The sixth edition of DW Akademie’s media start-up incubation program has ended. Five Tunisian startups completed the journey and are now part of the MEDIA LOVES TECH network.
The media incubation program MEDIA LOVES TECH bridges two worlds that are often too far apart: Journalism and the startup community. To achieve this, the program supports Tunisian media startups by providing a variety of tools to turn their innovative ideas into business-viable solutions that will be ready for the market.
After a three-month incubation period, MEDIA LOVES TECH’s sixth edition ended in December. Yaluna, an online solutions journalism magazine, received top prize at the closing ceremony held in Tunis. All five participating teams, however, are now part of the MEDIA LOVES TECH ecosystem.
“This year’s teams were really good,” explained MEDIA LOVES TECH program manager Paul Schütte. “This time, we only selected seven teams, but really focused on them. These teams really have a shot to survive in the ‘real’ world.”
Although all teams that made it into the final round presented relevant and viable products, there could only be one winner. The expert jury unanimously selected Yaluna. Founded in 2021, the news outlet reports on current affairs, the environment, health, art, technology and much more - but always from a solutions-oriented angle.
“During the pandemic, we founded Yaluna in Tunis, when we realized that there was a need for news told from a positive and more constructive angle,” said founder Aziz Chouabi.
Founder Aziz Chaibibi of Yaluna, a solutions-oriented news outlet, produces constructive journalism for Tunisia
Yaluna was awarded prize money to continue their entrepreneurial journey.
"Giving the grand prize to Yaluna rewards extremely useful work that counters distrust and disinterest in the media,” said Natascha Schwanke, DW Akademie’s director of media development. “Yaluna is the concept of a positive approach to information, something that motivates and inspires. Like anywhere else in the world, Tunisia can only benefit from what Yaluna offers. Furthermore, their explanatory and educational approach is one that resonates with DW Akademie. Their contribution to convey knowledge in a constructive manner is fun and engaging."
The other teams of founders presented equally relevant solutions. Arkam, for example, is a platform that collects public data and makes it accessible, while the platform Banet covers women’s health from a variety of angles. The Deep Confessions podcast breaks down mental health issues, and Verex has developed an AI-powered information verification tool.
Since the start of MEDIA LOVES TECH in 2018, 52 teams have finished the incubation program and many have success stories, which DW Akademie’s new publication “Media Loves Tech. Impact Stories” highlights.
It is often said that more than 90 percent of startups fail in the first two years. Still, startups are often seen as economic development drivers, and as stimulating the overall economy. Even if every initiative does not succeed, their traces can still be found in the ecosystem.
Zahra Nedjabat, head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at DW and member of this year’s jury, emphasized the importance and value that the varied tools bring to the region.
“It's very encouraging to see the MEDIA LOVES TECH initiatives which emerge in a context of adversity of both structural and economic nature,” Nedjabat said. “With the support of digital tools, the teams are developing solutions on a variety of essential subjects: Access to information, solutions journalism, mental health, women's education and even the use of AI. MEDIA LOVES TECH's portfolio is truly rich in skills.”
Through the three-month incubation program, the media start-ups endure a challenging curriculum focused on business and audience development, along with financial viability. It has also added an e-learning platform, offering online resources and coaching sessions with experts on demand.
“We have witnessed the evolution of the project within the past five years,” said Ines Cheniour, a design thinking consultant and MEDIA LOVES TECH mentor and coach. “We always try to give the best coaching experience possible to the participants to give them new perspectives.”
The MEDIA LOVES TECH team is excited to see what’s next for the startups. Some may continue their journey with DW Akademie by obtaining more support through the media acceleration program MEDIA PARCOURS. The team is already looking forward to welcoming new ideas and start-up teams in the next project cycle.
“In MEDIA LOVES TECH we want to spread optimism, just like Yaluna does,” said Schütte. “We want to make a difference.”
Since 2023, both MEDIA LOVES TECH and MEDIA PARCOURS are part of the SMART MEDIA ACCELERATOR, a DW Akademie initiative. Its goal is to identify and support media startups in the prototyping phase and strengthen already established media. SMART MEDIA ACCELERATOR is part of the "On en parle ! Tunisie 360°" project financed by the European Union and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. The MEDIA LOVES TECH program is developed in cooperation with Al Khatt, a Tunisian organization working for freedom of the press and expression that aims to be a laboratory of ideas on the future of journalism in the digital age.