After four months of learning how to develop an idea into a business plan, students from Prof. Jeff Jarvis’s Entrepreneurial Journalism class had 10 minutes to persuade a demanding jury of media professionals why their projects should receive seed funding.
“Pitch Day never gets old,” said Jarvis, who started the innovative third-semester course five years ago. “You can feel the enthusiasm and energy in the room. And there’s always such a unpredictable mix of ideas.”
On this year’s Pitch Day, the projects included a new approach to connecting small businesses to each other and their local customers, an interactive platform for weekend athletes to exchange advice about sports injuries and share training tips, and an online magazine aimed at the holistic health and wellness audience. Following the presentations, the jury convened and after an hour of sometimes heated deliberations, announced this year’s prizes:
• Yudith Ho: $10,000 to launch Abaka, a personal finance site aimed at Indonesia’s emerging middle class.
• Michael Mccutcheon: $5,000 to refine Newsfly, a platform for disaggregating and reorganizing news articles.
• Brianne Garcia: $5,000 to develop WTF Would I Wear With This? – a fashion platform that allows brands to compete for customers.
• Amy Stretten: $5,000 to develop Achimó, a platform for indigenous youth in the U.S. and Canada who are interested in arts and culture.
• Tim Verheyden: $5,000 to launch Crosstalk.be, which aims to become the hub of political discussion and opinion for Flemish-speaking Belgians.
The awards are funded under the School’s Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism, which is committed to helping create a sustainable future for quality journalism. “Jeremy Caplan and I are teaching students to become disrupters and innovators,” said Jarvis.
“For the most part, the awards help finance the students as they move their projects from ideation to prototype,” he continued. “At that point they can approach angel investors for further funding of their business plans. And for some students, the awards actually help them create their own jobs – to become independent, self-supporting journalists. That’s a good thing.”
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