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Social Media Portal - Profiled - Andrew Gregson - Media140

Staff (Social Media Portal) - 16 June 2009

Profiled - Media140.com - The Twitter and mircoblogging event debating the future of realtime news


An Interview with Andrew Gregson, Founder and CEO of Twitter conference Media140.com


Media140.com logoSocial Media Portal (SMP): What is your full job title and role (what do you do) at Media140.com?

Andrew Gregson (AG): I guess you could call me the founder and CEO of media140 although when translated into the reality of the situation a jack of all trades – from persuading other entrepreneurs to provide some of their services for free, writing business proposals, building WebPages, designing in Photoshop, networking to build out a global base of media140 advocates and setting out future strategy and vision for the company and seeking out new, innovative and disruptive ways to create exciting and unique event experiences.

SMP: What made you start Media140.com (and when was it founded)?

AG: I founded company in February 2009 as part of a charity initiative to fund a Mencap charity challenge to run the Marathon Des Sables – which is desert marathon race over 6 days – effectively 6 marathons back to back over 6 days.

The first media140 held on the 20th May 2009 in London to over 250 people was such a resounding success, it effectively spawned a brand and business which I decided to develop into a social concept and run these worldwide.
 
SMP: What is the most challenging part of building the company so far, and why?

AG: For me it would be the getting the basic building blocks in place.  Brand awareness – its such a challenging and competitive landscape at the moment around Twitter and microblogging in that there are so many events coming out of the woodwork from every ‘tom, dick and mary’ that you have to very quickly build a brand and differentiate yourself from the crowd to stand any chance of long term success. Media140 is a platform to explore the future of the ‘real-time’ web and not just focus on a single platform such as Twitter – making that differentiation to an audience who are slavishly lapping up every Twitter event that appears around the globe – this is key for our future success.

SMP: Who are your target audience and why?

AG:
The target audience for media140’s cover a number of vertical industries from journalism, advertising, brands, PR, marketing, music, gaming, entertainment, technology and political organisations. We have a big thing about making our events accessible in that we are not looking for you to pay $100’s of dollars or pounds for an event – we want to remove that model and make it easy to participate and take value from the events and project we undertake.

SMP: You’ve just finished the first London event (Wednesday, 20 May 2009), what did you and your audience take away from it?

AG: We had an amazing event in the 20th to over 250 attendees and a diverse geographically audience via Ustream. For me it was a real eye opening experience realising how much potential lay behind media140 and the whole concept.

Amongst the 200 or so that made it down to the Refinery to see the bath full of beer and wine I could see there was real positive vibe from the whole day – from the people I spoke to personally my general sense was that:

  • The case studies shed light on what did and didn’t work for ‘out in the field’ journalists
  • Opening panel kicked of a whole string of debates around ‘truth versus speed’  - which are still being covered in the mainstream media
  • Networking with new faces, given we have in purpose opened this event to mainstream organisations – I found we had a much more appreciative audience rather than the usual tech / social media crowd
  • And finally they recognised that a new brand/platform had been created for future events which really made the huge difference – which was very different from everything they had previously attended

The quote from one of the attendees from a major advertising agency which made my day was along these lines ‘…having been to so many events over the past 10 years this was by far the best I have ever been to.’

SMP: What are the low moments of what you have been doing so far?

AG: Lack of sleep is one of them, unfortunately being a jack of all trades means I have to do a lot of work myself – although with many volunteers joining the ranks of the media140 crew on a global scale this is making a huge difference

SMP: What are the high moments of what you have been doing so far?


AG: The sheer generosity of people amazes me – either in the time they are willing to put into the projects we are starting, the support at events and the engaging way future sponsors and media partners are coming forward to work with the team on the projects we are pulling together/

SMP: Now that you are established, what do you see as your biggest challenges and opportunities?

AG: The biggest challenge and opportunity is managing all the amazing ideas that are springing out of conversations with individuals I am meeting who are very keen to get involved in the projects. Each new conversation I have generates more ideas and potential for media140 – managing this to ensure we deliver on some of these is critical – the upside is a globally recognised brand that will make for very creative, disruptive and innovative vehicle to explore the future of the ‘real-time’ web.

Of course another challenge is ensuring we have enough cash flow to ensure we can pay for some of the professionals we are now beginning to employ on the projects – so seeking angel investors will be

SMP: What are the next moves for Media140.com and the microblogging events?

AG: Oooooo now that would be telling, why tell you all the story it would be boring wouldn’t it – needless to say we have some surprises up our sleeve which will raise a few eyebrows, shake a few tress and disrupt a few old school media folk – first one is the aroundtheworldin140days.com – the rest, well you will just have to wait and see.

SMP: What’s the next big step for social media and networks?


