In an era of smartphones, internet, and social-networks, just about anyone can become a journalist. However, while photos and videos from an event can prove useful, they do not always paint a complete picture of a particular situation and it takes journalists to put together the pieces and present a useful story. Croatian startup Colomb,io aims to provide journalists with a platform through which they can develop a network or local sources to provide them with information and help to construct stories.
Most journalists can already be reached through email or Twitter, but Colomb,io aims to go a step further, allowing the public to notify or call the reporter, even without a phone number, or to obtain money in exchange for photos, videos, or other information. The service, which has already gone live on Android and iOS, aims to provide a central hub through which reporters can manage various stories for which they need information, pay sources, and promote their articles.
The platform has not yet officially launched, so it is too early to talk about significant growth. Tomislav Simpovic, who co-founded the startup and currently works as its CEO, tells me that they actually wanted to take things slowly, reaching out to an initial 100 beta testers before ceasing promotion of the platform and returning to focus on the feedback that they received. Simpovic says that they have reached deals with 30 media outlets in Croatia alone and, if all goes well with the official launch that they have planned in a few weeks, they will expand to other countries.
Startups need to generate revenue somehow and Simpovic tells me that they intend to take commissions on payments delivered to local sources. They are also developing a web service for media outlets, for which they intend to charge access. The service will be free to local sources.
Simpovic says that he and the other co-founders bootstrapped the service from its inception last May with $25,000. Within the past few weeks, they have joined the program at the Eleven accelerator, which has become one of Bulgaria’s most prominent organizations in terms of supporting startups. The company obtained 25,000 Euro as part of participating in the program at Eleven and may pick up another 75,000 Euro from the accelerator in a few months if needed.