Startup of the Week – TypeWhale
Startups and small businesses often do not realize the power of PR – it can translate into increased credibility, potential customers and even provide an easy way to attract quality employees. However, PR is also something that gets pushed to the bottom of the priority list, either because it’s too time consuming or costs too much money to hire an agency.
Enter TypeWhale, an exclusive community made up of both talented and trusted journalists and credible, expert sources, founded by Kylie Lakevold and Joseph Pineda. In addition to the obvious benefits of working directly with journalists, TypeWhale is fueled by rewards as well as user reviews to keep the community honest and fun.
We recently caught up with Kylie to learn more.
How did you come up with the idea for your startup?
While talking amongst ourselves about the challenges our clients were having with PR, we wondered, why isn’t there a community of journalists and reporters and credible, vetted sources?
One client in particular, had a great opportunity to work with a journalist doing a national story in field she was an expert in. The journalist was very interested in her input and this could have been a huge opportunity for her business, but in the end, she missed out on being included in the story because of the reporter’s tight deadline and the inefficient back and forth they had to do.
Hundreds of reporters, journalists, authors, etc. are spending precious time and energy trying to find expert sources for their articles. On the flip side, there are hundreds of qualified, smart, hard-working “experts” everywhere.
There is a reason you see the same “experts” on TV or quoted in articles. They have found a way to become available to the press and because of that they enjoy the benefits of the PR. We want to provide this same opportunity to other qualified individuals while providing a valuable asset and more diverse pool of sources to the media.
We are starting by working with Universities and Professors, so we can best identify a wide-variety of quality sources, but our plan to expand this to other industries and fields.
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
When an industry or a group of people are used to doing things a certain way, it always takes some convincing.
It’s always easier for people to say “No, thank you” than to try something new. But we expected as much and love a good challenge.
Are there any key individuals outside of your organization that have been of great help to your startup?
Our entire network has been an incredible asset throughout this journey. As you know, when you’re bootstrapping, it takes calling in a lot of favors and bartering where you can.
We also have a strong circle of trusted advisors in the PR, media, and educational fields that have been instrumental in shaping our strategy.
What’s new with your startup that we can share?
Our sources are from the academic community and our journalists have previously been published in newspapers and online. We plan to grow the TypeWhale community to 1,000 journalists plus aim to add 5 additional University partners before the end of the year.
The feedback we’ve been getting has been amazing and shows we are on the right path.
Personally, do you think it is more difficult to raise capital or find the right talent?
Raising capital. We have been fortunate in having a great network that has led us to the right talent when we’ve needed it. Being both co-founders and “do-ers” (designers, developers and marketers) has also allowed us to work very efficiently without needing a large team.
What has contributed to your success to this point?
Don’t wait till it’s perfect before you ship. It will never be perfect. Keep creating and reiterating as you go. “You don’t know, what you don’t know” and the only real way to discover that is by trusting your gut and launching your product.
What made you choose to go down the path of entrepreneurship?
We’ve always been entrepreneurs at heart. Even while working for large corporations, we blazed our own path. It made sense to take a risk and go out on our own and do what we were really passionate about in the PR and marketing space.
What are your thoughts on Calgary’s startup community?
It’s incredibly exciting to be a part of the Calgary startup ecosphere. We are humbled by the massive support we have received. The A100, C100, Startup Calgary and AcceleratorYYC have been instrumental in mentoring up and coming startups in this area. If you have a great idea and you truly believe in it, the Calgary startup community is extremely supportive. The resources are there and the networking possibilities are endless.
What’s your ask right now? What do you and your startup need?
The power of connecting people that can work together, share knowledge and resources is what we’re most passionate about and believe can make a true impact in the world.
We are always interested in hearing from and connecting with like-minded individuals. We think there are some great partnership opportunities for our community and if your readers believe in the work we are doing, please feel free to contact us.
If you are working on something that could potentially change the world, we’d like to hear about it. Send us a tweet at @startupcalgary or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Startup Spotlight is covered by Boast Capital, a Calgary-based Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) consulting firm that helps companies secure and maximize government funding to advance innovation. For more information visit BoastCapital.com or @BoastCapital.