Don’t FAQ with success.
What is Ignota Media?A
We’re a new-media startup building aesthetically, technically, and politically sophisticated publishing experiences for people and communities traditionally underrepresented in media.
Our mission is simple. We find and develop the most provocative, insightful, and engaging voices from historically marginalized communities, giving them access to resources, industry experience, and mutual connection that was impossible even five years ago.
What’s different about Ignota?A
Traditional publishing giants are slowly waking to the possibilities in underrepresented and marginalized voices; we are already there, nurturing their development with agile, responsive tools and technologies.
We’re not interested in dressing an ad-sales platform up in a thin veneer of relevance. We understand that true growth can only come from true innovation. We’ve assembled the technical, operational, and artistic expertise that allows us to architect and deploy the best tools and technologies of the modern web in the service of catalyzing and capacitating the innovation of content creators and consumers dissatisfied with and alienated by outmoded and unresponsive publishing and media institutions.
Why does publishing the underrepresented matter? What makes this worth pursuing?A
For the underrepresented, the world is a harsh proving-ground. Those who have thrived have gained a hard-won brilliance and perspective that can inform and nourish the development of art, literature, and technology that speaks to their experiences and so speaks to us all.
Our work promises tangible returns for investors as well as audiences. A diverse media ecosystem is vital to the health of the arts and the health of democracy. But in addition to founding and fomenting a more representative artistic paradigm, Ignota understands that those who regard present media institutions from the fringes, who know firsthand locked doors and exclusions, are the very voices required to drive media and technology forward. Our experiences pinpoint and articulate where extant vision and praxis have failed, and where reinvigorated technical, commercial, and artistic growth will be most impactful.
How does Ignota meet this need?A
Our experiences have given us world-class engineering, aesthetic, and editorial awareness, and a deep visibility in and into communities of creators on the margins. The relationships we’ve cultivated with the underrepresented allow us to curate and nurture the highest-quality content; while our technical acumen allows us to rapidly iterate on the needs of our content producers and channel them into ever more exquisite experiences for new and emerging audiences.
Is the market big enough for investment?A
Yes. Indeed, the markets to which we cater are among those most primed for investment.
Our historical moment is one in which a Black man can be elected to the Presidency but CNN will still howl that Michael Brown was a shoplifter, one in which marriage equality can clear the highest court in the land but the wave of homicides targeting trans people will barely crack national headlines—one in which the epoch-making political and juridical achievements of oppressed communities have thrown into sharp relief an ongoing crisis of representation. The promise of pop culture’s Huxtables and Wills and Graces—that there was room in the canon for stories from its margins; that some of these stories would even be told by us and to us instead of for us—has gone largely unfulfilled. To navigate the current media landscape as a woman, a person of color, a queer person, is to know this in one’s marrow, with a kind of inchoate intimacy.
That creators and consumers of culture crave an alternative is now no longer in dispute. Witness the reaction to BuzzFeed’s early-naughties coverage of the marriage movement, and later of Black Lives Matter; witness Teen Vogue on the ascendant. Readers flock to publications that treat of their worlds with reverence and conviction; writers thrill to the opportunity to make meaning. Serious engagement begets serious engagement.
Our hypothesis is that this pattern is repeatable and scalable. We can discover, delineate, and develop markets for publications purpose-built to reflect the distinctiveness of communities historically underrepresented in publishing, answering a need that’s become so pervasive it’s grown hard to see for meaningful media. In so doing, we establish a virtuous cycle: publishing for heretofore-undifferentiated markets crystalizes their definition, which furnishes us unique content and audiences, which allows us to publish such that we distinguish the market.
What kinds of projects does Ignota produce?A
Our first experiment, the eponymous Ignota Magazine, is an all-LGBTQ arts and culture journal that launched in February 2017. We have positioned Ignota precisely at the intersection of community, technology, and the arts, and expect it to take pride of place in proving out our capacity to fit new publishing experiences to new markets. A New Yorker for every queer reader and Black reader and beyond—there has already been interest in creating similarly mission-driven products for people of color and women within the next year.
As we grow, we expect to further showcase and expand the capabilities of our platform through video and audio production, interactive and virtual literary publication, mobile app experiences, and other engineering-augmented media as the demands and ambitions of our markets grow with us.
Who’s involved? What kind of experience do they have?A
We’re a highly diverse, web-native group of media polyglots with extensive industry experience and deep connections to our communities.
Daniel Shannon, our CEO, is a veteran of two startups who brings with him consummate proficiency as a full-stack engineer; in past lives, he has also served as a writer, editor, and founder at two literary publications and studied extensively the relationship between community and the arts. Merritt Kopas, our COO, is also the founder of a popular podcast network surfacing innovative work in underrepresented communities; she has also edited a Lambda Literary Award–nominated collection of essays and authored a number of interactive narrative experiences. Ryka Aoki, our Chief Content Offier, is a Lambda Literary Award–winning author and performer who has been honored by the State of California for her extraordinary commitment to enhancing the visibility of trans people.
Experiment, make it your motto day and night.
Ignota Media is driving our progress towards an egalitarian media landscape through a series of experiments in fitting innovative, mission-driven publishing products to underrepresented (and consequently underadvantaged) markets.
Our eponymous flagship publication is an all-LGBTQ literary and cultural journal dedicated to the distinctiveness of the queer artistic voice.
Ignota soft-launched in February 2017 to a strong response from queer-identified poets, fictionists and non-, videographers, photographers, painters, and other creators of all stripes, accruing over 1,000 Twitter followers, 400 dedicated newsletter subscribers, and 70 pitches within a few weeks. We are currently editing, designing, and developing the publication’s first issue, slated to launch in May 2017.
Meanwhile, we continue to plumb our inaugural market for insights and learnings that will allow us to repeat this exercise in the service of other communities of readers and writers.
The Lunch BX shares a great deal of conceptual DNA with Ignota Magazine: its goal is to showcase and reenforce the distinctiveness of Black voices in the arts. Its editorial staff boasts deep roots in the community of artists of color and displays a no-less-deep commitment to nurturing emerging talent therein.
We expect to acquire and relaunch it as our second experiment by Q3 2017, proving out the scalability of our technical platform, publishing technique, and business model.
We’re a representationally and intellectually diverse team with a history of driving success in every facet of the publishing process—editors and engineers, poets and and programmers, lean and literary, agile aesthetes.
Daniel is a veteran of two startups, having served as lead web developer for a popular liquor delivery service and web/iOS/Android engineer for a high-profile fintech company. In past lives he was a contributing nonfiction editor at a Chicago literary magazine, one of the founders of the LGBTQ literary journal qu.ee/r, and a 2016 Lambda Literary Emerging Voice in Nonfiction.
Merritt is an author, designer, curator, and multimedia creator. She has worked as the founder and host of a podcast network with upwards of 10,000 listeners, the editor of a Lambda Literary Award–nominated collection of essays, and the creator of numerous well-received interactive narrative experiences for the Twine platform.
Ryka is a two-time Lambda Literary Award finalist honored by the California State Senate for “extraordinary committment to the visibility and well-being of Transgender people.” Her previous tech writing, advertising, and PR clients include Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, Sun Microsystems, and Suicidal Tendencies.