Originally from California, Rhys Lynn, co-owner of Nonahood News, landed in Florida at a young age after his parents sold everything, bought a motor home and traveled the country for a year. Lynn grew up in the Clearwater and St. Petersburg area. He made his own journey, along with his wife, to Orlando in 2013. They wanted a change and found what they were looking for in the Lake Nona community. "We saw the potential," Lynn said. "Lake Nona represents a really interesting intersection of technology, entertainment, medicine and sports. There's a lot of development going on. The whole idea behind the community is health and happiness. It's a very social environment and a great place to raise a family."
In May of 2017, Lynn and his wife Jenny acquired Nonahood News from a good friend. Lynn explained, "My friend wasn't happy in his day job and he previously lived in a place that had a local paper. I was his cheerleader, encouraging him along the way. After about a year, he moved out of the neighborhood and thought the paper should be run by someone local. He reached out to me and, even though conventional wisdom says print is a dying industry, I took the plunge. I knew it had potential."
Before acquiring Nonahood News, Lynn spent three years doing freelance consulting in the digital marketing world. He still does some consulting today, but he's mostly focused on Nonahood News. Prior to his consulting business, Lynn spent 10 years with Verizon Business in the Complex Delivery team within their Global Enterprise Solutions division. He worked on many challenging projects with big clients, but wasn't fulfilled. After some soul searching, it was time to move on. That move led to Lynn's consulting business and now Nonahood News.
Nonahood News exists in print version and online. Every month, 19,500 copies are distributed to residents in the Lake Nona area. The paper is supported by digital advertisements, print ads and Facebook ads, as well as weekly and monthly news and online videos that provide opportunities for sponsorship. According to Lynn, the uniqueness and the appeal of Nonahood News comes from the fact that they tell stories nobody else will. "We go much deeper than service level stuff," he said. "We focus heavily on local businesses and owners. We really enjoy the connection to the community and highlighting all the incredible things happening in our area. We also do whatever we can to support local charities and events."
Lynn shared with us some of the early challenges he faced when they first took over the business. "The previous owners ran the paper out of their house with a very small crew," he said. "The process of going from a home office to a real office has been a challenge. Scaling up and properly managing our growth has been another. The most unexpected challenge has been getting used to the production cycle that comes with a printed paper. It's unrelenting. Everything has to be done and on time for production. You're kind of a slave to that."
Looking ahead, Lynn is focused on several initiatives. He wants to expand the paper's digital presence. He's focused on growing Nonahood News' email list, website traffic and Facebook audience. This will help Lynn spring-board into video production services for local businesses and events. He also wants to increase the size of the paper, in terms of the physical page count. This will give Lynn and his team more real estate to work with. Ultimately, he wants Nonahood News to be the communication hub of the community.
Lynn offers up some great advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. "We're creatures of comfort and habit," he said. "But it's important to not be afraid to fail. It's actually very healthy to fail. You'll learn from it and grow. Think about how much of your life your day job takes up. If you're not happy at work, you're not happy for a big part of your life. If that's the case, make a change to where you're now happy for the lion's share of your waking hours."