Known locally as a “fierce female founder” and trailblazer, Jeannine Taylor’s vision of a local internet-based media company dates back 22 years.
When she landed on the internet for the first time in late 1995, Jeannine wasn’t sure how it was going to change her own life — but she did know it was going to change everything else.
“I was the managing editor of three local print magazines at the time and the internet was a huge eureka moment for me,” she recalls. “I’d always worked in marketing and promotion and I just knew that the internet was a game changer.”
After a Christmas holiday spent surfing the internet — she laughingly says she was single at the time — she returned to her freelance work, recommending that her print publisher needed to embrace the internet.
When that didn’t happen, she did it alone, developing an “e-zine” with local content that launched on May 1, 1996 — just five months later. Called Quid Novis (a variation of quid novi, Latin for “what’s new?”), the website at quidnovis.com received 10,000 visits in its first week.
“That was a lot of internet traffic back in 1996,” Jeannine says. “It’s funny now to think of the publicity we got at the time. CBC Radio called me to come to Toronto for an interview, and the local daily and television news covered it too.”
There were only a handful of local websites in existence at the time, and businesses began to seek out Jeannine for guidance in web development and internet marketing. Quid Novis soon morphed into Quid Novis Internet Productions.
“We got really busy doing website development,” she says. “It was so busy that we didn’t need to seek our new clients — they came to us.”
The business grew over the next 15 years, with Quid Novis Internet Productions developing and hosting hundreds of websites for the private and public sector and garnering local, provincial, and international awards.
Along the way, Jeannine has garnered her own share of awards and accolades. She was Peterborough’s Business Woman of the Year in 2005, a Premier’s Award nominee in 2003, and received a City of Peterborough Civic Award for chairing the development of Millennium Park.
But Jeannine never lost sight of her original intent to develop an online media publication. Quidnovis.com had continued to thrive separately as an community events website, with growing traffic every month, but it was a labour of love. She committed staff resources to maintain and update the site, even though it was a cost centre for the company.
By 2006, changes were happening in the web development industry that made it easier for people to develop and host their own websites. At the same time, social media networks like Facebook and Twitter were gaining traction both with individuals and businesses.
“I realized the potential to grow the web development business was limited,” she says, and decided to shift her focus back on the business of online publishing.
Because the Quid Novis brand had become synonymous with web development, Jeannine rebranded quidnovis.com to kawarthaNOW.com in July 2010 and greatly expanded the site’s content to include news, arts, lifestyle, and business content — while still maintaining the community events of its predecessor.
Over the past eight years, kawarthaNOW.com has continued to grow, now reaching more than 220,000 unique readers every month who read 25,000 pages daily. In 2011 and again in 2013, kawarthaNOW.com was recognized with the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce Excellence Awards for Entrepreneurial Spirit.
But the internet has not only changed Jeannine’s business life: it’s also changed her personal life. It’s where she met her life and business partner Bruce Head, who has been by her side every step of the way since 1996 and is currently kawarthaNOW.com’s managing editor.
“I often joke that my only true talent is recruitment,” she says. “I recruited Bruce via Match.com in 1996 and I recruit all of our writers. We have amazing talented writers on our team, and they all understand our focus on high-quality content, which is a key feature of our brand.”
And there’s no slowing down. When it comes to online business, change is constant and fast paced, and there’s a need to be present and active on multiple channels every day and without pause. That includes social media, where kawarthaNOW.com has amassed over 48,000 followers including their weekly VIP enews. With more than 11,000 followers on Instagram — kawarthaNOW is the only local media company to achieve that milestone — by regularly sharing the work of local photographers.
“It can only be described as intense. We have to make the time to plan strategically and be ready to take action when needed,’ Jeannine explains. “We constantly need to re-evaluate our position in the market and watch who’s crossing into our business lane at any time. We used to do a SWOT once a year and it’s something we now talk about all the time.”
While for most people this might seem exhausting, Jeannine says it actually energizes her.
“It forces me to be constantly researching and learning,” she says.
“The real challenge is being able to accurately identify our next moves, where we need to going, and how to get there. With the pace of change on the internet, it’s a daily process to stay tuned in and be vigilant.
“It’s a good thing that, over 22 years later, I still believe the internet is the future of news and communication.”
The head office of kawarthaNOW.com is located in Peterborough. For more information, contact Jeannine Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 705-742-6404. You can follow kawarthaNOW.com on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.