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'Old media' skills aid start-up in US

An Australian entrepreneur is using old media skills to disrupt new media thinking in the United States and hoping to prove that - maybe - everything old is new again.

An Australian entrepreneur is using old media skills to disrupt new media thinking in the United States and hoping to prove that - maybe - everything old is new again.

Sarah Bryden-Brown says skills learnt while a journalist and editor of Family Circle and Donna Hay magazines in Australia give her an edge in the hyper-competitive start-up scene in the US.

Based in New York for the past four years, Bryden-Brown heads, a start-up that is part blog portal, part social network and part advertiser heaven. The site calls on users to list their life goals and then document - blog style - the highs and lows of trying to achieve them. Users can also connect with each other for motivation.

"Using bloggers as a publishing strategy gives you an audience that is devoted and defined," Bryden-Brown said. "The blogging community is a publishing force. In America, there are 30 million of them. Not every one of those will reach a ton of people but en masse their voices are being listened to. If you can bring in data around their interaction with audiences, for me, that is the sweet spot for brands."

A third party attempting to leverage blog readership is not original - see The Huffington Post as example No. 1 - but changing how that content is used may be.

"We have 4500 members who reach 30 million people through their own audiences, their own blogs, and their own social media," Bryden-Brown said.

Her two partners are writers and bloggers rather than coders. Maggie Mason, based in San Francisco, has had her shopping blog named by Time magazine as one of its Top 50 Cool Sites of the Year and Best Shopping Site by Forbes. Laura Mayes, who lives in Texas is an Emmy-winning writer and founder of Camp Mighty. The spinoff is a networking convention for users that features motivational talks.

According to Bryden-Brown, concept is initially more important than computer code. She points to Pinterest founder Ben Silbermann, who had no engineering background despite a stint in Google's ad department, as inspiration.

"I think the balance in terms of what I use every day is 90 per cent old media and 10 per cent digital. Now, I really understand the value of the old media skill sets. There are not many people who understand both."

Investor and lawyer Nick Abrahams, of global law firm, Norton Rose Fulbright, agrees.

"Hard coding skills are not essential for a successful internet business," he says. "They can be bought in. What is critical is deep domain expertise of the area you are trying to disrupt."

He said Australians are tenacious and have good ideas for global businesses, but in the US it's all about the power of one's network.

In Australia, Bryden-Brown was director of content and community for It sold to News Corp for $48 million in 2011. has recently signed a deal with Tourism Australia and also has Procter & Gamble, Bing, Lands' End and Old Navy as advertisers.

"In traditional media you tell the readers what they need to know, the magazine is supposed to be the expert," Bryden-Brown said. "Online it is the other way around. You take the lead from the way users use your site. I had to follow their lead and just get it out there."

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