One thing I have always been transparent about with our readers is Shoe String Media’s growth. Those of you who have been avid consumers of our content since early 2012 would know that, with the maturation of our business as well as the Australian and New Zealand startup ecosystem, we have undergone many changes from an editorial perspective and as a platform.
The past 12 months have been particularly transformative for Shoe String Media. The team has grown; we’ve partnered with companies like Pinstripe Media to leverage our offering to advertisers; and we have entered a high-growth period from a commercial perspective. Below I break down what we are doing as a business and how that feeds into our overall goal of being the number one platform for news and data in the Australian and New Zealand startup ecosystem.
The growth of our monthly unique readership has been one of the core metrics of Startup Daily since the publication launched. Our monthly readership has grown 100% since July last year and we expect to accelerate that growth this financial year.
Aside from editorial, which is critical to our traffic numbers, our team has put a lot of time and effort into building a platform that makes it easy to navigate content in a way that is both seamless and engaging. Our mobile platform has been a critical part of this build due to the increased number of new readers accessing our content through social media like Facebook and Twitter on their smart phones.
At the moment, a majority of our traffic comes from Australia, with the east coast (Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane) being our strongest performing cities. We expect to see continued organic growth from this part of Australia but will also be placing greater emphasis on covering the Southern and Western Australian ecosystems. A national approach is important and there will a number of activities and initiatives we will be running internally to ensure that our editorial team get their feet on the ground across our state and territory startup communities so they really get the grassroots experience of what is happening. This will naturally feed into these communities becoming more engaged in our platform.
In addition to Australia, we have identified New Zealand as a market that Startup Daily should be more engaged with. Our publication has been covering New Zealand based tech companies for a while now, however after spending time in the country and immersing myself in the local ecosystem this week, it is clear to me there is a lot of activity happening there, and being based in Australia does not allow us to be fully aware of that activity. Startup Daily is currently in the process of finding a talented individual based out of Wellington to join the editorial team and cover the New Zealand startup ecosystem for us.
This will be a major market for us in terms of traffic growth and give our readers a more accurate view of what is happening in both Australia and New Zealand, as well as identify cross-country opportunities for startups and technology businesses.
As a team we have been very deliberate in the way we have put together our content strategy for the site. Startup Daily’s editor, Tasnuva Bindi puts a lot of time and effort into making sure that we deliver a premium product to our audience each day; based on our audience feedback, a majority of the time we get things right, but there’s always room for improvement. We know that we need to achieve similar traffic numbers and page views to be commercially competitive with the likes of Private Media and Fairfax who have publications that play in the same space as us. As a small team we are well aware that if we tried to compete based on quantity of content we would never win against these media companies that are far more resourced than us. Therefore, we focus on the quality of content and choose to approach every story we tell from a unique angle. Rather than being the first to publish something, we try to focus on being the site that publishes the more analytical or deeper version of the story.
This is an approach that works for us and it has drawn in an audience that is more attracted to long-form, thought-provoking journalism and commentary. This, mixed with some key news and analysis pieces, has become our publication’s ‘sweet-spot’ and has made us a product that can easily sit beside the likes of StartupSmart, BRW, AFR and Anthill as complementary rather than a regurgitation of the sites that already own the news cycle.
In particular, I am proud of content like the podcast we did on Racism in the Startup Scene, the in-depth article we created on Queensland’s political support for startups; and our article that raised a question mark around deal terms Australian VC’s were offering startups. These are examples of the type of content we are working towards producing for our audience on a daily basis as we work towards, from a commercial perspective, a stage where we’re able to afford to dedicate editorial resources to work on them.
Like any high-growth technology platform, our product is always evolving and we expect that our content will continue to do the same, especially as we begin to cover other markets, recruit new writers with different experiences and writing styles, and as we continue to strive towards reaching the goal of having a ‘perfect front page’ every single day.
In the last 12 months, we have placed an emphasis on our ‘data’. We see this as one of the most important aspects of our platform moving forward.
Startup Daily uses data in two ways. First, we collect and measure data about our users and this helps to form our commercial strategy when speaking to potential partners and advertisers.
In addition to our analytics, we also conduct regular readership surveys, which help us work with partners to deliver messages to our users in a way that feels native and non-invasive to the platform. It also ensures that we don’t waste our clients’ money, working only with brands that we have identified via our data are a perfect match with our readership. Using data in this way enables Startup Daily to build long-term brand partnerships that enable us to pay our staff to produce all that great content. It also means that we can avoid constructing a paywall around our content.
The second way that we have been using data has been pretty under the radar, however will launch publicly on the site late August or early September. Because we think of ourselves as a platform first and foremost, it has been important to us to create something proprietary and of value to our organisation. That feature will be our Startup Daily Insights section.
Our organisation is tracking over 3,000 high-growth technology startups across Australia and New Zealand, everything from who is running them to who is investing in them, how fast they are growing and many other data points. We will be making this information available to the entire ecosystem for free, helping to make it easier for startup founders to understand their industry verticals better, give investors a clearer picture of what is happening on the ground and to make it easier for media to access information about the ecosystem in the hope that the space begins to be covered in a more realistic fashion.
Up until now we have purposely avoided events at Startup Daily. This has partly been due to the fact that we needed to develop some street cred in the startup space first; and it also has allowed us to focus on one thing (the website) and build an online community that we love and who love us.
This year in November (as you might have seen from the ads on the site) we will be holding our first ever event / conference. This is not only a new stream of revenue for our business, but a way to bring our online audience offline and interact with them. From our data, we have come to realise that although our readership in the startup space is strong (around 51%), the remaining audience (around 49%) actually work for SMEs or the corporate space.
This has guided our event strategy, which is all about bridging the gap between startups and corporates. Specifically, our events will focus on introducing startup methodologies and techniques to an audience of primarily corporate folks (although startups are welcome). The price point for these types of themed events, which we intend to run across multiple locations in Australia and New Zealand annually, is targeted accordingly. While this may seem like we are excluding startups, the fact is we have developed a premium schedule that is specifically targeted towards corporates and companies with a corporate infrastructure.
Off the back of these events, however, we will be holding smaller fireside events throughout the year with the same level of speaker talent for the startup community and will be inviting startup founders to come along to our post-conference corporate / startup mixers to discover potential opportunities.
Another reason we have chosen to focus on the corporate end of town as part of our strategy is so we don’t compete or cannibalise existing startup focused conferences that are already in place and working well for the ecosystem. Sydstart, Southstart, Above All Human, The Sunrise and Slush are perfect of examples of conferences focused on producing content for startup founders that are working well. Rather than compete with them, I would rather our organisation support them and partner with them to bring the best talent into Australia.
For corporates reading this and are interested in coming along to our November Data Day event and want to purchase a number of tickets, please contact us to see if you qualify for a wholesale discount.
It is easy to lose yourself in the business sometimes and that is why I find writing pieces like this so enjoyable. It is a great opportunity for me to step back and see how much Startup Daily has matured as a product and how much every single individual has grown within our current team of six.
But most of all, the thing that me and the team feel most blessed about is the fact that you guys, our readers continue to engage with us, continue to share your stories with us and continue to be our best form of marketing and most reliable engine for growth.
Thank you for your support.