Sometimes, when trying to get your own business 'off the ground' it can really help to hear about other folks who have managed to make a success of theirs... those who have 'been there, done that' so to speak.
Such a person is Vincent Dignan, founder of wildly successful platform for young writers 'Planet Ivy' which he conceived in his bedroom and grew into one of the world's foremost platforms of its kind. Not content with just one success story, Vincent has now embarked on a new entrepreneurial adventure with his latest startup 'Magnific' an innovative content writing service that connects readers, writers and curators for a more personalised reading experience. It's a great new way to navigate the higglety-pigglety world of online content and it seems we are not the only ones who think so, as Vincent and Magnific have just been selected to take part in the next TechStars London accelerator programme.
We decided to have a quick chat with Vincent about online business content, TechStars London and his startup journey in the hope of spreading a little bit of inspiration!
So Vincent, obviously there is immense competition for spaces in the TechStarts London accelerator, for people who may be considering applying for something similar, can you tell us how you guys managed to stand out from the crowd?
You'd have to ask them yourself! But for me, maybe traction? We had achieved over six million page views on Screen Robot and Planet Ivy in the first quarter of this year. It's one thing to say "we plan to..." but it's another to have already done it. We had/have big ambitions and the potential for scale was/is huge- they only invest in companies working in huge markets. This traction meant we had "done it before" so to speak, we were amongst good company, people who had sold their companies in the past, or had major positions at companies like Skype, Google, and Uber.
We know that monetising content is a notoriously difficult thing to do. Could you briefly tell us how Magnific will achieve this?
Content is a growing area. Every brand knows they need it, not least because of Google's favouring of original content, and the power of social media to drive your potential users or customers to your site/message. The change during Techstars was moving away from monetising the content "on" our sites (i.e. through banner ads) and more towards creating shareable content as a service off-platform. That automatically opens up a lot of new opportunities. So now we have over 750 writers who we've worked with to craft great content, who can now help other businesses through engaging content - it's an exciting opportunity,
You were a major force behind another very successful content based business ‘Planet Ivy'. Tell us how you got so passionate about working in this area?
I had a dream that I should do it so I woke up and did it. Around that time I used to read my ex's blog on Tumblr (she sometimes used to mention me and it made me feel good) and I realised that as good a writer as she was, Tumblr would never pay her and/or she would never get recognised as a writer (I don't know if she's still writing now, I hope she is) so I created Planet Ivy in order to give young writers a platform to write on, to get seen, and to help them improve. More recently we started paying writers, but in all honesty the platform and the mentorship is the real motivator for our writers, for the most part- then many of them go on to write for places like The Telegraph, The Independent, or full-time writing jobs elsewhere.
Many people reading this will be trying to maintain a business blog alongside running the other aspects of their startup- can you give us a tip to help people manage this?
It's not about you. It's not about your business. People only care about what you can offer them. Tailor your content around their needs- write copy you'd actually want to read, rather than press releases about your own company.
Can you tell us about a place (a little nook or cranny) in London that you reckon everyone should know about?
I have not heard the words "nook and "cranny" in a long time. This has been the hardest question of all as I rarely leave Shoreditch or go to places. I spend most of my time working from home. Olive in Hoxton Street is five minutes from me and does very good pizza, so let's go for that one.
Thanks for the chat Vincent and best of luck with Magnific!
By Eoin O'Hara - follow him on Twitter