AG: There are no big steps, we are in unexplored territory, everything we are doing is new and experimental – I think seeing some acquisitions is clearly on the cards at some point – but more importantly I think you will begin to see some privacy and political meddling in the social media networks.  The social power within self forming groups and social media begins to displace some of the old power structures and communication networks, letting go of this isn’t something that happens overnight.

SMP: What’s microblogging role in this and what do you think the possibly outcomes are going to be?

AG: I don’t think the term ‘microblogging’ is the correct term to use in this instance – we are talking here about the fundamental way in which people are communicating on a mass scale – the ability to connect, share and collaborate without any boundaries. Twitter is just one example whereby one person is able to communicate with 1000’s in an instant, this model provides the means for social change and political change – if there is a sufficient adoption of the mode of communication you will see new political groups forming, new social networks forming (not just online), pressure groups will become far more powerful and the control factions of a government or state will either begin to try to control the means to be controlled by it.

SMP: What’s going to be the most interesting aspect regarding social media / technology throughout 2009?


AG: The growth in the ‘human face’ of brands – the further social media becomes embedded into mainstream the more you will see brands being to appear in this space – but not a typical broadcast model more in terms of a dialogue – listening and actively responding to the needs of a customer base – far more quicker than they are currently doing. Being ‘human’ in nature with emotions and opinions.

SMP: What impact is the global recession having and what do you think the best way that businesses can manage this (and with microblogging)?

AG: I don’t think microblogging will take the DOW, FTSE or NASDAQ back to the heady days when the wall street nihilist were washing their Aston Martins with Bollinger – the global recession is hitting many industries damaging the means of production and hurting the service industries. Focusing on your core strengths rather then diversifying, ensuring you are listening to your customers – they are the ones that will buy your products – having the means to listen to your customers one could say social media provides a channel – but not the sole channel. Ensuring you are competitive in your own marketplace cutting costs to meet to short terms financial goals is a failing policy, as it is likely to cost you more to replace those resources when growth returns.

SMP: How does this fit into plans at Media140.com?

AG: We focus on niche industries with proposition that is accessible and cutting edge – using creativity to drive interest and innovation to sustain growth. We are using the power of the network to leverage our social connections around the world to have a virtual team in place rather than having a fixed overhead, working with motivated, energised and professional individuals makes for a great team spirit.

That’s media140!

SMP: Best way to contact you?

AG:
Email is probably the worst, although I do read every email I receive it’s the answering I have problems with. Twitter is easy cheap and to the point @media140. Conversely if you call me +44 7595 264183


Now some questions for fun

SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?


AG:
Well given I competed this at 35,000 feet on a Virgin Atlantic flight to New York – I had over boiled parsnips, over cooked salmon, cold pasta and a chocolate pudding that is still cemented to the roof of my mouth – the joy of travelling economy I suspect…

SMP: What’s the last good thing that you did for someone?

AG: Donating to http://www.justgiving.com/clairecrowson sponsorship page, after seeing her request on Twitter – have no idea who she is, I just felt a random act of kindness.

SMP: How many hours to you work a week?

AG: On average around 18 hours per day, mainly mixing it up with a number of other projects which I have on the go

SMP: If you weren’t running Media140.com what would you be doing?

AG: I would probably be developing dailytwitter.com – another concept based around the use of micro blogging to create a daily newspaper for Twitter users – also given I tend to run and cycle quite a bit – chances are I would be running a marathon with some kind of mad end goal such as climbing K2 and or an Everest base camp trek.

SMP: When and where did you go on your last holiday?


AG: India, Himalayan Trek into Ladakh on a VSO (Voluntary Services Overseas) Trip – 5 day trek into the Himalayan mountain range

SMP: What’s the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?

AG: Turn the computer on. Green Tea. Google News feeds. Email. Repeat until suitability satiated.

SMP: If you had a superpower what would it be and why?


AG: Why need a superpower, that’s just plain cheating – with determination, motivation and focus you can achieve almost anything – remember impossible is nothing – but I guess if I had to pick, would probably be the ability to breathe underwater. Given than almost 80% of our planets surface is covered by water and less than 1% has been actually explored, wouldn’t it just be completely amazing to be able to see what's really down there!

SMP: Are there any other sites/s that we should be aware of that relate to the above?

AG: Yes, we have just launched a project called ‘aroundtheworldin140days.com’ which is an ambitious project to bring together a global network of media140 from London, Bangalore, Sydney, US and other countries yet to be announced. It is a collaborative exploration into the nature of the ‘real-time’ web and how is it changing the world in which we live and disrupting many communication mediums.

SMP: Is there a corporate or personal blog/s we should know about?


AG: Not at the moment, I have been somewhat of a social hermit with regards to making public some of my thoughts and ideas over the past couple of years – although dailytwitter.com would be a place to start, if you can blow of some of the dust that has gathered there recently.

 

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