Each month as part of StartHub Startups to Watch Program we connect with the winning company to learn more about them. Our September Startup to Watch is Abridge News, a tech and media startup. Recently we had the pleasure of interviewing Laura Carpenter, CEO and Co-Founder of Abridge News. Here’s what we learned:
Tell us about your company. What is Abridge News?
Abridge News is a tech and media startup that helps independent thinkers see trending news stories from different perspectives, creating a space for people looking to escape from echo chambers and filter bubbles.
How does Abridge News work?
Each day, on abridgenews.com, we provide our readers with quick facts and a variety of curated op-eds on a trending topic. Each topic is introduced with a set of relevant facts that aim to provide a user with a brief, objective framework. Next, using our spectrum feature, users can get an overview of perspectives by swiping left or right to navigate the different views. The reader can react to the arguments made in the opinions and also see what other readers think. We also reach our readers via a daily email newsletter and produce lots of custom content on our social media accounts.
The opinion spectrum from an example topic on abridgenews.com
What is your background? Who is on your team?
I recently graduated from Harvard Business School but I’m an engineer at heart. Before getting my MBA, I worked for Deloitte’s Strategy and Operations consulting division, primarily helping clients with their supply chains and manufacturing operations. I have a Mechanical Engineering degree from Georgia Tech and while in school, I worked for Georgia Power as a Distribution Engineer.
I have a great team! My co-founder, David Byas-Smith, is a brilliant designer, coder, and builder, and our Editorial Lead, Kristine, produces and curates fantastic content for our site. Madi Johnson, our marketing intern, runs our daily email newsletter.
[Left to Right] Kristine Sowers (Editorial Lead), David Byas-Smith (Co-Founder & CTO), Laura Carpenter (Co-Founder & CEO)
How did you come up with the idea for Abridge News? Who is your target customer?
In the months leading up to and following the 2016 presidential election, it felt as though political discourse was more toxic than ever. Online, people lived in news echo chambers and most discussion between differing views quickly devolved into shouting matches. I was sick of people — on both ends of the political spectrum — stereotyping without taking the time to understand and empathize. Meanwhile, I was at Harvard Business School, an institution known for its great case method. Each day in class, students would advocate for different sides of an argument. Debates were always robust, civil and productive. I thought that a case method approach could be highly applicable for discussions of trending news stories. We are building Abridge News for open-minded news consumers who are looking for a simple, smart and balanced news experience.
How does Abridge News’ Editorial Process Work?
Our Editorial Lead, Kristine Sowers, recently wrote a great medium post on this. You can check it out here.
What is the ultimate vision for the company?
Our mission is to increase empathy and critical thinking in the world by promoting diverse perspectives. Ultimately, Abridge News will be the go-to platform for those who want to understand what others think about important issues and / or contribute their own points of view.
Who are your main investors?
Dorm Room Fund, Microsoft, Harvard Business School’s Rock Accelerator Program. We are in the process of finalizing our first pre-seed / angel round of funding.
Why did you decide to start your business in Boston? How long has your company been around?
Abridge News was founded while I was in school at HBS in Summer 2017, and the decision to stay in Boston was a no-brainer. The city is extraordinary! We’ve been able to connect with some great mentors and love the strong Boston founders community.
What resources in the startup community have contributed to the success of Abridge News?
We’ve benefited greatly from being part of Harvard Business School’s Rock Accelerator Program, the Harvard Innovation Lab, MassChallenge, and Microsoft’s Civic Tech Scholarship. We’ve been learning a lot from monthly Civic Tech meetups at District Hall and, of course, we rely on StartHub to keep us up to date on activities, applications, and big news in the Boston community.
What are the next steps for Abridge News?
We just launched an Abridge News guide to the 2018 Midterms and we are going to do some of our first PR and digital campaigns to highlight this resource. We are also a few weeks away from launching and Abridge News iOS application! In 2019, we plan to do a lot more with our user reaction data while doubling down on user acquisition.
Anything else readers should know?
We love getting feedback! Readers can check us out at abridgenews.com and subscribe to our daily email newsletter at abridgenews.com/subscribe. They can also send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org any time with thoughts and suggestions.Read Complete Article