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CONTENTCUBE
143 interviews
Niche Entrant
A smart way to
personalize news texts
Helping journalists find product-
market fit
Kaveh
PhD in Econ
Janel
B.S. Computer
Science
Michael
Creative Dir. at SF
Business Times
Titus
Investigative
journalist
Mi...
News organizations haven’t been doing so well.
Advertising & subscription revenue
for U.S. newspapers (in billions)
60
50
...
Advertising & subscription revenue
for U.S. newspapers (in billions)
We wanted to do something about this.
CS 206: Computa...
Original MVP screenshots/gif here
News organizations
(e.g., NYT, WaPo)
Software
development
Reader-side platform
User data
Writer-side platform
Help news
or...
News organizations
(e.g., McClatchy,
NYT, WaPo)
UX design, learning
archetype engagement
User data collection
Writer-side ...
A Hero’s Journey.
Journalist’s
A Hero’s Journey.
Journalist’s
0 interviews
Experiment:
Do readers enjoy personalized news texts?
Experiment:
Do readers enjoy personalized news texts?
Experiment:
Do readers enjoy personalized news texts?
Experiment:
Do readers enjoy personalized news texts?
Experiment:
Do readers enjoy personalized news texts? Nope.
“That detail doesn’t
belong in this
article.”
“All this one
ha...
The First Pivot.
36
interviews
Did we
personalize the
wrong way?
Is personalized
text the wrong
solution?
Did we
personalize the
wrong way?
Is personalized
text the wrong
solution?
Did we
personalize the
wrong way?
Is personalized
text the wrong
solution?
Let’s understand one
customer segment really
we...
Who would be our early evangelists?
People who are...
1. Hungry for news
1. Dissatisfied with mainstream news
1. Making th...
Who would be our early evangelists?
People who are...
1. Hungry for news
1. Dissatisfied with mainstream news
1. Making th...
Piecing together a picture of our customers
The Innovators: Coin Founders, Early Investors
“I’ve figured out my news
sources already.”
The Early Adopters: Experienced Investors
“I get my crypto news from
word of mouth. I have people
I trust.”
Early Majority: The Finance & Crypto Novice
“It’s so hard to find
credible sources.”
We listened to their pain points.
(41 interviews)
But something felt wrong.
DO YOU BELIEVE IN YOUR
PRODUCT ?
Do any of you even
own a coin?!
Do you believe in
your product?
Lesson Learned:
It’s cheesy, but passion really does matter.
A Passionate Pivot.
94
interviews
We went back to our vision, but with a twist.
This was from our Week 1 Presentation.
Then we took our MVP to news agencies, who said...
Irene Chang
Product Manager,
Text & Multimedia
It’s not a super huge need.
Maybe it’ll be more useful to
publishers?
Then ...
A solution for news agencies is a small market.
$600 millionSubscriptions cost
$10k to $1-2 million
We estimated our annua...
With nothing to lose, we asked news executives
for thoughts on all our previous MVP iterations.
VS
MVP 1:
Personalize news...
MVP 1:
Personalize news texts
…and they jumped out of their seats
for our very first iteration.
…and they jumped out of their seats
for our very first iteration.
Wait, what?
MVP 1:
Personalize news texts
Localization is really valuable, but at
the community level.
Daniel Schaub
Corporate Director of
Audience Development
We w...
Journalists & editors felt the same way.
Andre Taylor
Desk Editor
“If a story gets clicks or blows up, we
want to know how...
Key Insight:
There’s a gap between the way journalists write
and the way publishers wish they would write.
To journalists ...
Back to our Origins,
But Wiser this time
116
interviews
A Hunch
The original MVP tweaked sentences.
What really moves people is stories.
We need to inform writers about readers e...
We changed how we pictured our readers
Demographic data → Archetypes, Occupations, Interests
(Consider the reader as a who...
Experiment: Do readers segmented by archetype enjoy
personalized news narratives?
Experiment: Do readers segmented by archetype enjoy
personalized news narratives?
Experiment: Do readers segmented by archetype enjoy
personalized news narratives?
Experiment: Do readers segmented by archetype enjoy
personalized news narratives? YES! “It helped me imagine the
actual pr...
Lesson Learned:
Be suspicious of your assumptions,
but don’t abandon your vision too quickly either.
143 interviews
The Grand Finale.
Our idea:
We help journalists find
product-market fit for their stories.
Our idea:
We help journalists find
product-market fit for their stories.
How?
A writing tool that informs the writer
about...
Advertising & subscription revenue
for U.S. newspapers (in billions)
We wanted to do something about this.
60
50
40
30
20
...
Advertising & subscription revenue
for U.S. newspapers (in billions)
We will do something about this.
60
50
40
30
20
10
Three of us will be continuing!
Janel
B.S. Computer
Science
Michael
Creative Dir. at SF
Business Times
Michelle
B.S. Compu...
The End.
CONTENTCUBE
143 interviews
Niche
Helping journalists find product-market fit
Q & A
Appendix
Now our customers are news organizations.
$28 billionannual revenue (ads + subscription)
Pains: Subscriber model in a digi...
Lesson 1: Good startups run like efficient code
while (product_market_fit==0) {
# define experiment;
# define threshold fo...
Lesson 2: Like journalists, startups need key sources
Michelle Park
Interview Request from Stanford University Team
To: Sc...
We pieced together every step of the wire editing workflow.
Tone: Excitement about new product
Structure: Surface tech-related information to the top
Anecdote: Incorporate quotes fro...
Lesson 3: Passion is necessary (but not sufficient)
Crypto News
(MVP 2)
Social News
Personalized News Texts
(MVP 1)
KD
Content
Cube
Vox
NYT
ProPublica
RobbReader
NYT
WP
nevalabshq
Pyze.com
SalesForce
vhcl.co
Facebook
Twitter
Google News
Alex...
Kaveh Danesh Jihyeon Janel Lee Michael Grant Titus Plattner Michelle Park
MG
Econ PhD,
former Duke
Trustee, writer for
Oba...
Small market:
The three big wire agencies:
$600M per year for text in the US
(Subscriptions based on feeds + total readers...
Interesting market:
Revenue of US newspapers ($28B in 2017)
If we even can address 3% of this market by driving more
subsc...
TAM:
Revenue of US newspapers in 2017:
Ads: $18B
Subscriptions: $10B
Total: $28B
SAM:
Bigger US newspapers revenue in 2017...
Experiment: Do readers segmented by
Experiment: Do readers segmented by
Experiment: Do readers segmented by
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Experiment: Do readers segmented by archetype enjoy
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