An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Scott T. Janney (co-founder and CEO) of Magazine Jukebox, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Magazine Jukebox – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
Magazine Jukebox was never a thought before May of 2020. In fact, the previous year, my wife (Lauren Janney – co0founder) and I were going to open a coffee shop in 2020. We were about to sign the lease in Feb of 2020 when COVID hit. When we were thinking about opening a coffee shop, we wanted one that had a “Magazine Wall” very much like Barns and Noble. But as we all recall, COVID and the CDC shut down print magazines. So around May, my wife said to me “You know Scott, coffee shops have been doing pretty good through this and our other companies (insurance agencies) have stabilized. Maybe we should open up our coffee shop?”. I responded with: “Yeah, but we can’t have my magazine wall. Really, it’s too bad there isn’t a way we can scan a code and enjoy a magazine without downloading an app”. She replied with: “Well, why isn’t there?”.
For the next 4 months I started doing research, all the while wondering how this didn’t already exist. Thus, MJB was created! We incorporated Magazine Jukebox, Inc. in August of 2020. What we solved was getting magazines back into commercial spaces while protecting publishers, and giving consumers/end users a magazine without having to give personal info or downloading an app. This is no different than how they were put out in physical form, but now digitally using geo-fencing & time stamping technology.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
Having never raised capital before, I knew it would be a journey in finding it to build out and scale. We also did not know if publishers would be interested in this, so we created a whiteboard illustration to show them before we even had a MVP.
What does the future hold for Magazine Jukebox?
The future is exciting – we are building out a commercial partner and publisher dashboard, hiring sales team(s), and a marketing team. We are onboarding new publishers and gaining access to full suites of publications available from existing publishers. We have a long way to go, but new technology and constantly evolving is key to our success!
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Norfolk?
I think Norfolk (it’s economic development team is fantastic) is doing a really good job at pursuing and attracting tech companies. However, I think there are some other things they need to be considering, like an employee public parking (2 year/10k) grant. For me to have 10 employees costs a minimum of $850.00/month or $10,200 a year.
I think the tech that is coming out of Norfolk is really surprising in a great way, such as SVT Robotics, which is changing the way things are moved in warehouses around the country/world, friends building out better ways to hire employees, and cyber security enhancements. I recently talked to a startup that is creating a system where someone can leave messages behind even after they pass away – how cool is that? And lastly, my friends over at the 757 Startup Studios are providing great space at the beautiful Assembly building, giving new founders and veterans creative and collective zones to see if they can build something from scratch. It’s not easy, but what we are seeing is awesome.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Go for it, but it’s not going to be easy. Nothing will be handed to you and you will meet people today that have better intentions for your success than those you have known for the past 10 years. If you are in a relationship, make sure they are in it with you because there is no such thing as a 50% family entrepreneurship – you need 100% buy in from both partners so you’re not balancing stress from the business and an “I told you so” attitude at home. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle, not a job selection.