Last wedenesday, February 18, 2014, I atteneded the 3rd Filipino Technopreneurship Summit and I got to hear Maria Ressa, the CEO of Rappler give a talk about technopreneurship.
Focusing on using crowd sourced data, real time reporting and real time responses, Rappler.com is one of the up and coming news sites in the Philippines right now, and no doubt, CEO and co-founder Maria Ressa has played a big role in its success.
Being highly interested in the intersection of journalism, media, technology and entrepreneurship, I made sure to take down the different insights and lessons Maria Ressa shared about technopreneurship during her talk, and also during my short interview and conversation with her afterwards.
It today’s workplace and society, the generation gap is very evident. Throughout her talk, Maria emphasized how a lot of times, we might even know more than our bosses when it comes to technology. We’re the ones who have been exposed to all these technology and social networking sites like Facebook our entire life.
We’re digital natives while our bosses are simply digital immigrants. And we must make use of this to our advantage. Maybe all the hours we’ve spent on Facebook, Twitter, and all those other websites aren’t so useless after all.
For instance, Maria gave a powerful example on how during Typhoon Yolanda, social networks played a big role in updating people on the situation of the victims and also informing them of ways to help and give back. Through the power of social networks, more people became aware of the situation and hence, a lot more help was delivered.
Journalism, Media and Reporting — Past to Present
The way reporting was done before is completely different from the way it is done today. Maria talked about her experience as a CNN reporter in New York and how she had to take notes using her notebook then run to a pay phone to dictate her notes to her editor. Moreover, during that time, there was no fax yet or computers or even cellphones, all they had were typewriters and beepers.
She even remembers the first time she was given a cellphone by CNN and it was the size of a suitcase. Yet today, everything is so quick and easy. Everything is at the tip of our fingers. Before you could go on to two week trips and be unreachable, yet today, you can do live updates anywhere and everywhere.
Courage to Create Something
Yes, we all want to know why and how Maria Ressa came up with the idea to start a media company like Rappler. We all want to know why she left her pretty good position in CNN and later on ABS CBN to start her own media company from scratch, and of course, how she was able to do it.
When I asked her how hard it was starting out, she told me, “It was hard.” Admittedly, she told me that the entrepreneurial mindset is a whole different mindset. She had to learn how to shift her frame of mind from that of a journalist to that of an entrepreneur.
But because she wanted to create something that would change the world, she persevered, and a few months later, Rappler.com was born and the rest is history.
She saw the opportunity to embrace technology, and true enough, Rappler has been experimenting and using innovative ways of reporting. One example she gave was the mood reader and mood navigator which asks the reader how he/she felt after reading the article and then, compares it with how other readers felt to come up with the “mood of the day.”
She also talked about how they’re trying to use twitter maps in order to categorize and map tweets. This technology was especially helpful during Typhoon Yolanda where they launched the “Track Yolanda” program to map the victims of the typhoon.
With the mindset of Maria Ressa, Rappler.com and journalism as a whole will only continue to evolve. Yet let us not forget that she once just started out just like us, a person with a dream to create something that would make a difference in the world.
Steps to starting something that will change the world (from Maria Ressa):
1. Find inspiration through observation
2. Use your imagination
3. Have the courage to turn your imagination into reality
4. Believe that you can do it
5. Form your team; you can’t do it alone
6. CHANGE THE WORLD!