Feature on: Start Up Newry Times @newrytimes
Paul Malone and Emma Taylor of Newry Times.
Two founders (Paul Malone and Emma Taylor) and several contributors.
Our inspiration for starting the Newry Times came from a number of different factors. Firstly, I have worked in local newspapers for several years and recently lost my job because the newspaper could no longer afford to pay me.
I knew Newry was crying out for a free, online newspaper with no subscription fees or hidden charges. Emma had a chance meeting with a Derry-based journalist, who told her about his own news site.
We’d all graduated with good degrees and we all have talent in different areas, so we decided to make a website and try to engage the local community again.
The Newry Times team won the SEED ‘Young Entrepreneurs of the Year’ business award in June 2012. The prestigious award was presented to the Newry Times team by Olympic Gold Medalist Dame Mary Peters and the new Newry Lord Mayor John McArdle congratulated the team.
The SEED consortium of Councils (Armagh, Banbridge, Craigavon and Newry & Mourne) launched the 2012 Business Awards to help reward and recognise the most innovative and successful businesses across the four Council areas.
Newry Times scooped the SEED Regional Young Entrepreneur, an award which recognises young entrepreneurs who have achieved success and have shown great potential for continued success.
What’s different about Newry Times?
Our unique selling point is definitely the fact that all our content is free to the public and updated daily. Our competitors release weekly print newspapers, so if a big story breaks after they go to print, local people would have to wait another seven days to find out exactly what happened.
Additionally, the other local newspapers have their own websites but they charge local people a subscription fee to access the news content. It is updated sporadically (in some cases weeks can go by without updates) and we knew this wasn’t what the people in the area wanted.
We also created Newry’s first-ever Smartphone app, so wherever they are, the local community can find out what is happening.
Emma and Paul’s career background:
Paul’s background is in journalism and I have a BSc Honours Degree in Politics and Criminology. Co-founder Emma Taylor now works on the sales and advertising aspect of the Newry Times, in line with her previous experience.
Prior to launch, the three of us were unemployed graduates (Emma had a 20-hour per week retail job) but with our complementary skills, we knew we’d make a perfect team.
Speaking personally, I have always wanted to run my own business. I’ve always felt uncomfortable with the idea that I would work 40 hours a week for a set wage and somebody else would be making decisions which could impact on my own financial security.
Also, I think the current economic climate has shown how easy it is to lose your career, so I wanted to be in control of my own destiny. The tedious life of filling in application forms for jobs that I didn’t even want (and never heard back from) made my desire to run my own business even more urgent!
How did you raise the money?
Incredibly, I actually paid for Newry Times through my Jobseekers’ Allowance. We have no real overheads because we all work from home at the moment, so our only start-up costs were buying the website, business cards and internet packages.
We are very lucky in that respect, because I am fully aware how hard it must be for new businesses nowadays to secure any funding or loans.
Marketing Newry Times:
We have not spent a penny on PR or marketing. Instead, we have told our story to relevant websites. We also recently appeared on a BBC Spotlight documentary about unemployed graduates.
This has proved highly successful, and not only does it promote Newry Times, we’ve found it also provides inspiration to other young graduates who are in a similar situation.
As the website is free to access, our main source of income is advertising revenue. There are different prices for the different areas of the website, with the homepage being premium. However our prices start from as little as £3.60 per day – which simply cannot be matched by any other media outlet in the local area.
We found that within a few days of launch, people were coming to our website in their thousands. It is growing incredibly fast and by June 2012 we were on 1 million website hits and 200,000 unique visitors, which is absolutely amazing.
We’re way ahead of our business plan forecasts already and we expect to grow rapidly in the coming months and years. Where we are at right now has exceeded our wildest dreams!
The response to Newry Times by the local community has been incredibly humbling. People get in touch with us every day from the city and further afield, telling us how much they love the website and that they’re recommending it to friends and family. That, to us, is priceless.