Seed Funding Awards for Student Projects

 In Education, Investment, News

On May 23, 2011, after fifteen weeks of five intensive courses, the students in the inaugural Entrepreneurial Journalism Program presented their individual business plans to a panel of four veteran venture capitalists.

Following deliberations, Tow-Knight Center Director Jeff Jarvis announced that three students were awarded seed funding to further develop their projects:

Youyoung Lee: $10,000 to create a prototype for Gourmeet, a social media platform that enables the food community to get together — to cook, share a meal, and meet each other, as well as to create and exchange food-related information.

Mathias Østerlund: $10,000 to launch, which aggregates news about the European Union and also features original reporting and opinion. Østerlund plans to syndicate content in local languages to media outlets in EU countries.

Robin Monheit: $5000 to create a prototype for Pique, an interactive celebrity fashion site based on a new platform that facilitates organizing and sharing photos from various sources.

Almost all the student business plans are “either content-based businesses that operate on a known model or are platform-based businesses that are potentially disruptive,” says Professor Jarvis. But are all these businesses really journalistic enterprises?

“I define journalism broadly,” says Jarvis. “I think that journalism is something that helps a community organize its information so that it can organize itself. . . . Take Gourmeet, for example. Youyoung Lee is trying to develop a platform for the food community and content becomes a byproduct of that. We in journalism need to break out of the idea that content is our only product.”

(Perry Santanachote contributed to this report.)

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