The Three Stages of a News Start-Up.

I’ve been spending my week down in St. Petersburg, Fla., at the Poynter Institute. The theme of the week: entrepreneurial journalism. And after seeing case study after case study about successful journalism start-ups, I’m starting to see three common areas of overlap during the initial start-up process.

Those areas are:

Conceptualization –> Validation –> Realization

To break it down a bit further: the ends are the easy parts. Conceptualization: Man gets idea for business. Realization: Man makes business legitimate.

It’s the middle part — validation — that’s tricky. That’s the part where I’m hearing stories about what Seth Godin called ‘the Dip.’ It’s the part where a start-up is still trying to decide if their business is feasible, and it’s where they’re going through a massive period of self-doubt about the business’ chances for success.

But there are a few sources of validation that can convince a start-up to keep pushing forward. The three that seem to be on repeater:

Validation (or approval) from:
-The audience
-Investors (foundations/angels/VCs/donors)
-Other media (buzz about company/product)

It seems to be — and this is obviously a ‘duh!’ moment, but — that the companies that make it from concept –> reality get enough validation to convince them that it’s worth pushing through the Dip. It’s one thing to believe in your own idea. It’s another to hear from outsiders that the idea is one worth believing in.

Because without that validation, it’s almost impossible for a start-up to go from concept to reality.

(photo at top from South Park’s Underwear Gnomes episode.)