Last night, 11 students competed to earn their final grade — and $7,500 of seed money.
For their final projects, students in English professor Sam Apple’s “Entrepreneurial Journalism” class presented their ideas for innovative startup media platforms at the Kelly Writers House.
The intensive seminar — based on a class taught at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism — 4asks students to create a viable startup that approaches media distribution in a new way.
The students had only three minutes to convince the six judges, explaining their ideas and why they could become successful. This was followed by two minutes of questions from the judges.
The judges will decide how to divide the $7,500 prize money among the possible winners.
College freshman Laura Petro opened the night with her pitch, Thrift Sift, a thrift store review and styling system. She explained that, thanks to hipsters, there is an increasing market for thrift stores and with that, her service.
“People want to know the best things to buy, but don’t know where or how to buy them,” she said.
The night continued with a variety of ideas. From youth travel to student-written college sports websites, the competition was intense.
Many of the pitches were centered on publication.
College junior Elan Kiderman’s startup, Quar.to, would allow users to order online content with the push of a button. Users could then aggregate online information into their own inexpensive books.
“Publishers are desperate for revenue streams,” he said, explaining why his site would be successful.
Another student, College junior and former Daily Pennsylvanian staff member Deepa Lakshmin, pitched Chit Chat, an online magazine marketed for and partially written by Philadelphia teens.
She plans for it to be a nonprofit organization that would publish stories high school students are genuinely interested in.
Apple explained how these startups are crucial to the changing face of journalism. “It’s no secret that the last decade has seen more traditional [journalism] models fail,” he said. “It’s important to have talented young people thinking about these problems.”
Although the winner has not yet been crowned, Director of School of Arts and Sciences Computing and Student Technology and judge Chris Mustazza admitted that the decision will be “exceptionally close.”
In picking the winning idea, Mustazza asked himself, “Would this be something that I would use?” The judges also looked for a startup that could be a viable business and make a profit.
Win or lose, many students plan to continue working on their startups next semester.
College junior Becca Goldstein, for example, will take her next semester off to develop her startup, Travld, a website and app team that provides youth-focused travel information. Goldstein already has meetings scheduled with potential financial backers.
“Travld is happening,” she said.
College sophomore Aaron Wilson also has the beta version of his website, Straight Shooter, up and running. The website would match its users with the best app for their particular needs.
“People are creating amazing things,” Wilson said in reference to the wealth of online applications, “and people are not finding it.”Comments powered by Disqus
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