Writing and technology intersected last night at the Entrepreneurial Journalism Pitch Night at Kelly Writers House.
Every seat was taken for the event, which was the culmination of contemporary writing professor Sam Apple’s “Entrepreneurial Journalism” course. At the event, students in the course had the opportunity to pitch startup ideas to a panel of four judges for a grand prize of $7,500.
Each student in the class spent the semester developing his or her own idea that combines the internet and the core elements of journalism into a unique project. They had just three minutes each to present their ideas and business plans last night.
The four judges of the pitches were all prominent individuals in the Philadelphia journalism and entrepreneurial communities. Creative Ventures, a consulting firm that supports ideas and startups centered around creativity and imagination, sponsored the event.
Though the startups may have begun as simple concepts, many are now fully functioning websites or mobile apps. Students pitched everything from a mobile app called Screenbyte, which allows you to immediately access a database of movie and pop culture references, to a website devoted to predicting tomorrow’s headlines called The News Before it Happened.
College senior Zachary Weiner had a slightly different experience in the class because his idea, The Sports Quotient, a website where sports fans compete against each other in trivia games and fantasy leagues to test their sports knowledge, was already a running site before he took the class.
Even with prior experience, though, “it was amazing to see how much I had to learn from my classmates,” Weiner said. “I may have had a slight advantage because Sports Quotient was already a functioning website, but I was still able to really develop and improve it as the class developed. We were always helping each other, and we became a community. Regardless of who wins or loses, I will have learned so much from this class.”
Apple agreed that the course is unique in nature. “At its core, the class is a competition, but it’s set up as a workshop. All of the students were competing against each other yet simultaneously helping each other to improve their ideas,” he said.
But as the night came to a close, it became clear that what was really special about the class wasn’t the ideas themselves, but the community of the class. While the judges left the room to deliberate, the class sat together in the living room congratulating each other on their presentations and expressing relief that they were finally done.
The winner of the grand prize will be announced in the future.
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