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Seeking journalists who want to start something new

Megan Raposa felt torn.She enjoyed the routine of her reporting beat at the local paper. But she wanted to build something new — a news startup that would better serve her neighbors in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Raposa was ready to become a journalism founder. She just wasn’t sure how to start.Megan applied and was…

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Megan Raposa felt torn.

She enjoyed the routine of her reporting beat at the local paper. But she wanted to build something new — a news startup that would better serve her neighbors in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Raposa was ready to become a journalism founder. She just wasn’t sure how to start.

Megan applied and was accepted to the Google News Initiative’s Startups Boot Camp, which provided her with the training, support and funding she needed to launch her email-focused digital startup, Sioux Falls Simplified. Five months later, Sioux Falls Simplified has continually grown its audience, earned local advertising revenue and even converted new members who support its mission.

Applications are officially open for the 2021 GNI Startups Boot Camp. We’re looking for our next group of aspiring journalism entrepreneurs to mentor every step of the way as they turn their ideas into real businesses.

During Megan’s eight-week stint in the 2020 GNI Boot Camp, my team and I supported her journey as a founder through a real-world practical curriculum, relevant case studies, weekly one-on-one coaching, and support from peers working toward similar goals. 

“[Through the Bootcamp,] I learned that there is an appetite for another news option in my community, and I can be the person to provide that,” Megan says. “I don’t have to sit and ride out the sinking ship of the local newspaper, watching desks empty year after year.”

Megan isn’t the only success story among the 24 teams in the program, of course. Bria Felicien’s newsletter, The Black Sportswomen, has grown the newsletter’s subscriber base to a size that results in a steady stream of people choosing to support the project financially. Annelise Pierce’s project, Shasta Scout, has broken important local stories and recently incorporated as a non-profit newsroom. Luke Baumgarten launched RANGE to cover local issues and has already grown past 1,000 email newsletter subscribers, 100 of which are paying. And Camille Padilla Dalmau’s publication, 9 Millones, recently raised a five-figure sum in less than 48 hours from readers. The list goes on.

If you’re a journalist who’s ready to start a new project, we’re here to help. Your launch team includes experienced coaches, the entire LION Publishers staff and LION News Entrepreneurs community, as well as the team at the Google News Initiative. When you join the Bootcamp, you benefit from the collective experience and wisdom of founders who have very likely faced the challenges you’re about to face yourself. You’ll also benefit from a curriculum based on the GNI Startups Playbook, published in partnership with some of the leading practitioners and thinkers in the entrepreneurial news space, as well as an official LION Publishers membership.

The first step, however, is to apply.

Applications are now open to U.S. residents for the fall 2021 Boot Camp. The U.S. program will run from September 7 to November 5, 2021 (with a one week break) and aims to accept 24 projects. The application window opens today and closes Sunday, August 1 at 11 p.m. PT. To get a better idea of the types of projects we think are a good fit, read our detailed FAQs and join one of our upcoming live Q&A sessions.

Later this year, we’ll also open applications for our first Startups boot camp dedicated exclusively to Canadian founders. The Canadian boot camp will be custom-designed to address the realities of starting a business or non-profit journalism project in Canada, addressing country-specific questions like tax status, business registration, legal preparedness, and the Qualified Canadian Journalism Organization Designation. We will also look at ways to strengthen Canada’s media ecosystem by tackling issues like diversity and how to increase support for Canadian communities currently under-served by news.

As someone born in Toronto General Hospital, who spent childhood summers with family in Quebec and Nova Scotia, and later working for a startup newsroom in Vancouver, the opportunity to bring the Boot Camp to Canada is a real honour.

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Bay View is open — the first campus built by Google

Taking green building to a new scaleTo deliver on our commitment to operate every hour of every day on carbon-free energy by 2030, we prioritized renewable energy and maximized the solar potential of our buildings. Bay View’s first-of-its-kind dragonscale solar skin and nearby wind farms will power it on carbon-free energy 90% of the time.The…

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Taking green building to a new scale

To deliver on our commitment to operate every hour of every day on carbon-free energy by 2030, we prioritized renewable energy and maximized the solar potential of our buildings. Bay View’s first-of-its-kind dragonscale solar skin and nearby wind farms will power it on carbon-free energy 90% of the time.

The campus is also on track to be the largest project certified by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) under any of their programs, at any certification level. As part of ILFI’s Living Building Challenge, we’re targeting a Water Petal certification, meaning the site is net-positive with all non-potable water demands being met using the recycled water generated on site. Above-ground ponds that gather rainwater year round and a building wastewater treatment system serve as water sources for cooling towers, flushing toilets and irrigating the landscape. This is a big step toward delivering on our commitment to replenish 120% of the water we consume by 2030.

