Every day, there’s a war of ideas. Different interests and mindsets push and pull against one another. These battles happen even more frequently in a start-up environment and especially at a publication.
I look forward to writing this letter every month as a way to digest the previous 30 days. But sometimes I hear myself sounding like a broken record: “Blah blah blah, we tried something new this past month and this is what happened…”
This letter is different. It’s not about a specific topic; rather, it marks a change in philosophy. A few months ago, Alex and I started doing an internal audit of MAEKAN. We asked ourselves, “What isn’t working? What needs to be changed?” We kept circling around one question, “What exactly is MAEKAN, and, more importantly, what is it going to become? (wannabe) tech company? A membership-based community? Or simply, a media company?”
The audit had some interesting results. We didn’t intend for membership to necessarily be the sole business model. MAEKAN is built around the concept of uniting creatives around the world. It allows us to challenge one another, and discuss things that often gets lost in other mediums. Serving this function takes precedence over the exact business model we decide to explore.
Membership seemed to be a reasonable place to start achieving this goal. When you start off, you don’t know always know if things will stick. But you need to start somewhere and get something out the door. Membership was a relatively untested modern-day take on a classic media business model and one that could allow us to preserve our independent editorial voice.
When MAEKAN first started, membership revenue alone wasn’t a meaningful revenue stream. The pay gate was also preventing us from even utilizing one of the best marketing tools we had: our own stories.
During the audit, Alex and I got heated as we traded barbs, coming from a difference in our philosophies. But that was to be expected. I’ve always appreciated the great differences between the two of us in our ways of thinking. Alex wanted something much more open so that people could freely derive value from it. I was wary of giving up something that I felt could result in the best possible creative outcome because a more direct relationship with a member often enables us to look out for their best interests.
The consensus was that by lifting the gate, we could provide more value to the creative community and still intentionally serve members like yourself. The business models for media have been uprooted in recent years and we’ve narrowed down that for MAEKAN to not only exist, but grow (and add value), we need to be open on how we generate revenue to maintain sustainability. It could be events, it could be partnering with brands we’re excited with that understand what we’re trying to do, it could be product. The modern media company can’t rely on one singular stream.
Having said that, I’m excited to announce a few changes:
We appreciate your support as we prepare to share MAEKAN with a greater audience while finding new ways to expand and enrich our membership experience. As always, let us know your thoughts on email or Slack.