MADE was a weekend full of pitching, networking and discussions

By Melissa Allison-Forbes

As I write this I feel energised, hopeful and optimistic. I have been inspired and I can’t wait to see what’s next to come.

This will happen to you when you spend 50 hours eating, drinking and listening to 30 plus entrepreneurs. Not only were they get-up and go people, they were all passionate about the same thing as me – turning their journalism startup into a viable business.

I was one of the lucky participants selected to attend the Media And Digital Enterprise (MADE) UK Startup Weekend held at the University of Central Lancashire last weekend (15-17 June). The event intended to equip entrepreneurs with the commercial savvy needed to turn ideas for news enterprises into long-lasting businesses.

I applied to attend because I wanted to learn how to turn my online magazine into a viable business. I’m a journalist without a business background so I wanted to know how to go about this. There were many at MADE who also needed the same question answering.

Last weekend was filled with pitching, networking and discussing our ideas, gaining feedback from industry professionals with years of media experience and business knowledge. It was good to be in the company of like-minded people and to interact with those who shared the same goal as me.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday was jam packed and I left overloaded with information and feeling tired from the long days. But most of all I left feeling excited. Excited about what I had learnt and how I was going to implement some of the ideas.

For this I thank Francois Nel and his team for putting the weekend together and for selecting me to be a participant. They believed in all of us because we had good ideas, were all different and passionate about journalism – qualities the Journalism Diversity Fund also looks for.

What I leant from my weekend in Preston, and throughout my time at the NCTJ working on the fund, is that there are many enthusiastic people trying to get involved in the industry, but many need support in the form of funding, mentoring and networking opportunities.

Many people who want to be successful in journalism need help getting there and with the help of organisations such as the Journalism Diversity Fund and events such as MADE people can achieve their dreams.