"I think there is one other ingredient to being successful at this, and that is being connected to the community. That's why it is so hard for entrepreneurs. You can't just land in a city and seek a solution."
Cynthia Closkey, in May 31, 2007, MGP interview
Photo Linked From: http://www.bigbigdesign.com/images/cc01_small.jpg
Cynthia Closkey left a fast-track career in the IT industry to move back to her hometown 40 miles north of Pittsburgh and launched this local online news resource.
First she founded a web-design business, helping other local online news-community entrepreneurs such as John Moyle at the Overland [Mo.] Examiner. Now she's building ButlerToday.com, which she says is really just in "alpha" (as of late May, 2007).
"Within the next year I want to have a firmer base of advertisers involved," she says. "Everyone who gets involved in it in some way becomes a little more interested in spreading the word. And I'd like to see the classified ads really take off. I'm hoping that will be a traffic driver. I kind of feel like free classifieds are a no brainer. Free classifieds are going to take things ove pretty soon, so we might as well be the first to do that."
To help her with getting local information on the site, Closkey approached Slippery Rock University, and added a non-paid academic intern to her staff. She hopes to add a second academic intern in the fall. As advertising picks up, she hopes to begin paying premium contributors $5 to $8 per post for useful material. She uses the Joomla, the component-based, open-source development framework for much of her webwork, including ButlerToday.
"I want someone associated with the high school, and someone on Main Street Bulter, who is kind of aware of rumors and gossip," she says.
Longer term, Closkey is seeking to use her web-design and technology skills to develop tools that other local entrepreneurs can use. Technology is a key ingredient to success, she says. But it's not sufficient, and it's why she is back in the town in which she grew up. "I think there is one other ingredient to being successful at this, and that is being connected ot the community," she says. "That's why it is so hard for entrepreneurs. Youcan't just land in a city and seek a solution."
Closkey has developed marketing strategies and designed websites since 1997, and has worked in information design and user interface design since the late 1980s. She has a BS and an MS in computer science and electrical engineering from MIT, and a management degree from MIT's Sloan School.
She worked for high-tech companies including NeXT Computer, Oracle Corp., Gensym Corp., and Bay Networks in marketing strategy, UI design, communications, product design, business process improvement, and management.
She co-founded the Pittsburgh Bloggers blog directory in 2004. She guest lectures at the University of Pittsburgh and elsewhere on the role of blogs in corporate communications, and is co-organizer of the new media conferences BootCamp PGH and PodCamp Pittsburgh 2.