In 2009, Christopher Wink joined hands with two other fellow undergrads in starting a tech blog that has morphed into Technically Media, which today publishes local tech news and runs events networks in five U.S. cities, all on the East Coast.
Wink wears multiple hats – as a journalist that of the ultimate pessimist, and as an entrepreneur that of an eternal optimist. This dual role has defined both Technically’s journalism as well as its business, as he bids to build a sustainable media company.
“We want to go somewhere because we think we can have impact not because it looks pretty on a map. I think our footprint can expand under the logic that we are doing it for the right reasons and I am a naïve believer in the long-term benefit of doing what is right,” Wink, who studied political science at Temple University, told citybizlist in an interview.
“I do not talk about months I talk about years. I probably have since I was eight years old. I am not interested in short-term impact. I do everything forever,” he added.
Wink also runs the social impact site Generocity.org and sits on the boards of on the nonprofit youth coding program Coded by Kids, the project-based Workshop School, and the Pen and Pencil Club.
CHRIS WINK: I am Christopher Wink. I am the cofounder and editorial director of Technically, a network of local technology news sites.
EDWIN WARFIELD: You were a staff writer at the Temple News, 2004 to 2007, intern at Philadelphia Business Journal, 2007 to 2008, then a freelance journalist. All three cofounders had met at journalism school at Temple University. You were unable to find jobs so you launched your own site. Tell us about the launch and vision for Technical.ly?
CHRIS WINK: At the beginning, we were not entrepreneurs, we were scared and desperate but very clear in knowing what we wanted to be and what we wanted to do, and that was to do work that had an impact on the communities we cared about.
Sean Blanda, Brian Kirk and I we were three undergrads who met, (and) started a small side project. All we wanted to do was see if we could basically create jobs for ourselves doing journalism and we did that at a small scale. Sean, a dear and close friend, had hit that goal and was ready to move on to other things. My cofounder Brian and I very much talk about this next generation.
Our small side project was really nothing more than a blog site Technically Philly and we launched what for us looks a lot more like Technically today. That was the idea of a network of local technology news sites doing business reporting in a meaningful way, about economic change in local communities, and we have been doing that since.
EDWIN WARFIELD: How has the journey been from writing on entrepreneurs to becoming an entrepreneur?
CHRIS WINK: Brian and I have learned a lot of lessons about entrepreneurship. We are blessed that we have for years been reporting on entrepreneurship. So we talked to some of the most interesting, meaningful founders and business leaders in a half-dozen mid-Atlantic communities. So we have been able to learn from the best. But the reality is that entrepreneurship is far more a mindset than a skill set. You have to think about how to approach solving a problem for the best and do it in an efficient way that can make a long-term impact.
Brian and I are by no stretch definitionally entrepreneurs, or at least in our beginnings. Instead we've gotten there the long way and that is wanting to do and build a company that we thought was both sustainable and had meaningful impact. That is where we are today.
From the very outset our coverage was a mix of venture-backed tech startups but also workforce development. How do people get into positions of power? It was stories of individual technologists, the actual makers and who they were as people. It was stories of access and local policies. At the very outset our editorial mix did not look like the press release rehash of venture-backed startups, which defines much of technical reporting for the last 10 years (and one) that has become buzzier.
At the outset it probably was like all things a mix of our founding interests. I had interest in business reporting and government politics, how we have economic change, sustain it and make it meaningful for the most people. And my cofounder Brian was far more interested in technology. I will say often that I have no predisposition or interest in technology. That is not my interest at all. I run a tech site because I think it can do a lot of important things for cities I care about. I am interested in people. Technology for me is a tool and nothing more. I am not interested in technology for technology’s sake and that is probably a point that I would encourage a lot of entrepreneurs to think about, what do you actually care about and do not lose sight of that.
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