It doesn’t stop there. Bay View is an example of an all-electric campus and shows what’s possible in regenerative building. Here’s how:

  • The two kitchens that serve seven cafes are equipped with electric equipment rather than gas — a template for fully carbon-free cafes and kitchens.
  • There are 17.3 acres of high-value natural areas — including wet meadows, woodlands and a marsh — that are designed to reestablish native landscapes and rehabilitate Bay Area wetlands. Something that’s especially important as Bay View sits close to the San Francisco Bay.
  • The water retention ponds not only collect water for reuse, but also provide nature restoration, sea level rise protection, and access to the beauty of natural wetlands. New willow groves along the stormwater ponds provide resources for wildlife.
  • The integrated geothermal pile system will help heat and cool the campus. The massive geoexchange field is integrated into the structural system, reducing the amount of water typically used for cooling by 90% — that’s equal to five million gallons of water annually.

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Seniors search what they see, using a new Lens

“Often, when I go for a walk, I stumble upon an unknown flower or a tree. Now I can just take a picture to discover what kind of plant I am standing before,” Verner Madsen, one of the participants, remarked. “I don’t need to bring my encyclopedia. It is really smart and helpful.”Seniors in a…

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“Often, when I go for a walk, I stumble upon an unknown flower or a tree. Now I can just take a picture to discover what kind of plant I am standing before,” Verner Madsen, one of the participants, remarked. “I don’t need to bring my encyclopedia. It is really smart and helpful.”

Seniors in a country like Denmark are generally very tech savvy, but with digitization constantly advancing — accelerating even faster during two years of COVID-19 — some seniors risk being left behind, creating gaps between generations. During worldwide lockdowns, technological tools have helped seniors stay connected with their family and friends, and smartphone features have helped improve everyday life. One key element of that is delivering accurate and useful information when needed. And for that, typed words on a smartphone keyboard can often be substituted with a visual search, using a single tap on the screen.

Being able to “search what you see” in this way was an eye-opener to many. As the day ended, another avid participant, Henrik Rasmussen, declared he was heading straight home to continue his practice.

“I thought I was up to speed on digital developments, but after today I realize that I still have a lot to learn and discover,” he said.

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Meet the entrepreneur connecting Kenyans to healthy food

When Binti Mwallau started Hasanat Ventures, her dairy processing company in Kenya, she expected some resistance from her peers in an industry dominated by men. But she was surprised to run into more skepticism from her customers. Despite her background in finance and biochemistry, many of them questioned her credibility as a woman entrepreneur.Worried that…

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When Binti Mwallau started Hasanat Ventures, her dairy processing company in Kenya, she expected some resistance from her peers in an industry dominated by men. But she was surprised to run into more skepticism from her customers. Despite her background in finance and biochemistry, many of them questioned her credibility as a woman entrepreneur.

Worried that her gender would affect Hasanat Ventures’ reputation, Binti considered hiring a man as the face of the business. But she eventually decided against it, standing firm in her pride as a solo founder and committed to tearing down the perception that women-run businesses in Africa aren’t as successful as those run by men.

“I think we should be challenging the outdated narrative that businesses run by men are guaranteed to be more successful,” Binti says. “Based on research, we’ve seen that businesses run by women actually perform better. We should use this as an opportunity to prove that as a woman, you do stand a chance to succeed in everything that you do.”

Just as important to Binti as breaking this bias was giving Kenyans more access to affordable nutrition. “I realized that many people couldn’t afford premium yogurt. So we entered the market with a high-quality product that’s affordable for lower and middle-income earners who have become more health-conscious,” she says.

Binti knew she had to drive awareness for her brand, particularly to reach Kenyans who needed convincing about yogurt’s health benefits. So she turned to Google Digital Skills for Africa, which offers virtual classes to help entrepreneurs grow their skills and businesses, and completed a digital marketing course to help her get Hasanat Ventures online.

“After participating in the course, we knew our online presence had to be bigger than just social media,” Binti says. “Now that we have a fully functional website, we are actually getting leads from outside Kenya.”

As part of the course, Binti learned how to use Google Analytics to measure her website’s performance. She could now monitor traffic insights, analyze pageviews and better understand who was visiting her site.

Binti’s determination and passion for her business are showing up in the results. In its first year, Hasanat Ventures supplied over 300 retailers with affordable dairy products. Three years later, it’s grown to support more than 50 farmers and even built its own production facility to keep up with demand.

“I really want to make sure that I am visible and speaking up in spaces women don’t usually have access to,” Binti says. “As Hasanat Ventures continues to grow, I am confident I can help change the perception of African women in business.”

58% of Africa’s entrepreneurs are women. That’s why we’re empowering them with the platform and tools to grow their businesses. Learn more about our #LookMeUp campaign, highlighting Africa’s women entrepreneurs like Binti who are working to break the bias.

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