Miami Column startup uses software to populate newspaper columns with public notices
Miami Herald Startup Pitch Contest
Don’t miss the mini-profiles on the product and service innovations of six South Florida startups that won top honors in this year’s Miami Herald Startup Pitch competition.
Jake Seaton comes from a five-generation media family with deep roots in the American Midwest. He studied computer science and journalism at Harvard University and wanted to find a way to use technology to help shape the future of the family business and industry.
Seaton founded Column, a software startup focused on the future of public notice.
“We have deployed a software platform that helps governments, law firms and citizens place legally required notices with official publications in their communities,” Seaton said. “We also operate statewide public notice databases for approximately 16 US states, including Florida.”
Column was selected as the second runner-up for the Community Track of the 2022 Miami Herald Startup Pitch Competition. The track was managed by Endeavor Miami, the startup support and networking group with expertise in pitching start-up scale.
His clients include media companies such as McClatchy, owner of the Miami Herald, Wick Communications, Ogden Newspapers, Lee Enterprises and The Washington Post.
Column (column.us), a public benefit corporation, incubated at the Shorenstein Center at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. In 2019 Seaton returned to his hometown of Manhattan, Kansas with his founding team. All summer they worked at his father’s flagship newspaper, sitting next to the clerk who handled public notices and working with a law firm across the street to create the first draft of his public notices platform, while conducting interviews with newspaper staff. city clerks and attorneys across Kansas, Seaton said.
“We tried to make this workflow, which involved faxes and snail mails and notices of newspaper clippings and staple them to an affidavit of publication that is signed and notarized and sent to the county courthouse, too fluid as possible with technology,” he said.
As states, including Florida, attempted to introduce legislation that would curtail public notice activities for news outlets, a source of revenue for a struggling industry, Column rolled out databases to the statewide Americans with Disabilities Act compliant with advanced technology tools. research and work with public information.
Column now has 50 employees spread over five continents. Miami is the company‘s base with some of Column’s executives, including Seaton, living here. To fund growth, Column raised seed money and received grants. The startup makes money by charging a small processing fee for each review.
Seaton wouldn’t disclose its earnings, but said Column grew an average of 20% month-over-month since its launch in September 2020. In the first quarter of this year, gross trading volume tripled.
“We’re not sexy like a crypto or an NFT company,” he said. “We are very focused on the very hard work of improving processes within local media organizations and local governments and the legal services professionals they work with.”
(Editor’s note: An independent panel of judges from the Miami venture capital community reviewed the nominees’ submissions and selected the winners and runners-up. Neither McClatchy nor the Herald had any employees involved in the judging. contestants or selection of winners.)