Silicon Hills News’ first print magazine was a huge success at South by Southwest Interactive in March. The magazine did so well that Silicon Hills News is planning to do another one on the biotechnology/medical industry in San Antonio and Austin. The new edition is scheduled to be published in June. So if you want to advertise or support that venture, please email LauraLorek@gmail.com.
With a total of 89 backers and $9,300 pledged, Silicon Hills News has surpassed its Kickstarter goal by almost $2,000. Its first paper product will feature about 32 pages of content, with profiles of technology companies in the Austin/San Antonio area, regional resources, and advertisements. The magazine will be distributed at the South by Southwest festival in Austin. (Check out their SXSW event – a startup competition).
Congratulations, Silicon Hills News!
Having overshot its Kickstarter funding goal, SiliconHillsNews.com will launch a print magazine this spring to showcase Texas startups at the SXSW Interactive conference in Austin.
SiliconHillsNews, which launched in 2011 with the help of a J-Lab Women Media Entrepreneur grant, had raised $7,909 as of Feb. 3 – $564 more than its initial goal and it still had 12 days to go in its crowdfunding campaign.
I just got accepted into the Avinde Accelerator Program for Female Entrepreneurs at Texas State University and the preeminent accelerator program for women entrepreneurs in Austin and Central Texas. I think this will be a huge next step for us in growing Silicon Hills News.
The accelerator program starts in September and runs through February. It’s a series of workshops and meetings with experts in sales, fundraising, business plans, social media, marketing, advertising and more. The program, in its eighth class, will also teach us how to pitch to investors and plug us into a network of investors. It’s focused on helping early-stage ventures raise capital to take the business to the next level.
I also just hired another freelance reporter, Clarisa Ramirez, a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism and a McCormick Fellow, to report out of Austin.
Silicon Hills News has reached its fundraising goal for the year and has brought on board a part-time reporter and two freelancers to help with its reporting and sponsorship activities. A weekly video show will launch soon.
“We’re in the process of closing sponsorships with Newtek, ZippyKid, a local hosting company for Wordpress blogs, a local gym, a law firm, a bank and a major computer company – CDW,” said founder Laura Lorek. “Once we have those agreements signed and checks collected, we will have exceeded our goal and raised close to $110,000.” More deals are in the works.
In addition, the site – which covers the tech communities in Austin and, now, San Antonio – has formed alliances with Innotech San Antonio and Innotech Austin, two major technology shows. “We’re helping to raise sponsorships for the show and we get a cut of each new sponsorship,” Lorek said.
Silicon Hills News is also sponsoring the Beta Summit at Innotech San Antonio in April, and it will select the start-up to participate and then moderating the panel. Lorek is also moderating a panel on Central Texas Technology Media at SXSW’s start-up village in March.
The site is sponsoring a day-long blogging conference, BlogItSa!, in January and has applied to be the organizer of Start-up Grind San Antonio. “We should find out on that shortly,” Lorek said. “That would entail holding a monthly meeting with a technology founder from San Antonio or Austin.”
In addition to hiring University of Texas grad Andrew Moore as a part-time reporter, Lorek also has added two new freelancers, one in San Antonio and one in Austin.
The next few weeks will see the launch of a weekly Silicon Hills News show. Geekdom, one of the site’s sponsors, has just established a new video studio. “We’re going to interview technology movers and shakers there as well recap the local technology news of the week,” Lorek said.
Silicon Hills News recently celebrated its one-year anniversary and the site continues to gain momentum with the central Texas technology community.
Readership in Austin and San Antonio topped 10,000 monthly visitors in June and continues to grow. The goal is to hit 50,000 monthly visits in the next six months.
On the business side, the site recently landed a big sponsorship deal from Geekdom, a co-working and collaborative space in downtown San Antonio, which recently branched out to San Francisco. Geekdom also plans to set up sites in South America and Asia in the coming months. That sponsorship will allow Silicon Hills News to hire a reporter in San Antonio.
Also I’m working on finalizing additional sponsorships and ads from a variety of companies including a law firm, a gym, a bank, a realtor, and a high-tech company. I’m still working on landing a telecommunications and computer sponsor too. All in all, it looks like Silicon Hills News will meet its goal of $100,000 in sponsors by the end of the year. Still working to meet the $50,000 goal in ads. I’m 20 percent there. That may take a bit longer. But the good news is that it’s definitely an attainable goal.
The good news is I’ve sold a few thousand dollars worth of ads for SiliconHillsNews.com, primarily from people approaching me by e-mail. That’s encouraging because soon I plan a big ad campaign to meet the site’s goal of $50,000 in advertising for 2012.
Bootstrapping is a slow process, but it does work. Bootstrapping makes a business look so much better to potential angel investors who can see that SiliconHillsNews.com already has customers, revenue and a highly targeted high-tech regional readership. Also, I’m actively working on landing more big-name sponsors, particularly a telecommunications company and a computer company. I’ll have more on that in coming months.
Traffic continues to grow every month on the site. February will be our best month ever.
Earlier, I had been accepted into Startup Texas, which helps me focus on the business. They’ve got great online seminars and discounts on all kinds of programs like Google Adwords – which I plan to take advantage of this year. I don’t know much about Google Adwords, but the goal is to employ more advertising to spread the word about Silicon Hills News.
Silicon Hills News continues to grow organically through word-of-mouth advertising. The site has landed its first corporate sponsor: Rackspace Hosting.
Silicon Hills News is the only regional tech website run by a woman.
The goal is to land five more major sponsors this year for a total in $100,000 in funding to expand operations. I would like to sell another $50,000 worth of ads this year too.
December was the best month ever for traffic to the site. The traffic continues to nearly double every month. And social media efforts through Twitter and Facebook definitely help drive the hits. Today, Silicon Hills News has 200 Twitter followers and 142 Facebook fans.
I’ve had some exciting times at SiliconHillsNews.com these past few months.
Traffic to the site has doubled from September to October and then doubled again in November and the month isn’t over yet.
So far, it’s all been word-of-mouth advertising and marketing. The Facebook fan site launched last month and has 111 fans to date. If you get a chance, please go and “like” it.
This month, SiliconHillsNews.com started a Flickr account to post event photos. That generates traffic along with its YouTube channel.
SiliconHillsNews.com launched on Sept. 1 and I’ve posted to the site by covering various conferences in Austin, including Startup Week Austin, The Capital Factor’s Demo Day and, most recently, the Clean Energy Venture Summit. I’ve also covered events like BlogathonATX and Dell World.
My coverage plan is to do profiles of individual entrepreneurs in the Silicon Hills area, and I would like to start doing a weekly profile soon.
Meanwhile, I’ve struggled to find a WordPress template that works easily and effectively. I bought two: the Editorial Theme from Woo Themes and the Deadline theme for Theme Forest. But I soon discovered that I needed additional training in WordPress to understand how to use these themes as content management systems. After struggling for hours to try to make the various themes work, I eventually just gave up and I’m currently using “Themify” a free WordPress theme. I’ve decided the technology can take a back end to the content right now.