Who wants $5,000?

Earlier this week, Blogpac announced a series of $5,000 grants to support entrepreneurs who develop proposals for building progressive infrastructure.  Having spent a bit of time discussing liberal entrepreneurship on this blog, I was very excited to read the announcement.  This kind of effort is exactly what I want to see more of from progressive organizations, and three cheers to Blogpac for leading the way!

I will probably be sending in my own submission to this contest, and for the moment I'm holding my own hand close to the vest.  But in the spirit of friendly competition and encouraging other budding entrepreneurs, and in hopes of flooding the panel of judges with good ideas, this diary is dedicated to helping others develop proposals for the contest.  Follow me across the flip...

First, let me suggest a general framework, for those of you who want to participate in the contest, but have a bit of writer's block.  Read my diary from March, How liberal entrepreneurship can help solve the progressive money problem; the larger part of that diary includes a catalog of all the various structural and cultural problems which are facing the progressive movement.  If you're looking for a problem to address, this is a good place to start.  Once you've picked a problem and developed an idea for addressing that problem, check out my diary from early April, Revenue streams for liberal entrepreneurs.  This diary catalogs a number of revenue streams available to liberal entrepreneurs, and can help get you started with sustainability approaches - that is, methods for making your idea into a full-fledged, profitable enterprise.  (Blogpac's rules require that you describe how you will fund your project, since presumably your idea will cost more than $5,000.)

Second, I'd like to support any potential contestants who'd like some help refining their ideas.  Use the comment threads on this post to hash out your ideas, and ask for help from your fellow MyDD readers.  I will read through your comments and promise to provide my own thoughts about how to strengthen your proposal.  If it makes sense, I might also post another entry next weekend, soliciting more comments, ideas, and refinements to promising ideas.  (Please note, I'm on the road this weekend, so it might take some time for me to respond to your comments below.)

Finally, here is a list of ideas which I think might make for interesting entries into the contest.  These are all ideas which I developed by myself, which (as far as I can tell) have not been surfaced elsewhere.  Anyone is free to take these ideas, adapt or tweak them, and enter them into the contest.

  • A daily talk show featuring strong, progressive spokespeople debating policy issues, distributed on YouTube.  The talk show could be supplemented with a speakers bureau which represents and promotes the spokespeople, and garners some percentage of their speaking fees to support operational costs.

  • An ActBlue for liberal churches or for labor unions - i.e., an online tool which makes donating to these organizations easy.

  • A website which "grades" candidates according to the consultants they hire, and actively encourages issue groups to take these grades into account when making endorsement decisions.

  • A consulting firm which helps bloggers develop business plans and advertising strategies for making their blog a self-sustaining business.

  • A competitor to Blogads which places ads on liberal blogs.  There are a number of ways such a competitor could offer unique features which Blogads can't.  For example, such a competitor could offer "cost per action" advertising, in which the blogger earns a fixed amount for each donation made on ActBlue.

This list of ideas is just a first pass for now, and many of them are half-baked.  If you have your own ideas, and your looking for feedback, drop them in the comments below, and I (and hopefully others) will help refine and strengthen your ideas.  I promise not to use your idea in my own entry, but of course, this is a public forum, and other people might nab your idea.  So, commenter beware.

Good luck!

Tags: BlogPac, liberal entrepreneurship (all tags)



Re: Who wants $5,000?

How about a wikipedia-type website exclusively listing journalists and pundits and their stories/statements that turned out to be, er, counter-factual?

Sorta like Media Matters, except you'd search by journalist name. John Solomon, Michael Gordon, whatever. Then you'd get a list of factual errors (with references, of course), and what, if any, response was forthcoming from the person or organization.

by BingoL 2007-07-14 09:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Who wants $5,000?

sounds great!  i'd love to see something like that.  you might also want to check out http://www.mediatransparency.org/, which has some great info on conservative media figures and how they're funded.  another site to check out is congresspedia, which covers these sorts of things at a higher level, and (as far as i know) from a non-partisan angle.)

i guess the major question for this site is, what would the revenue model be?  one obvious model is advertising revenue.  a site like that is likely to get a lot of google hits, as people who search for, e.g. "Chris Matthews" end up on his wiki page.  another approach to sustainability, which would be a little trickier, is some sort of consultancy which advises progressive campaigns and organizations on influencing and working with various media figures; there could even be a service which offers something like a briefing sheet to people who are going to be guests on various shows.

write it up, and good luck!

by Shai Sachs 2007-07-21 02:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Who wants $5,000?

Here's my proposal: Sell your car. Get a bike. That's what I did. Stop pollution by stopping polluting. That's my whole proposal.

Where's my $5,000?

by Pope Jeremy 2007-07-14 11:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Who wants $5,000?

How about a micro-loan program whereby people donate into a common pool  that then makes interest-free loans to local progressive candidates, for use on local media. Like ActBlue, the program takes a percentage off teh top of the loan, so it would work like this:

1000 people put in $100
candidate receives 99,000
extra 1000 goes to the company
candidate's campaign pays back 100,000

the idea is to help candidates offset theheavy cost of media during peak season and focus resources on other avenues.

by azizhp 2007-07-14 02:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Who wants $5,000?

Hmmm... seems like a neat idea, but is it legal?  I could only imagine that would raise all sorts of issues with the FEC.

Micro-loans are a great mechanism, though, and I'm fairly sure they have a place in progressive infrastructure.  For example, I'd like to see an organization capable of making loans to small progressive businesses, which draws its funds from small dollar donors (who eventually get paid back).  It's possible to do something like this through sites like prosper.com, but I imagine that an organization devoted to that particular mission would be able to provide additional services to lenders, e.g. legal assistance and that sort of thing.

by Shai Sachs 2007-07-22 05:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Who wants $5,000?

Thanks for posting this - I'm going to look into it.    I've been trying to channel the energy of today's Pro-peace and Pro-environment atmosphere into something more productive than just bashing President Bush.  The new Republican candidates must be prevented from distancing themselves from the previous one.  I've created a series of bumper-sticker symbols to remind people evaluating the new candidates to think about the disaster of the old one.   I'm not planning to make much money from it - the stickers are priced barely above break-even.  I've invested about all I can into the design and printing of the symbols, and setting up the website.  I would use the grant for blog advertising, and agree to donate it back if my small business ever made a profit.  So cool, thanks for the heads-up!  

by NoMcW 2007-07-15 09:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Who wants $5,000?

Good luck!

By the way, the rules state that your idea could not have received more than $25,000 in grants in the past 12 months, so you may want to address that issue specifically in your proposal.

by Shai Sachs 2007-07-22 05:45AM | 0 recs


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