Workshops & Intensives

A Startup Weekend experience for journalists

Journalism Entrepreneurship Workshops & Intensives

Several times a year, I run business model focused workshops to grow the next generation of journalism entrepreneurs.

Drawing inspiration from the Lean Startup movement, I produce workshops that teach effective ideation and business model validation through customer interviews and small experiments.

In a nutshell: participants arrive with only passion and leave with a well-tested business model, a pitch deck, and a roadmap of where to go next.

These workshops typically take one of two forms:

  • Weekend-long, open to a broad range of participants
  • Three days, delivered to just one organiztaion

The weekend-long format is focused on growing a community around the “future of local news & information” conversation, by reaching far outside the usual suspects and including people from a broad range of backrounds. I am always looking for great partner organizations and venues to help bring this style of event to new regions, cities, and towns.

For journalism organizations that are grappling with the challenges of building a strong culture of innovation, I offer a slighly-longer format that is tailored to internal staff and teams. These workshops are laser focused on helping teams to bring new product ideas to life quicly.


“One of the most diverse and exciting events on the future of local journalism that I’ve ever seen.” –Burt Herman, Director of Innovation, Lenfest Institute

“I’ve never been in a session that addressed journalism and business equally.” –Bobbi Booker, Technology & Culture Columnist, Philadelphia Tribune

“If workshops like this had taken place 20 years ago, we wouldn’t be where we are today.” –Merrill Brown, Founder, The News Project

“My only feedback is that I wish I had committed to staying on for both days!” –Sam Goertler, Lead Product Manager, theSkimm

In a workshop, you’ll learn how to:
  • Describe your business idea in a way that uncovers hidden assumptions
  • Design small experiments that will test those assumptions
  • Prototype your idea quickly
  • Conduct customer interviews, surveys, and polls
  • Create a compelling story about your idea’s place in the market
  • Pitch your idea clearly and passionately

Does that sound exciting?

Inquire about a workshop »

Typical schedule
  • Day one: Lightning talks, idea pitching, voting, and team formation
  • Day two: Full day of business model validation, coaching & experiments
  • Day three: Coaching, pitch deck preparation, and pitch practice. Team presentations and feedback from judges
What’s unique
  • Each of the workshops I produce include expert coaching from other experienced journalism entrepreneurs. Typically the ratio of participants to coaches is five-to-one, ensuring that there’s always a coach ready to talk through your ideas
  • The workshop curriculum is also designed to provide just the right amount of encouragement and mentoring needed for your to start the process of talking to real customers about their information needs
  • Unlike other workshops, participants spend most of the weekend actively working on project teams (versus passively listening to speakers). This approach keeps energy high, and learnings memorable
Get a feel for the workshop format

Watch a three-minute event recap here:

And read about the outcomes on Medium.

Your personal coach

Everything that the Journalism Entrepreneurship Training Company offers is delivered personally and passionately by me, Phillip Smith. I am a certified Lean Stack coach. I’ve enjoyed a 20-year career as a technology and business entrepreneur. I’ve mentored more than a dozen reporter-led startups to help them build a path to sustainability. Much of what I know I learned as the CTO of an award-winning digital newsroom.

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