This week, Matter’s second round of start-ups took over New York City for a demo day at WNYC’s Greene Space. All of the companies spent the past 100 days in a work space in San Francisco, working with mentors and each other, to bring their ideas to fruition.
All the start-ups are focused on innovating in the media industry and a few specifically are targeting digital publishing. Contextly was the ‘oddball’ of the group, according to co-founder Ryan Singel, because they already had a bit of a foothold in the market. Forget Outbrain and recommended content recommendation faux pas (ever found a right wing article linked to on a liberal leaning news site? It happens.), Contextly’s algorithms help you find better content, micro-manage it as much as possible, and focuses on building reader engagement and community on your site. Says Singel:
It was a great experience figuring out who was using us and finding us and what their needs were. A lot of people that were finding us were smaller publishers and places that were doing content marketing…That translated into some changes of our tools and the experience for customers —- we worked with an engineer and we spent a lot of time changing our product for those smaller sites that would be largely self serve.
Other founders from this round agree that Matter helped them focus. Co-founder Martha Rotter of Woopie, a digital first publishing tool, says that one of the good things was that the process “was all about focus and focus and focus and narrow and narrow and narrow. We kind of found our target market instead of being something that could be for everyone.” Woopie is now in the process of signing people up to work with them in private beta. Have a small, digital first publication that specializes in longform or multimedia? You should probably take a peek. According to Rotter and her partner Stewart Curry:
We’re looking for small, new or newer publications, or older pubs, that… understand the value of having their publication available to readers everywhere — that care about audiences on the Kindle and different platforms and want to make sure that they can reach those audiences.
Another of the companies looking to make digital publishing just a little smarter is Beatroot, which provides accurate analytics for writers. You can track not only the reach, but the conversation surrounding it and the impact it had across the web. Finnish co-founder Kobra Kosinken says that he and his partner Ville Sundberg were meeting with companies like Muckrack and others this week, looking for solid partners to collaborate with. For them, the focus on networking and the leverage of the Matter affiliation has helped them move forward, and they plan on setting up shop both back home and stateside.