Join the Google News Initiative Startups Boot Camp in Australia and New Zealand
Be part of the first Google News Initiative (GNI) Startups Boot Camp in AUNZ! Designed specially to support aspiring Australian and New Zealander news entrepreneurs.
Applications for 2022 are now closed. Read about this year’s cohort here →
The Support You Need
No fees, no tuition, no income sharing. No financial barriers to your success. Just the hands-on support you need to become independent and stay independent.
Until now, very few affordable startup programs have focused exclusively on the practical steps of launching an independent journalism venture. That’s why Fishburners have partnered up with Google to launch the GNI Startups Boot Camp in Australia and New Zealand, so that aspiring news entrepreneurs can prove there is a need and audience for their idea, build their news product and set their business on the path to sustainability.
Up to 20 solo founders or teams of aspiring entrepreneurs will receive:
9-Week fully remote
program access specifically designed for media startups.
24 / 7 Start up support via The Fishburners Founders Hub.
Weekly 1-1 professional coaching + quarterly coaching upon graduation.
8 Live video seminars curated alongside the Google News Experts.
Network of fellow news and information entrepreneurs to support you through your journey.
Application and Program Timeline 2022
Q&A session 12:30-1:30 PM AEST
Boot Camp commences
12 - 16
Boot Camp finishes
When you join the Boot Camp, you benefit from the collective experience and wisdom of founders before you who can assist you through your challenges today and help you set yourself up for tomorrow. And, with modest financial support to compensate you for your time, there’s little standing in the way of you and your dream. So, if you’re ready to start a new project, we’re here to help.
Register your interest for the next intake
Meet The Coaches
Watch the Q&A Session
If your application is accepted — and you give it 110% — it will cost you nothing but your time. That’s right: all of the boot camp costs are covered.
No fees, no tuition, no income sharing arrangement. No financial barriers to your success. Just the support you need to become independent, and stay independent.
You will also receive modest financial support to compensate for the time spent developing your project. This includes the weekly seminars and one-on-one coaching and time spent working outside the program hours.
Plus, you’ll also get a year’s access to Fishburners’ virtual platform, The Founders Hub (valued at $647 AUD) to help you develop you continue developing your idea and stay connected to the community.
Classes will begin the week of October 10 and end the week of December 5, 2022.
- Efforts focused on delivering local news and civic information
- Reporting-based businesses focused on encouraging civic engagement
- Already-launched businesses focused on single-subject reporting that is not geographically bound
- Either not-yet-launched or less than one year since launch
We are platform agnostic. That means you could plan to deliver your product through a podcast, newsletter, event series, app, messaging, videos, a website or anything else.
Also, we will not be accepting participants from businesses that want to serve journalists/journalism as their primary customers or legacy publications that are trying to make a transition to digital. We are also not looking for applications that are primarily aggregates of existing content.
You should consider this boot camp if:
- You have identified a community’s need for better news, information and/or engagement and think you can deliver a solution
- You’re less than a year into running your news business and want to re-evaluate some of your core hypotheses and make adjustments to improve your financial sustainability
- You’re committed to public-service reporting working with and alongside the communities you serve
- You’re committed to making your business idea financially sustainable as quickly as possible
- You’re able to commit at least eight hours a week for eight weeks to turn your business idea into reality (ideally, you can commit more time)
- We are especially interested in entrepreneurs who want to serve communities that don’t often see themselves or their stories reflected in their local news.
You should be based in, and plan to launch in Australia or New Zealand.
You should be comfortable with written and spoken English, as all sessions and assignments will be in English only for this session (We hope we can deliver the boot camp in other languages in the near future.)
You can join as an individual or as a team. If you already have a team, up to two of you can participate in the boot camp sessions and coaching. (Please note: If you do have a team, a good goal is to have one person for each of these core expertise areas: editorial, business and/or marketing, product and/or technology)
You have some journalism experience or a business background and passion for the community you want to serve.
We’ll be selecting 20 teams of one or two founders (your team can be bigger, but you’ll have to pick two of you to attend).
The boot camp is entirely online. It’s intentionally designed to be an online experience because we want you to stay in your community and to do the work in that context.
There will be a 90-minute live webinar each week. At the end of the webinar, we’ll have a conversation as a group about the tasks you’ll undertake that week. Once all of the participants have accepted their spots, we can choose the day/time that works best for everyone. The sessions will also be recorded for later viewing. At least once a week, teams will have a one-on-one coaching session with one of the boot camp coaches. Teams can select this time each week based on their schedules.
Some weeks there will be extra “peer review” sessions, where teams present on their progress and we unpack the learnings, and some weeks there will be additional (and optional) “live case studies” with guest speakers
In between our live video sessions, we’ll communicate using a chat platform called Slack.
We like to answer that by saying “at least part-time hours; ideally a full-time commitment.” We expect participants to plan for at least eight hours a week, preferably a lot more.
If you’ve already launched a project that’s less than 12 months in and aren’t sure what to do next, the boot camp should complement what you’re already doing.
If you’re in an existing full-time position and thinking about the boot camp to grow your side hustle into your main hustle, that’s great! You’ll want to think about how to fit the minimum number of hours into your schedule. (And, if the weekly webinar happens during your paying job working hours, you’ll need to make time to watch the recorded version.)
If you’re participating alongside your co-founder, you should both be on the calls together. At least one of you is responsible for attending, or watching the re-cap. You can also switch off weeks if that’s easier.
Typically each week will consist of 90 minutes of seminar time, two or more hours of assignments, and two or more hours of readings. The more time you put into the assignments, the more you will typically get out of the boot camp experience.
