Advice for 2014 Media Ideation Fellows


Great news for aspiring social and tech entrepreneurs! Media Ideation is looking for a brand new batch of fellows. Applications are officially open. I had the pleasure of being part of the inaugural class of Media Ideation fellows last year.

Several people have reached out asking for advice as they prepare their applications due January 31, 2014. I've compiled a Q&A list below based on questions people have been asking me. Feel free to tweet me @taralconley if you have additional questions or insights to provide. I'll be sure to update this post with new questions as they come in.

Best of luck to all the applicants!

Can you tell me about your experience with the fellowship?

Overall, my experience with the fellowship has been a good one. I was awarded the graduate level fellowship ($12,000), which afforded me the opportunity to develop TXT CONNECT over the course of 3 months. I’ve met people in the design and tech fields that I probably would not have met otherwise. Certainly there are moments when I wish I had more time and more funds to work with but I think these limitations force you to hone your idea into something that is realistic and feasible. The financial support from the fellowship enabled me to work closely with co-designers (youth in NYC), and as a result I was able to develop a mobile platform with young people and also write a research study based on our time spent together. My research study is currently under the review of an international journal.

How are you using the fellowship for 3 months for a project that will likely take much more time to develop?

As mentioned above, because you have a limited amount of time and funds to work with, the best advice I can give to those who are now applying is to narrow your focus and scope down to an idea that can be developed realistically and feasibly. Ask yourself: What can I realistically accomplish in three or six months? Remember that the fellowship is there to help you develop your idea, so use that time wisely. As visionaries we tend to think long-term, certainly keep this strategy in mind, but also incorporate short-term strategies as a way to scaffold, or build up through each phase.

Think about how best your time and funds can be utilized across various stages of development including technology and legal costs and building relationships over time. Really breakdown what development means for your project. It’s not just the technology itself that has to be developed, but also the relationships and partnerships with stakeholders, community members, and/or end users that also need to be developed and nurtured overtime. As it concerns legal issues and costs, you want to do some research about incorporation and/or terms of service. The fellowship offers access to legal consultants.

How did you choose your deliverables for the fellowship period?

Since TXT CONNECT was also my pilot study for my doctoral research, I already had a good idea of what my timeline looked like going into the fellowship. My deliverables were primarily based on a timeline I created early on. The fellowship asks you to outline a timeline, which I think is a great strategy to get you thinking about what and how you can accomplish various benchmarks and milestones. I knew I had 90 days to work with, so I thought strategically about what I could realistically accomplish each month, whether it was solidifying a name, organizing focus groups, or launching a beta version of the platform, each stage or phase was outlined before I began the fellowship. As you are going through the application process consider this the beginning stage of building your strategy.

What did you do during your fellowship?

I spent most of the fellowship designing and developing TXT CONNECT with co-designers in informal focus group settings. We met once or twice a week for 3 months. I also spent a good deal of time consulting with designers, partners, organizers, and lawyers to help think through development and towards implementation. Overall, I spent most of my time listening to other people and redesigning accordingly.