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Inspirational Female Founder Spotlight: Naomi Owusu

Naomi Owusu is Co-Founder and CEO at Tickaroo. Her company-founding goal was to make live reporting accessible to everyone. Her role at Tickaroo is to increase international growth and enable partners to reach their audiences and goals while promoting positive change within the digital media landscape. Alongside her responsibilities at Tickaroo and family life, Naomi is also studying venture capitalism and private equity at Columbia Business School.

Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?

My background in organisational development and psychology, and experience of helping major corporations in the sports and news industries navigate digital transformation, moulded my passion to empower individuals and enterprises to reach new heights in digital media production. This led to the creation of Tickaroo.

Tickaroo is a leader in news and sports media solutions, providing seamless, user-friendly solutions that empower publishers and news agencies to thrive in the fast-paced world of digital content delivery. Its live blogging software is used by some of the most well-known media houses and publishers around the world, including Süddeutsche Zeitung, Mediahuis, Der Spiegel, Stuff, as well as the German, Swiss, and Austrian Press Agencies.

How did the idea come to you for the company?

Having worked at a software agency for seven years guiding major organisations in the sports and news sectors through digital transformation, my co-founders and I were motivated to harness this experience to tackle the common challenge faced by European News Corporations – the need to deliver real-time, reliable news and sports data to clients.

Our overarching goal was to optimise the user experience and empower publishers to thrive by enhancing audience engagement. We want to shape the future of live reporting and transform how information is delivered and consumed.

Starting with a focus on sports, we swiftly expanded our reach into the news industry. Adapting and growing, we developed our product to offer newsrooms an intuitive live content management system (CMS) app that was easy to use, adept at handling incoming information, and featured an appealing, state-of-the-art interface for audiences.

How did you achieve awareness?

We started by pitching specific markets and key players within those markets – going directly to large publishers to present our software in person and building personal relationships. By doing so we were able to listen to their challenges and concerns and continue to build our software that truly met the needs of our target audience.

To support this we also conducted PR activity in relevant publications to create brand and product awareness. After securing our first key accounts, we were able to build a reputation in the sports and news industry leveraging client references and recommendations.

How have you been able to gain funding and grow?

We were able to raise around 1 million Euro in 2015/16 in two rounds with the same strategic investor. We are now profitable, so able to invest in our own growth.

What are the key successes?

Our customer successes are our success. Client data shows that Tickaroo’s liveblogs have a 8.6x higher retention rate than conventional articles.

During the 2023 Nigerian presidential elections, African insight and data provider Stears achieved a 1039% increase in engagement using our platform. The Aschendorff Group (Westfälische Nachrichten) experiences more than 3x more impressions on their live sports coverage. At Süddeutsche Zeitung, seven out of 10 of the most-read articles in 2023 were liveblogs about the war in Ukraine, hitting 4.3m users between 22 February and 1 March 2022. In Stuff’s coverage of the Taylor Swift ticket purchasing frenzy in Australia, they garnered more than 500 comments on their live coverage. The Austrian Press Agency’s Ukraine liveblog coverage achieved 3.3m users across seven media websites, totaling 9m page views and maintaining user engagement of around six minutes.

What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?

Despite our prior agency experience programming news and sports apps for major news corporations, establishing a new news format such as the live blog presented significant challenges. Traditional formats like articles and blogs were predominant, with real-time updates primarily reserved for sports news. Publishers, at the outset, relied heavily on traffic and reach from social media or Google, with little consideration for brand conflicts, trust issues, or the risk of losing audiences to more engaging formats.

Despite these obstacles, we garnered early adopters who witnessed not only an increase in traffic but also improvements in retention and monetisation. However, as industry giants like Meta, Google, and Twitter engaged in a battle for reach with publishers over curated news, more publishers reverted to original content on their platforms, emphasising their authentic formats. Amidst this landscape, audiences had become accustomed to news feeds and scrolling, making the liveblog the primary alternative for displaying curated, authentic news updates directly on publishers’ sites. This shift has resulted in a substantial surge in our subscriptions.

What are your plans now/for the future?

This year, elections will be a key focus for us. With over 70 taking place worldwide, liveblogging is a crucial coverage tool, enabling publishers to provide local updates in real-time, incorporate multi-media and social media and adapt content based on live feedback and questions. The ability to deliver reliable content in a snackable format combats shorter attention spans, generates better reader engagement and retention, and rivals social media news feeds.

We are therefore working closely with clients to develop more features and resources, including harnessing the power of AI, to support journalists around the world to cover these fast-paced stories in ways that allow them to connect and build trust with their audiences.

I am also committed to helping ensure representation of both youth and diversity across newsrooms. With diversity in the newsroom an increasingly important element of promoting consumer trust, it’s vital that new talent also represents diverse backgrounds. Moreover, young journalists provide a great deal of value in the newsroom, and should be recognised and supported to progress. That is why we often partner with Universities to enable them to offer their students access to the platform to experiment with the Tickaroo Live Blog Software.

What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?

The entrepreneurial journey is an exciting yet challenging journey. The route is littered with countless decisions, obstacles, and sleepless nights. But there is nothing better than building your own successful business and making your dream a reality, knowing that your hard work has finally paid off. The overwhelming sense of pride makes all the stress and long hours worthwhile.

Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?

  1. Passion is Your North Star – Passion is the fuel that keeps you going through the challenges, deadlines, and sleepless nights. It’s the key to building the resilience needed to overcome hurdles.
  • Build a Robust Support Network – Surrounding yourself with people who believe in your vision, offer inspiration, and contribute constructive ideas will be key to staying focused and motivated in the face of scepticism and naysayers.
  • Celebrate Successes – Success is a journey and acknowledging milestones is vital for long-term growth. Reflecting on achievements big and small not only boosts morale but also fosters a positive and motivated team environment.
  • Embrace Failure as a Learning Opportunity – Learning from mistakes accelerates the growth and development of yourself and the company. Establish a culture where failure is openly discussed and viewed as a stepping stone to improvement.
  • Don’t Reinvent the Wheel – Tech entrepreneurs often find themselves tempted to build everything from scratch. However, the quest for perfection can be costly and time-consuming. Utilise existing tools and services for accounting, project management, and other operational needs so you can focus on your core business objectives without getting sidetracked.
  • Be Transparent About Profit Centres – Regularly assess business strategy and financial performance and don’t shy away from pivoting or adjusting strategies based on both profitable and underperforming aspects of your business. There’s no shame in changing direction; flexibility and adaptability are key to long-term success.
  • Embrace the “Too Crazy” Ideas – Entrepreneurship, especially in tech, thrives on innovation. Don’t be afraid to pursue ideas that may seem too edgy or risky initially. Being ahead of the market is essential for long-term success.

Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?

It’s very hard to choose as I meet so many interesting people and hear so many great stories, but generally speaking it is my friends and family who inspire me, and keep me motivated.

The writer Ben Horowitz, who wrote books such as The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz, has also really helped me on my entrepreneurial journey. And then there’s Taylor Swift – marketing genius and greatest storyteller alive!

What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?

“Boundaries are only in your head” – Byron Katie. In other words, when overcoming obstacles or challenges, the biggest limitation is ourselves.

“Everyone knew it was impossible, until a fool who didn’t know came along and did it.” – Albert Einstein

What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?  

Website: https://www.tickaroo.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/naomi-owusu/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/beeskneesnews

Instagram: https://instagram.com/tickaroo