Andrew Diprose took the plunge and started an upbeat local business news website – three years later, he’s sold it to Black Ox. Laura Hitchcock reports
Dorset Biz News was launched in October 2019 as Dorset’s first and only journalist-owned-and-run business news website. After three years, founder and editor Andrew Diprose is hanging up his notepad after selling the business to Black Ox Ltd for an undisclosed sum.
Andrew says: ‘It will be wonderful to finally have the time to just sit still with a book!
‘The last three years have been so full, and by last autumn I began feeling the time was right to stop. But I didn’t just want to write a goodbye post and hang up the “we’re closed” sign. It deserved more than that.’
Andrew approached his preferred purchaser, Black Ox, in November 2022, and the contract was signed last month. ‘I love their plan to spread the BizNews brand to every county,’ says Andrew. ‘To be honest, if I was 30 years younger I’d have loved to do it myself. But after 44 years in the business, it was time.
‘It was a very odd experience, sitting around the board table with the Black Ox team, listening to their enthusiasm and plans for MY business, this brand that I created. Anyone who has created a business from scratch knows it’s intrinsically “yours”.’
No crime, no bad news
‘I remember so clearly watching the clock count down on 2nd October 2019, waiting for 9pm and the site to go live. The very next day the phone started ringing, and it hasn’t stopped. There was such a need and a desire for upbeat, interesting journalism. In the twilight of my career I went right back to my roots – in 1979 my job was going out and interviewing people, writing their stories.’
Richard Thompson, Black Ox Chief Executive Officer, said: ‘We love what Andrew has built at DorsetBizNews.co.uk. It is a positive and dynamic news site which has become a voice for Dorset business, celebrating the people and the companies. We have exciting plans to expand the BizNews brand, always keeping it as a voice for business at the county level and with a commitment to quality content.’
To what does Andrew attribute the success of his rule-breaking news business?
‘I don’t do crime, I don’t do bad news, and therefore I’m not searching for the same story as everyone else. The general impression is that “business is boring” – the websites’ too corporate, the images too bland. I use lots of bright colour, lots of faces. Because business is integral to all our lives. It’s just people. It’s not “business” news when it’s about your friend or your local café. It’s just news.’
Neville the pig
‘The most popular stories were always a new business start-up. A story about someone – anyone – who had decided to just go for it, no matter what the business was. Which of us hasn’t dreamed of doing that? I certainly did!
‘Of the 3,600 plus stories one of the most unusual? Neville the pig. I ran a story for a local animal charity. Neville the pig was looking for a new home. It wasn’t a business story. It had no place on the website really. But I had a slot to fill and the charity needed a little push. Obviously it was the most viewed story not only that day, but that week. And every now and again Neville pops back up on the revolving ticker, more people click on him, and his stats just keep on climbing …’
So what now?
I’ll be doing a handover until the summer, and then I’ve been invited to stay as brand ambassador for three years, helping with the expansion.
‘I plan to read a lot and to sleep a bit. I am going to have adventures with my wife. But to just stop? No. That would be odd for someone who’s worked six days a week for three years. I’ve already had some interesting offers and I can safely say I won’t be bored.’