Takeaways from the past 5 months

As I reflect on the past five months here at the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism, many things stand out. The excellent teaching faculty, the challenging course material, inspiring weekly site visits to media and tech companies, and the insightful guest speakers. The following are takeaways from a few of the guests that shared their experiences as entrepreneurs, business leaders and innovators.

Sarah Adler, Founder, Spoon University

The takeaway: Define my hypothesis about the world and how my project will play a valuable role in that world. Share this view and work with people that see that value.

How it influenced my project: My hypothesis is that motion graphics can help explain the world, engage audiences, create memorable and shareable experiences, and make the invisible become visible.

Richard Wolffe, CMO/CDO, Global Citizen; Former VP and Executive Editor of MSNBC.com

The takeaway: Pay attention to what works and do more of that. It’s easier to channel existing behaviors than create new ones.

How it influenced my project: Rather than launch as a motion graphic design service, I’ll be offering products and selling them in places where people are already buying visual content.

Rahul Chopra, CEO; Mandy Jenkins, Head of News, Storyful

The takeaway: Ruthless prioritization. Focus on what you can do well and be effective. Listen to you customers.

How it influenced my project: I’m leveraging my motion graphic design skills to launch with a focussed set of products.

Steven Katz, Publisher, Mother Jones

The takeaway: Know what you do well. Focus on that.

Veken Gueyikian, Publisher, Hyperallegic; Founder, Nectar Ads

The takeaway: Understand your client goals and offer solutions.

Rafat Ali, Founder, Skift

The takeaway: There is no savior. It is all you.

Angela Moon, Chief Correspondent / Social Media Reporting Team Leader, Thomson Reuters

The takeaway: Sometimes graphics can tell the story better.

How it influenced my project: Just hearing someone in the industry validate something so core to my project was a great boost of confidence. Thanks, Angela!

Pavia Rosati, Founder/CEO, Fathom; Former Executive Editor, DailyCandy

The takeaway: She founded a company based on asking “What has the internet not done for me?”

Kevin Kearney, Founder/CEO, Hard Candy Shell

The takeaway: Design should be about solving a problem, not about if whether anyone likes something. It’s never about taste. “We don’t care what you like. We don’t care what we like. It’s about what we think will work.”

Lisa Chow, Gimlet Media, host of StartUp podcast

The takeaway: Working on audio, many times they use analogies to explain a complicated topic.

How it influenced my project: I often use the term “visual metaphors” to describe how I think motion graphics can best be used for communication.

Graham Powis, Managing Director and Head of Investment Banking at BTIG, LLC; and Gregg Shoenberg, Founder, The Financial Revolutionist

The takeaway: Everything will take longer than you think. Your costs will be higher than you think. You won’t think of everything. Time is finite and our content is competing for the same time that other content is competing for.

Professor R.A. Farrokhnia, Columbia Business School

The takeaway: Are there ways to repurpose the content we create and distribute it in different formats and places?

Jeff Mignon, CEO and Co-Founder, RevSquare

The takeaway: Don’t do what we dream about doing. Do what our audience wants. Keep pivoting. It’s not bad to change.

Alicia Syrett, Founder/CEO, Pantegrion Capital; Angel Investor, Board of NY Angels

The takeaway: Marketing is hugely important and entrepreneurs tend to not focus enough on it.