitter, or get in touch with me in one of the usual ways.

Onward,

Phillip.
Journalism Entrepreneurship Boot Camp, Founder
Stanford JSK Fellow, 2017–18

P.S. I’ve published a post on “Why journalism entrepreneurship is needed,” that tries to answer the questions Why this? Why now? And Why should I care?