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Planet Ivy - an Interview with Founder Vincent Dignan

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by Startacus Admin

Conceived by young entrepreneur Vincent Dignan in his bedroom, Planet Ivy is a pinch of toilet humour, a bit tongue in cheek, a mix of satire and a dash of poetic excellence and licence. But there's nothing funny about this online platform’s success.

Whilst being born with an aim to find the most outrageous and thought-provoking stories on the web, and with a team of young, adventurous Planet Ivy Vincent Dignanjournalists delivering those stories, this platform is currently staking a claim as a serious and alternative voice in the news / current affairs online space.

We wanted to chat to Vincent Dignan about how he came up with the concept behind Planet Ivy and to see how this disruptive startup is growing a global audience. So we did, and here’s our interview:

So, let’s go back to the start. How was the idea behind Planet Ivy conceived?

Planet Ivy started in my bedroom. I dreamt I was looking through a magazine where the writers were the stars, not musicians or actors. I was finding a lot of great writers scattered all over the web who weren't getting any attention and wanted to change that. I also felt that, Vice aside, no-one was creating intelligent, fun, content written by and for young people. I very quickly found other writers who felt they didn't have a platform to write on, and were frustrated that no-one outside their social network saw their writing.

Whats the gap that your online magazine fills and who is your target demographic?

I hate to use the term Generation Y, but they're really bored with old media. Someone in a suit reporting the facts in a dry, stale format doesn't speak to a young audience. There's very little room for immersive writing, and our writers are given freedom to tell the story in their own voice. We are aware of legal and do keep to the facts, but our writers create really engaging content that resonates with young people - that's all that matters to us.

Making money from online mags can be tough going, how have you found commercialising your platform?

There are plenty of companies who want to help is monetise or that we currently have dealings with - we reach a very desired audience who don't use traditional media - they don't watch TV, read print magazines, or listen to radio. Everything they do is online, so why wouldn't we focus on them online? First and foremost, we want to build something people want to use. Watching many hundreds of thousands of unique users flood into our Google Analytics is a really good feeling!

Planet IvyLooking at your Alexa rating, you have a good audience in the UK, but also seem to be pulling in a sizeable audience globally. How have you managed to drive traffic from all over the world to your site?

We currently haven't spent any money on PR or marketing - most of our visitors hit our site through social traffic and through other sites. Our articles have been republished or sources on sites like The Guardian, Gawker, Buzzfeed, Yahoo!, MSN, The Daily Dot - all sites which have huge American audiences. Likewise, a huge number of Facebook and Twitter users hit our site via those social networks.

Again, it comes back to creating something people want. If you rely on social the way we do, you better be creating awesome content that people want to share.

What other online sites do you look up to and also who would you see as your direct competition within the target audience you are aiming at?

We are partnered with Vice, and are fans of what they do, particularly in video. Sick Chirpse have some cool ideas too, but sadly very few content sites, particularly written content, sites, are being founded by young people. It really makes a difference in the people they hire. It may sound like an odd thing for me to say, but I really hope more content sites are started by young people.

I really like The Kernel too - we don't do too many tech articles but they do a great job of making technology journalism readable and exciting.

What’s next for Planet Ivy - any plans you can share with Startacus on what you plan to do next?

Our overall aim is to reward social sharing - a writer got paid £140 for his 1st article last month and we want to increase that as ultimately that is what writers want.

We'll be working with Mic Wright of the XX Committee on creating content for brands and events. We share a goal of aiming to get as many writers as possible paid for what they do. We aim to be the bridge between writers and people who need content, carving out opportunities and hustling cool opportunities. We worked together at Web Summit in Dublin producing The Peak, a real-time content magazine online and in print, and I ended up interviewing both Tony Hawk and  the Irish Taoiseach, Enda Kelly, which I didn't expect! We're throwing a huge party soon, and Planet Ivy itself has some major plans which I can't reveal just yet!

Thanks for the great interview Vincent!

You might be interested to know that Vincent has recently launched a brand new business called 'Magnific' an innovative content writing service that connects readers, writers and curators for a more personalised reading experience. They have just been selected to take part in the much sought after TechStars London accelerator so watch this space for more information soon.

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Published on: 20th November 2013

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