On Tuesday evening, students in Sam Apple’s “Entrepreneurial Journalism” class gathered in the Kelly Writers House to share their visions on the future of journalism.
They had spent the semester developing and fine-tuning those visions, creating their own digital journalism startups complete with business plans and ideas on how to engage different audiences. At the event, students presented their ideas to a panel of five distinguished journalists, venture capitalists and internet pioneers.
With $7,500 in seed funding on the line, the stakes were high.
“I always have some mixed feelings about this event. I am extremely proud of all my students and feel they have all done a really good job this semester. I really enjoyed watching their ideas develop,” Apple said. “The mixed feeling part is that there can only be one winner, but I think you’ll see this evening that there are many ideas that are worthy of a prize.”
Despite the high stakes, the atmosphere in the Writers House was one of friendly competition as the students came together to pitch their ideas. The presentations tackled topics as varied as student finance, news consumption, local politics, music sharing, podcasting and more.
Students were particularly interested in digital journalism models created by millennials for millennials. One mobile application sought to be a “Wall Street Journal for millennials.” Another mobile app called Soundcheck, created by College sophomore Nico Carrino, was described as being a Yelp for live music.
“The problem for the average, everyday concert-goer is that there is no platform for finding live shows,” Carrino said.
His mobile app Soundcheck — the ultimate winner of the seed money — hopes to alleviate that problem. By bringing together reports on live shows and live music discovery, Soundcheck aims to spread the word about live shows and concerts.
Finding new bands and sharing the bands you discover may seem like needs fulfilled by existing services like Spotify, Apple and Pandora. However, Carrino disagreed.
“Music lends itself to eyes and ears, not algorithms,” he said.
Unlike existing services, Soundcheck will be written by and for millennials, with live, human content based on personal experiences and discoveries.
Another app, created by Wharton junior Jason Choi, is called Writer Flow. The app aims to become a crowdsource website for writing, allowing users to contribute essays that would then be critiqued by other writers visiting the site.
Other projects created by students include Vote For, which would lay out information about local politics and election, Dress Me, which gives users outfit and styling feedback and Let’s Get Thrifty Now, a student finance website.
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