If you are an entrepreneur - I am handing this one to you on a silver plate.
Just about every week I get an inquiry from someone to start their own version of Spot.Us. From up North (Canada) to down South (Brazil) and all the way over to Australia. I've gotten requests on how Spot.Us can expand to new regions. So here it is....
The code for spot.us is 100% open source.
(Technically I haven't slapped an OS license on it. But I will.. promise. And in the meantime, this is a poor man's version of it: "you can use the code.")
I wanted to wait until I had some more features to do this post. And now - those features are ready. Since we are also in the Chronicle today - I figure it is a good time to give away any secret sauce we might have.
What this means:
- We have absorbed 90-95% of the cost to start your own community funded reporting site.
- It can be nonprofit or for-profit. You could end up making LOTS of money if it works for you! .... just don't forget to hire me ;)
- I'll help. If somebody is very serious about this - I will get on the phone or even meet in person to talk about how you can do this.
The steps and the general costs
- Download the spot.us code: Which has lots of new features!!!. Cost = $0
- Buy a URL: cost = $10
- Get hosting: cost = a few hundo's a month. Use Amazon EC2 to save some money.
- Get a merchant account (also need a payment gateway): A few hundo's on installation + about 3% off every credit card transaction. You can use PayPal to save on installation and if you are a nonprofit Google Checkout will save you the 3% credit card charge.
- Get up and running: You'll have to hire a Ruby on Rails person to install the code from step one and sync it up with the merchant account in step four. A good RoR developer can cost up to $140 an hour. But they won't have to do any heavy lifting - so somebody who is adequate (maybe $70-$80 an hour will do). Total cost: anywhere from $0 if you call in a favor to $1,000 - still relatively cheap in context.
- Find some reporters.
- Or: Just put up pitches yourself - as we've started doing on Spot.Us. If you raise enough money - then I gauruntee, you'll find reporters.
- Go forth and report.
- Put up a pitch that is really a beat: "I will cover city hall in town X for Y months. If we can raise Z dollars by time this is done - I'll continue coverage for another Y months.
Feel free to contact me: david at spot dot us.
Why would I give this away?
- I am young and naive.
- It will make me look good if others try it.
- I believe in it.
- I’m required to by the terms of my grant from
Knight Foundation ;)
So if you are serious - get in contact with me. I'll give you a tutorial on the admin interface of the site and we can talk strategy.