How We Started an Independent Media Company to Cover the Emerging AI Industry

Starting a media company is easier said than done. Although we had some experience in building digital products and marketing, neither of us had created a media company from scratch. Here's how we did it.

How We Started an Independent Media Company to Cover the Emerging AI Industry
Maginative co-founders, (left) Richard Banfield and Chris McKay (right)

Eight months ago, my friend Richard Banfield and I started Maginative. It was an experiment to create a media company. Our goal was to create an independent and unbiased platform where people could learn about the emerging AI industry and how it was impacting businesses around the world. As veteran product designers and entrepreneurs we were super curious about AI and we figured a lot of other people would be too. We were right.

Here's the story of how it unfolded...

Starting a media company is easier said than done. Although we had some experience in building digital products and marketing, neither of us had created a media company from scratch. Plus, we both had other full-time work obligations. Richard was advising several companies and I was running a consulting firm. As the winter was thawing, I invited Richard to come down to my home in Florida and talk it out in the sunshine. We adopted a Content-Product Fit approach to this project. That's just a fancy way of saying we thought it would be a good idea to create valuable content and a community, before we started working on a product. Once the community platform was validated, we could investigate what the audience wanted and then drop in a product they desired.

While it was clear there were more questions than answers, the thing that we agreed on was that we had a proven way to find those answers: run lots of experiments. The best thing we could do to find out was to mess around and see what stuck. So, with a discovery mindset and a few beers to boost our confidence we launched the Maginative.com website. 

Once the very basic site was up, we immediately started by publishing daily original articles. Most of the posts were our takes of what was happening in the news. We didn't have a clear idea of who our audience would be or where they would find us, so we tried different tactics. Each article was first published on our site, then distributed on social platforms. Some social platforms like LinkedIn and Reddit performed better than others. The visitors started trickling in, and within weeks we were seeing the numbers climb up to the thousands. At some point in the summer we also decided to create a weekly newsletter. Basically a wrap up of that week's news.

Today, Maginative hosts almost 700 articles and publishes approximately 8-10 new articles daily. Each day, we go through hundreds of press releases, research papers, interviews and articles and identify the ones we think are most important and impactful. We also talk with technologists, executives, founders and creators exploring AI on a weekly basis. This has helped us to not just stay abreast of the latest technology but to gain a deep understanding of how it is being practically applied in the industry. To date, there are close to a thousand newsletter subscribers from 100 countries who receive our weekly roundup of the week's news. Somewhat surprisingly, we have also attracted several consulting clients who are interested in our expertise in the AI industry.

Could Maginative be a consulting or training company too? This is the joy of experiments, you learn what your audience wants without having to read their minds. While training wasn’t our original intention, we’ve recently completed a week-long training program with one of Korea’s largest automotive brands. Similarly, LinkedIn Learning approached us to teach a new AI course for business leaders. Production on the course was completed last week at their studios in California, and the video-based course will be available in early 2024. The experiment continues. 

So, how do two people create a media business with part time effort? With help from artificial intelligence of course. With our knowledge of prompting techniques, and some trial and error, we were able to create a prompting program that significantly improved our ability to augment the editorial process and provide suggestions for headings. These programs speed up the deliberation process and provide quick feedback on article concepts. We'll be sharing these prompts with Maginative subscribers soon, so sign up if you want access to our prompt library.

None of this would've been possible without our audience showing up to read and share the articles. This experiment is nothing without the people who value our efforts. We also can't make this work without the precious support of our family and friends. Countless conversations with industry leaders and product experts have helped us bridge the gaps in our knowledge. We are the sum of these discussions and insights.

As we stay curious and digest all the feedback we're receiving, we'll make improvements to the Maginative experience. We’re cautiously optimistic and even a little proud of what we have accomplished in just eight months. It looks like our hypothesis that an independent AI media source would be popular was correct. Our experiments will continue to give us clues as to our audience needs and will guide our decisions on future products or services connected to this media platform. We believe that AI is undeniably linked to all of our futures, and we are committed to helping people understand it. If you want daily AI related news and insights we invite you to come on this journey with us. 

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