11 student media startup ideas: Upenn Entrepreneurial Journalism Demo Night


Eleven University of Pennsylvania students pitched their media startup ideas at an Entrepreneurial Journalism Demo Night held in the Kelly Writers House last week. I was there by invitation of the class’s professor Sam Apple, whose reporting background stems from a stint experimenting with launching theFasterTimes.com.

The Daily Pennsylvanian, the student newspaper, covered the pitch night here, so I just wanted to share the 11 pitches I saw.

Penn Entrepreneurial Journalism Demo Night judges

  • Matt Mankins, Chief Technology Officer, Fast Company
  • Dan Maccarone, CEO, Charming Robot
  • Niko Karvounis, Cofounder, Quovo
  • Mike Lyons, Cofounder, West Philly Local
  • Chris Mustazza, Director of Student Technology, UPenn

Two things struck me after listening to the students and attending the event: there was little intersection with what media infrastructure is happening in Philadelphia and, because of that, there was a focus on either (a) their campus or (b) the global or other cities.

  • Thrift Sift (Laura Petro) finds and reviews thrift stores and community of thrift style. “A Refinery29 for thrift,” she said.
  • Follow.me (Emma Silverman) offeres travel planning for college students by college students, .edu emails, free vetted itineraries as lead generation for paid advisers and ebooks
  • Bite of the Real (Michael Moore) is a tool to display how much a story cost to produce and creates an easy mechanism to donate. Think Naratively and Kickstarter, said the Factcheck.org student reporter and fan of longform.
  • Quar.to (Elan Kiderman) is a service to order print versions of online content across partners, which reminded me of an effort I was a part of to get indie media shared and published in Metro or another existing Philly print paper.)
  • Straight Shooter (Aaron Wilson) is a website that crowdsources the best software and apps across the web. “What is the best app for” is Googled 2.74 million times a month, said Wilson. It’s like the Wirecutter for software, he said.
  • Travld (Becca Goldstein) is a website and mobile app focused on student travelers to help create a community around freemium modeled tours. She is taking next semester off to launch the tool, she said.
  • Campus Crazies (Alex Ott) is “college sports for the college man,” said the SB Nation contributor.
  • My Vita (Rebecca Moore) is a culture site that features profiles of average people and do gooders, paid for by covering company employee of the month and revenue from the ebook market.
  • ChitChat (Deepa Lakshmin) is a Philly online mag for and by teens. It is modeled after 826 Valencia, she said.
  • The Tech Dispatch (Matt Williams) is a web site featuring student entrepreneur profiles by students, featuring skills matching and jobs listings.
  • Eventu.ly (Jennifer Sun) is a comprehensive campus events calendar that could be offered as a paid service to universities to collect the broadest collection of relevant events on and off campus. It’s Shopstyle meets Facebook events, she said.