Interview with Denise Shrivell, Founder of MediaScope
Lifeconcerto is profiling people who have set out to do something and achieved it. These stories explore their initial plans, the hurdles they encountered along the way and how they overcame these.
This interview is with Denise Shrivell, Founder of MediaScope, a marketplace and online directory that launched earlier this year for advertising media buyers and sellers to connect with a focus beyond mainstream media options. It provides listings and advertising opportunities for niche media across sectors including sport, business, finance, women’s media, digital and others. Denise consults widely across marketing, advertising and media sectors. Here she talks about why she launched MediaScope …
There were professional and personal reasons for starting up the directory. It was clear that there was a need for this kind of service for media buyers and sellers. As the media trading landscape evolves and changes so quickly there is an ongoing and deepening ‘disconnect’ between buyers and sellers – particularly at the emerging ‘long tail’ end of the market. No one is addressing this vibrant part of the market effectively. I saw it as an opportunity to provide a dedicated resource which provides a solution to this ongoing problem and also ‘give back’ to an industry that’s been pretty good to me.
It was a good way to use the IP that I’ve been offering as a consultant and invest it into my own business. Ultimately, any insights I gain as a small business owner will make me a better consultant to the companies I continue to work with given I’m experiencing the kinds of issues that they are also facing first-hand.
From a personal perspective, it was also a lifestyle choice. I appreciate the flexibility of working solo, especially when managing my time around school holidays and children. That’s not easy to achieve in the corporate environment.
If you were to do anything differently a second time around, what would it be?
I’d definitely be more careful about the people I choose to work with. In my case, the initial tech build of MediaScope was incredibly difficult and somewhat harrowing – and this was down to not selecting my initial developer partner wisely enough. For any online business obviously having a good developer is vital.
Often, we focus on looking at experience when it comes to partners. It’s important, but you also need to find someone you can trust, who’s going to work well with you, be passionate about your vision and potential and can contribute their expertise effectively to add the overall product.
With website development it’s almost like you have to go through the process to know differently next time. The developer I’m working with now is brilliant. He’s keen, hungry and has a great attitude, especially when it comes to customer service. That’s really important for me.
I’d also recommend negotiating and going with a fixed cost arrangement wherever possible. It means that the finance discussion is sorted and allows everyone to focus on the project. A question which I didn’t think to ask was if any development was outsourced either on or offshore – I learned the hard way not to assume anything and am still living with some elements on the site that are not to standard or the original specification due to this.
What obstacles have you faced while launching MediaScope? How did you confront them?
While working alone gives me flexibility in certain areas, I have found it surprisingly difficult. I greatly miss having others around to challenge me and to bounce ideas off. If you have two people in a business, they can create buzz. It’s challenging to do this solo.
I’ve created ways to deal with this. For instance, I’ve developed a “brains-trust” around me, trusted people who I meet and talk with regularly to throw around ideas and ask for their advice.
I’ve also learnt to be more patient and set more realistic time goals. Sometimes, when I’ve wanted things to happen more quickly or if I’m frustrated that a situation is not how I want it to be, I have to step back and understand my priorities may not be others.
Particularly when working on your own you need to achieve a good work/life balance – I have been working outrageously long hours for many, many months – this is not sustainable and doesn’t serve myself, my business or my family.
What have your successes been? What have you learnt from them?
I’m very happy that MediaScope has launched – that’s my biggest success to date! The idea was easy. It’s the execution that’s hard and I am always looking at ways to improve the current site and service.
The feedback from the industry while doing this has been great. My perception is that people have appreciated me putting myself on the line and having a go. I’ve been really encouraged by the response and continue to work hard to meet the needs of the market I serve.
Any advice for someone starting out?
Always, always remember to keep your eye on the bigger picture and where you want your business to be. Inevitably, everyone has down days when starting out on their own venture. Push through them. Have a good support network around you for these occasions. I have found emails and messages from friends and colleagues telling me to “hang in there” invaluable.
I’d also suggest making sure that you have some rapport with the businesses that you outsource to. While working alone, it’s important to develop a strong relationship with the people and partners you surround yourself with.
One of the great things about having a small business is the flexibility this brings to try new things and change direction – be open to ideas and initiatives but still be true to your overall vision.
Lastly, listen to your inner voice and trust your judgement. I didn’t listen to mine with my first developer partner and I quickly realised that I should have.
At the end of the day, starting a new business is a leap of faith – things will always happen which are outside of your control. Understand there will be good and bad days and learn from your experiences along the way. You will make mistakes (I always feel like mine are so public) – don’t be too hard on yourself.
Since MediaScope has launched, it’s been well received and we are building a good representation of media listings and opportunities. I’d like to get a lot more media sellers on board but I also need to increase the buyers’ audience to achieve this. It’s a chicken and egg situation. I’m really working hard to minimise this early, inevitable and sometimes frustrating phase.
I’m having a lot of conversations with 25 years worth of contacts to understand what MediaScope needs to focus on next and how I can help other businesses. I am working hard to increase our proposition to both advertising buyers and sellers. Watch this space!
If you would like to know more about MediaScope, drop Denise a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: 0424 100325.
You can also follow MediaScope on Twitter, become a Facebook fan or join the LinkedIn group.