By Zedilson Almeida

We knew that participating in the Jamlab Accelerator Programme could impact our startup, but we did not anticipate how one simple action would change our minds entirely.

Prior to being accepted into the programme, we at Manifexto already had what we believed to be a robust roadmap. Since 2017, we have launched the news aggregator and a news clipping service and are about to launch a tool to allow independent journalists to write about what they care most about within Manifexto and be paid for the traffic they generate. To top it off, and since tackling fake news has been encoded in our DNA since the inception of Manifexto, we have always been envisioned a way of offering our readers a way of verifying the veracity of the news, which consumed much of our time and effort.

After the first couple of weeks in the programme we were challenged by our mentor Phillip Mogodi, to stop looking at Manifexto and all its parts as a whole and single product but dividing it into smaller products and treating them as sub-products or even sub-startups.

It was important in financial terms to gain a better picture and pinpoint which products are losing money and which are raking in money. We found this to be important as it helps management to make better and faster decisions, ultimately leading to more revenue and growth, while also dramatically cutting costs.

Image: Supplied

While cutting costs and increasing revenue streams is always ideal, perhaps one of the most important aspects of this new approach was the ability to treat each sub-product as an independent piece and exponentially increasing its potential. This was possible because when looking at the products independently, one does not have to follow preexisting narratives or models. If one has a bigger picture in mind, there is less flexibility to achieve that goal, while when one has an independent part there are a lot more possibilities and freedom to apply different options, thus being open to discover a whole new world of opportunities.

Considering the fact-checking aspect of Manifexto in an independent way allowed us to dramatically change our model, its deployment, inclusiveness, and reach. Our plan always has been to deploy a fact-checking mechanism within Manifexto. This was hindering its potential and not really easing the pain of the public. After this experience, we devised a comprehensive application of the fact-checker, which will allow for anyone, in any part of the world to interact with the tool, again not embedded in Manifexto, and quickly have any news article analysed and receive the result: true or false.

Our team has immediately made the necessary modifications to make this dream a reality and we are really engaged and believe this new tool to be available for everyone soon.

The JamLab Accelerator is a six-month hothouse programme for journalism and media innovators. It is based at Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct in the heart of Johannesburg.


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