We’re excited for you to apply at any stage where you believe the boot camp would help you achieve your objectives. That said, we describe the boot camp as a pre- pre- accelerator program. Practically, that means this is for very early-stage entrepreneurs (or those with entrepreneurial aspirations) and early stage ideas.
You could simply have a strong sense of a problem you’d like to solve in your community, or you could have already taken steps to realize that idea. Both are a great fit.
If you simply have a passion for starting your own journalism or information business and are still searching for the right idea, that’s also a great fit. You’ll want to take advantage of the pre-boot camp reading and exercises to help you define an idea to bring into the rest of the boot camp.
Yes and no. Pulling from interviews done with successful journalism entrepreneurs, we will discuss the common ways that new businesses are financed in the early stages. And we’ll point you to resources that can help you explore all of the options in more detail on your own time.
However, there will be no formal curriculum specifically on how to obtain grants, small business loans, or investments. We made this decision because it is far more likely that a new business will fail due to a lack of customers rather than a lack of financing. So, for the boot camp, we will focus on finding customers first.
Your weekly assignments will result in documents that answer questions similar to what is often found in a business plan. But these will be in a format that we believe is far more useful in the early stages of a business. For example, simplified revenue projections, a growth roadmap, and various forms of “pitch” documents that help you clearly and concisely explain the idea to others.
As a participant in the program, you’ll also gain access to Fishburners’ virtual platform, The Founders Hub, where you can find hundreds of startup resources that can help you uncover important business lessons, such as how to develop and innovate your business plan using your learnings from the boot camp.
We will discuss the options in the context of a decision that you’ll eventually need to make. And I’ll point you toward ample resources for when the time comes to make that decision.
However, in the earliest stages of a new venture, your focus should be on building relationships with your community — readers, listeners, watchers, advertisers, sponsors, etc. — and moving those relationships toward something that supports you financially.
The question of business structure can easily become a rabbit hole that can consume a lot of mental energy and limit your options far too early in the development of your project or business. If you’ve already made the decision, great! If not, that’s obviously fine too.
As a participant in the program, you’ll also gain a year’s access to Fishburners’ virtual platform, The Founders Hub, where you can find hundreds of startup resources that can help you uncover important business lessons, such as how to correctly decide the right structure for your business.
- The ability to describe your business idea concisely and compellingly
- A realistic revenue forecast for the next six, 12, 24, and 36 months
- A set of three-month objectives and a plan for how to achieve them
- A deeper understanding of your community’s needs, and how your project will meet those needs
- Confidence from having run small experiments to prove your idea and that have provided you with valuable, objective data on your business’s viability
- Knowledge of which technology and tools are the best fit for your undertaking
- A “continuous innovation” mindset that will help to keep your project relevant for years to come
- And, most optimistically, some customers!
Applications are now open, and you can apply here by September 12, 2021. When applying, you will be asked to provide basic information about your personal and professional backstory, as well as the business idea that you hope to develop further in the boot camp.
- Attend or watch the weekly lesson each week (if you have a team member, you may switch off and all sessions are recorded)
- Complete at least four out of eight one-on-one coaching sessions
- Submit a weekly status update and short survey
- Demonstrate effort at completing the weekly assignments
- Submit a final video pitch for your project
We understand that some participants must continue to work a full-time job while participating in this boot camp and that some participants will be working at existing news organizations. We will give participants the option of being included in the announcement about who is accepted into the program –– it will not be required to be identified as a boot camp participant.
Additionally, we will follow “Chatham House Rule” during the boot camp –– meaning whatever is discussed in the boot camp, stays in the boot camp. Participants who do not abide by these rules will be dismissed from the program.
No, it doesn’t. You should apply to whatever opportunities are best suited for you at this moment –– applying to multiple ones will not help or hurt your chances of being selected.
Absolutely not. The most important thing we are looking for is that you’ve identified a customer/audience need and you have a very strong hypothesis on how to meet that need.
We hope so! Make sure to sign up for the Fishburners monthly newsletter, The Burner, so that you can stay updated on future opportunities to work with us. We also encourage you to sign up to our virtual platform, The Founders Hub, to help you find the people and resources you need to get your business started and ready for the next one.
Once you receive your magic link at the beginning of your sign up process, you’ll be able to make changes to your application right up until the 12th of September when the applications close.
Yes. Absolutely. If you have expertise in a specific area like sales, marketing, finance or accounting, law relating to new business, or presentation coaching, please reach out to [email protected].
We’ll be hosting an information session on the 30th of August, 2022 from 12:30 – 1:30 AEST. This will be a recorded session, so you’ll be able to watch it back if you’re unable to attend. You can sign up for the session here.
At this session, we’ll answer general questions about the program and application, and we’ll have a separate breakout room to help workshop your application–– bring specific questions and we’ll offer our feedback and advice.
If your question has not been covered in this session, please don’t hesitate to contact the team at [email protected]
If you’ve asked yourself these questions recently:
How do I assess market demand?
How do I figure out pricing, whether it’s subscription, membership, or donations?
How do I make a sales call to a sponsor, advertiser, or potential philanthropic funder?
How do I create a compelling marketing pitch?
How do I sell myself as the face of the product, organization, or company?
… then the program might be a good fit.
Beyond those questions, your news startup must aspire to:
Create original reporting (either local or thematic, and of a civic nature)
Be independent in its ownership and operations
Demonstrate a desire and an effort to practice accuracy, transparency and fairness
Become a financially viable operation that compensates its owners and staff