For a little more than a year I’ve been an occassional contributor to TechCrunch Europe and there are several things I’ve learned. I am miles away from being a professional journalist, largely due to the fact that I’ve never went to journalism school and never learned or studied Journalism’s most valuable and most important aspect: Research.
Michael Arrington, Om Malik and others are masters of research and inherently the reason why they’ve become successful. Researching a market is crucial to any Tech entrepreneur thinking of starting a company, however there is an array of other elements why I think Tech journalists should not only write about startups, but start them. Starting a company, raising money for your endavour or pitching a VC always requires knowledge in certain topics. I argue that these topics are often fulfilled by Tech Journos more than by others.
When writing (and more importantly doing research) about a certain Startup a Journalist inevitably has to look at the market. Not only for similar players and competitors, but also its size and current status. There are market trends and those ought be understood for an article of quality.
Whenever you want to start a company or think about writing one, one has to deeply look at your most feared or more beloved players in your segment. Knowing your competitors is essential from the early days on. Caring about your competition and watching them closely how they fail or succeed is what let’s you do better. Writing about Startups requires knoweledge of their enemies and friends.
Tech Journalists per se have a strong network. They are being approached by PR firms, Startups and sometimes even VCs (or the VCs PR agencies). People want the Journalist to write about them which gives the editor on the one hand power (Do I write about them or not) and on the other hand there is already a mutual connection between two people, say an Entrepreneur and the Journalist, that is beneficial for both parties. Having a vast network is essentiell when it comes to selling a product, building PR buzz or a exiting your company. Journalists do have this network.
4. Raising capital
VCs or Angels more likely mingle with Tech Journalists than Entrepreneurs (I know, that’s a bold statement there). They see the relationship between the objective, unbiased and profesional writer and themselves easier and with more delight than with Entrepreneurs who constantly WANT something from them. An editor in general doesn’t want anything from the Investor, except for writing about them which makes the VC happy. But Entrepreneurs? They usually pitch, ask for money or ask for more money and advice. That automatically gives the Tech journalist the better and more friendly connection to the VC and for the reasons above it eases the money raising process.
5. What type of business, in which genre, at what time and with which people
When you always have to keep up with the hottest startups, the deadpool, the Super Angels, crazy valuations, PR Pitches and Startup advice presentations you somehow, over the years, are more likely to answer the questions above better than any successful seriel Entrepreneur because the Journalist will always be on the intersection of the people who drive the Tech business: Entrepreneurs – Companies – Investors. These three are solely, and even more importantly, neutrally, connected with the Tech journalist. The editor must not only know one genre (Gaming) but usually has to cover a broad range of topics. More experienced Journalists often focus on certain genres, which gives them even more power and understanding in the respective market.
When looking at what successful Tech Entrepreneurs have, then I see a lot of similarities between successful Tech Journalists.