MediaHack

HT Media has launched an accelerator program called MediaHack in partnership with media investment firm North Base Media (NBM), specifically for early-stage startups in the media entertainment and content segment. For the next six weeks startups in this space will be able to apply for the first batch of this program.

HT Media’s head of digital business Amit Garg told MediaNama that “at the end of these six weeks, we’ll take about two to three weeks to shortlist about 25-30 ideas/startups, whom we’ll be calling for a face-to-face interactions, and then finally we will select about 8-12 startups for the program.” He however added that “the final number will depend on the number of applications we receive, the quality of the ideas and also our bandwidth.” He also mentioned that “these selected startups will then be mentored and provided with all possible support over the next few months at the end of which we will organize a Demo Day, where we’ll invites investors, other media companies to have a look at the idea.”

HT Media & North Base Media will initially be investing $50,000 to $100,000 in the selected startups for a minority stake.

To be eligible for the program, the startups need to be:
– Independent of any large corporate ownership.
– Should be in the media content production, aggregation, distribution space, or media advertising or technology startups supporting the media business.
– Should have a ready product prototype, plus a clear idea about how to build the business.
– Also, startups that have at least one member with sound technical background will have an advantage.

Roles HT Media & North Base Media will be playing

Speaking to MediaNama, HT Media CEO Rajiv Verma said, “I see HT Media playing a role from the early evaluation of the idea to helping the entrepreneur refine the idea to then mentoring it as well as providing whatever resources and limited capital that might be required in the early stages, and then finally connecting the idea to the marketplace. And entrepreneur may not necessarily have the connections to the marketplace so we’ll help them develop a go-to-market strategy.” He also added that given that HT Media is well versed with the Indian media consumption pattern and produces content and media on a everyday basis, this wealth of knowledge will be made available to the startups.

North Base Media co-founder Marcus Brauchli told MediaNama that they’ll be playing more of the mentoring, advising, counseling, bringing expertise role. Brauchli is the former editor of The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. He believes that India will soon experience immense change in its media market, and that through MediaHack North Base Media is specifically looking for startups or rather ideas about how news can be reconceived, including delivery of news, or how advertising can better connect with consumers. He said, “So, what our role in MediaHack is going to be is we’ll spend time with the statups. I and my partners at North Base Media will make ourselves available in person and on the phone, bringing our expertise on media. Saša Vučinić (partner at North Base Media and co-founder of the Media Development Loan Fund) has probably more experience helping get independent media companies off the ground in countries around the world that just about anybody. We also have Stuart Karle, former chief operating officer at Reuters. So, between us we will bring our experience and our connections with some of the big media groups like Reuters, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, several digital media companies in the US, and we’ll try to make people we know available to this batch of entrepreneurs and help them to ground themselves in the best practices.”

Subscription models in Indian digital media segment

Given that revenue generation is one of the primary obstacles that digital media publications face in India, we asked Verma if he sees subscription models working in this market: “As of today, it’s mostly free model or to a certain extent freemium model which has been tried. But as the market matures, I see no reason why the market will get more and more ready for willingness of subscribers to pay. It’ll move towards subscription models, but for that content has to get more matured and more distinct. Right now content doesn’t really differentiate itself very well, but with time, with maturity, and as more and more people get on the web, and as media consumption on devices increases subscription models will emerge. Right now I don’t think audiences who are consuming media on devices are willing to pay. But it’ll move towards subscription models in 5-10 years time.”