Eric Ortiz Knight Talk at Stanford

Meeting Eric Ortiz – CEO and founder of Evrybit

“Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail. There’s only make.”

These are the words of John Cage, a pioneering 20th Century American composer. Eric believes this philosophy is the foundation of any innovative organization.

I am meeting with Eric at Stanford where he did a Knight Fellowship in the 2013-14 academic year, 16 years after graduating from Stanford in 1997. Read here how happy he felt with this chance.

He is the founder of the startup Evrybit, a mobile-first platform for multimedia and collaborative storytelling on smartphones.

I am talking to him about how he got here and where he is going from here.

Eric Ortiz Knight Talk at Stanford

Eric Ortiz Knight Talk at Stanford

“I come from a family of barbers. If the natural order of the universe meant following in the footsteps of forebears, I would have been Edward Scissorhands.”

“However, you changed the natural order,” I say.

“I sure did. As a third-generation Mexican-American, I had different aspirations: I wanted to graduate from a four-year university and play free safety in the NFL. Considering no one in my family had ever finished community college, playing pro football seemed as realistic as earning a degree.

“Dreaming big is in my DNA. Any time anyone said I couldn’t do something, I believed I could even more.”

“You did not make it to the NFL, did you?” I ask.

“No indeed. I broke my neck playing freshman football in high school. The doctor said my football career was over. The words were a punch to the gut. My dream of NFL glory was dead. All of a sudden, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. For the first time, I felt powerless.”

“That must have been tough, then what did you do?”

“After some years of not knowing what I wanted, I got into Stanford. I walked on to the baseball team. I graduated with a degree in English. Even after graduating, I didn’t know what I wanted to do.

“In the spring of 2000, I left Los Angeles with a one-way train ticket to Seattle. I had no idea I was embarking on a journalism career. I was simply searching for a new beginning.”

“And?” I ask.

“The move paid off.

“I hadn’t been able to define what I wanted to be because the position didn’t exist. The Internet wasn’t part of mainstream culture. Being a digital editor was inconceivable. Once the Web became viable, I knew I wanted to work online. Soon after arriving in Seattle, I landed my first job in journalism as an assistant editor at ESPN.com  in July 2000.

“I have spent the past 15 years building on my foundations of journalism and learning how to make smart content accessible. I was the founding editor of New England Sports Network’s website (NESN.com) in 2008 and have played a part in producing thousands of pieces of content.”

“That must have been quite a learning curve, what were your main take-outs?” I ask.

“Being the first to do anything is a risk, but the payoff for being a leader is great. I have always preferred being bold.

“I have learned to seize opportunities as they present themselves. I viewed the Knight Fellowship at Stanford as another life-changing opportunity.

“The future possibilities inspire me. Before I’m through with my career, I want to make a tangible contribution to journalism beyond sports.”

Eric Ortiz at 2014 NAHJ Convention

Eric Ortiz at 2014 NAHJ Convention

“How do you see the role of journalism in the future?” I ask.

“I believe journalism can reshape the world. My entire career has been spent on the Internet. I have evolved with online media coverage as the Web has grown in power, influence and wealth. I understand the way the digital world works and want to lead another advance in journalism.

“During the Stanford Knight Fellowship, I transitioned to media entrepreneurship as the founder and CEO of Evrybit, and I am now focused on innovative storytelling.

“I developed a working prototype of this mobile-first publishing system, Evrybit, while exploring how to create sustainable journalism, with a focus on transmedia storytelling, community journalism and professionalizing crowdsourcing.”

“How would you describe Evrybit in one sentence?”

“Evrybit is a mobile-first publishing platform that streamlines live reporting, collaborative storytelling and multimedia production on smartphones.

“This was the idea when I came to the fellowship, determined to make it a reality, and I worked to turn the concept into a prototype.

“Following the Knight Fellowship, I moved to Santa Monica, where I reside with my wife and three young children. I’m excited to be part of the burgeoning Los Angeles tech startup ecosystem.

Eric Ortiz in Prague

Eric in Prague with his wife

“I now have a team of developers in the U.S., Bolivia and Chile working on Evrybit, which we began alpha testing in the spring of 2014. We began private beta testing last summer with professional news organizations and individual athletes and have created dozens of stories over the past six months. We continue to ramp up product development and are working to refine Evrybit.

“And what are the next steps?” I ask.

“We plan to launch our minimum viable product (MVP) in Spring 2015. Our goal is to revolutionize the way stories are told and turn Evrybit into a successful business.

“I’m determined to make it easier for anyone with a smartphone to create and share multimedia coverage of events, from a child’s birthday party to a major, breaking news story. Our mission is to better inform the world.”

“I’m no longer afraid of failing. My biggest fear now is not succeeding enough.”

Click here to watch Eric’s Knight Talk

 

Tags: CoolBrands People, #CoolBrandsPeople, Meeting Eriz Ortiz, Eric Ortiz, Evrybit, #EricOrtiz, #Evrybit

Eric Ortiz - CoolBrands People

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