Waterloo-based startup Media Spot Me launched a platform today for journalists, made by journalists. The site gives media workers short on time instant access to reliable interview sources in any subject.
Cofounder Stavros Rougas knows the problem all too well, having worked as a television producer in Toronto for years. Successfully chasing down reliable and knowledgeable sources from subjects as specific as robotics in Japan served as a reoccurring pain point.
“I knew there must be a better way to deal with my greatest pain - finding quality people to interview. There isn't, so I co-founded a company with an engineering grad from the University of Waterloo and we are building it,” Rougas told Techvibes.
Talking from the University of Waterloo’s VeloCity space, Rougas spoke about the two-fold benefit of Media Spot Me. Not only does it solve a journalist’s worst nightmare (in a timely fashion), but it also helps accelerate exposure and media relations for quality sources eager to provide their expertise.
“The overarching thing is it’s journalists building something for journalists, not an outsider building something that works,” said the cofounder. “It’s built around the paradigm to get right to the point and to be at the core in one click.”
For now most of the sources are university professors and Rougas points out that these sources are handy for a number of reasons. “They’re able to speak freely which is a big thing for journalists,” he said. “Even though they work for a corporation they’re not really under the corporate structure. You don’t tell an academic what to say, that would be uproar to university.”
So far they’ve built up much of their source database themselves, but they anticipate that number to easily rise with more exposure. Rougas emphasized that it’s very much a quality network; sources must request an invite and be granted access before they can set up a profile.
Rougas met his cofounder, Ebrahim Ashrafizadeh, at a local tech meet up in Waterloo and, “really hit it off on a personal level.” Ashrafizadeh studied mechatronics at Waterloo and cites his favourite challenge as when he assembled a “smart” boxing speed bag. He’s also accomplished such feats as generating heating profiles for jet engines.
Once the two cofounders decided they wanted to go further then just a prototype, Rougas quit his full time job and as of late 2011 Media Spot Me was a reality.
Although the company has mainly bootstrapped their way to launch they have benefitted from seed financing in the form of a $30,000 grant from Ontario’s VentureStart program. They are looking for further funding but for Rougas the plan is really to get the product out and showcase.
When it comes to great moments in the company’s still short history, the modest Rougas told Techvibes that there hasn’t been one.
“I don’t think its come yet,” he said. “I‘m always looking for more and I think its part of that entrepreneurial spirit: when you land it, you want more.”