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Welcome to the New EQ
Dear EQ Readers,
Today I am proud to introduce you to the brand new EQ website.
In Print: Over the last 18 months I’ve been working to modernize and transform the EQ brand. My goal throughout has been to radically rethink EQ’s product suite and business model from being “an out-of-print magazine with a website” into a truly integrated digital publishing brand experience: “In Print, In-Person and Online.”
In-Person: Last Tax Day, on April 15th 2019, with the indispensable help of a dozen tirelessly patient collaborators (properly acknowledging them is deserving of its own article, so forgive me for sparing everyone the details now) we launched phase one of the brand transformation: EQ’s “in-person” product and our first-ever conference, Leadership Labs.
Online: As this year’s Tax Day was deferred until July 15th, I’ve had a little extra time to launch the second phase of the brand transformation: EQ’s “online” product revamp.
Built by Tenacity, a St. Louis website design agency, this elegant new site design loads at warp speed and looks great on mobile phones. Together, we’ve eliminated 5000 pages of noise and pared EQ down to 2000 pages of pure signal about the startup scene in St. Louis.
By now you might have also noticed a new domain name too: entrepreneurquarterly.com (we’re going global, baby!)
What you may not have noticed yet is:
New St. Louis Startup Ecosystem Map
Historically, EQ’s online publication evolved separately to the magazine rather than under a single joined up strategy, which meant that feature creep started to, um… creep in.
For instance, there were two versions of our startup ecosystem maps; where one was more like an explainer infographic and the other was an actual map using geolocation data. Given that St. Louis is set to become a leading player in the geospatial industry, it just made sense to settle on making EQ’s St. Louis Startup Ecosystem Map an actual map.
And it’s one huge map! Every description and location has been updated, with the overall presentation of the map improved with new colors and a new layout that showcases hand-curated video introductions to all of the organizations listed.
Even better, it’s now easier to navigate and swipe on mobile. A segmented view of the entire St. Louis Startup Ecosystem Map is embedded into every Ecosystem Guide, so you can quickly narrow down what you’re looking for.
Every location on the map now links to an ecosystem page on EQ, where you can learn more about the organization mentioned, check out their recent coverage, and see if they’re hiring or hosting any events. Currently, St. Louis startups themselves are not listed on the map, but that is in development as we speak.
Nonetheless, every St. Louis Startup that has been written about on EQ has their own ecosystem page. If you’re a startup founder, just search your startup name in the EQ search box (or search Google) and find a story mentioning your company: you can jump directly into these exosystem pages from every article via the “Mentioned in this Article” section.
Ecosystem pages are designed to be easily shareable within the community, like digital business cards that give readers a quick sense of what you’ve been up to lately. As they list only the jobs and events which you alone are promoting, you can share on social media can or link to it in your email signature as a mini job board.
Six new “classified ad” spots on your ecosystem page, mean you can also spotlight a variety of other initiatives you’d like to draw people’s attention to. Published a new research paper? Offering a discount code? Got an app? Link it all up.
Every classified ad can be customized with an icon, a 20 character message and a link. Use your own tracking link to measure clicks, or EQ can do it for you.
Returning in 2020 is EQ’s St. Louis Startup Job Board. Formerly called TEQjobs and powered by PluggedIn, we’ve simplified our job board in recognition of the fact that our users want to manage their own applicant registration data.
So, our focus instead has been on generating more exposure to your job listings in general. Where before EQ’s jobs listings were controlled by a third party, and displayed on a separate domain which did not gain visibility from our overall SEO strategy, now when you feature a job on EQ, you’ll not only get visibility in our email newsletters and job search engine but also on every article too.
As any hiring manager or HR expert will tell you, this is great news for attracting the high-quality talent to your startup. Featured job listings that are embedded in articles mean you can easily reach valuable “passive job seekers” too: namely, those potential candidates who are not actively searching for a job right now, but might consider switching roles if they stumble upon the right career opportunity.
Also returning in 2020 is the St. Louis Startup Event Calendar. Previously, I had to shut this down because it got spammed incessantly and managing it became more hassle than it was worth.
A hard truth EQ had to face was that event calendar automation just doesn’t work because most calendar XML feeds are just useless; full of placeholder information and little else. I also learned that new members of the startup ecosystem were turning up to events that no one was managing, or hosts were charging fees for falsely advertised events, which I felt I couldn’t direct people to in good faith.
Therefore, EQ is no longer offering free listings: to list your event you must be a verified EQ Network member. It’s the only way I can accommodate the costs of verifying and posting the information, but to sweeten the deal, the new EQ website design exponentially increases the exposure of event ads, as they now feature in the newsletter and on every article too.
New St. Louis Startup Ecosystem Guides
Like the map, EQ’s St. Louis Startup Ecosystem Guides were originally designed as “print-first” experiences, which were then posted to the site as PDF of scanned magazine pages. Although very popular, they didn’t work well on mobile phones, which emerged as problematic and in urgent need of a fix.
After attending some meetings of the St. Louis Equity in Entrepreneurship Collective, it became apparent to me that EQ’s guides working on mobile phones could become a barrier to Equity in Entrepreneurship. That’s all fixed now – phew!
An interesting challenge that I had to grapple with in the new design is information hierarchy versus user behavior. Print design affords completely different possibilities to designing for phone screens, in terms of structuring a hierarchy of information and conveying connections between data points, while online/mobile users tend to suffer from “scroll fatigue.”
In terms of information design, what this means is that screens, in general (but mobile screens especially), tend to unintentionally lock-in an information hierarchy, which unconsciously has an impact on users. Put simply, whatever is at the top of the screen is taken to be the most important item.
So, with that in mind, it’s been a huge challenge to adapt these assets into a useful online experience. By far the most difficult aspect was re-categorizing over 2000 entities, checking they’re still active and working out where whether they accurately describe what they do.
For example, many entrepreneur support organizations have multiple aspects to their operations, such that they can be simultaneously a business incubator and a coworking space, or a startup competition and an accelerator, or an accelerator and a venture capital firm. To avoid duplication and make the guides accessible rather than unwieldy, some consolidation had to take place.
Most organizations are now primarily only listed in the single category that is most immediately useful to a new entrepreneur. The good news is that means there are now more guides, all of which are listed under the St. Louis tab in the new global navigation bar.
What this all means to you is that EQ’s guides should not be taken to be “unbiased” or even “accurate”, and instead they should be understood for what they really are: “robust” and “editorialized.” Editorialized means that the order in which the information is displayed is consciously chosen, so much so as to reflect an “opinion” or “comment” on the ecosystem.
Who’s opinion is that? Well, yours truly (mine). So, can you trust my opinion? Well, honestly, who knows.
What I can tell you is that as a five-time startup founder (not as impressive as it sounds, that’s a lot of “failing fast”) who is a heavy user of St. Louis’ startup resources, and after personally editing the entire EQ archive of over 1600 articles and re-structuring content in 108 categories by hand to deliver you this website, I feel that I am in a good position to make well-informed recommendations.
And that’s it! That’s the maximum philosophical extent to which you can trust me. Beyond that, you’ll have to make your own decisions.
You’ll see a lot more about our commitment to media literacy in forthcoming announcements but, for now, that disclaimer alone represents EQ brand values in a nutshell. There’s no right answer and the path forward is complicated; as EQ looks to expand nationally, starting here and now: STL means “Stand Together and Lead.”