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‘News Before It Happens’ project wins $7,500 seed money from Penn

Find the 11 pre-product Penn entrepreneurial journalism student projects that vied for $7,500 in seed money, including the winner, a news gamification pitch.

In December 2012, Penn professor Sam Apple first held a demo night at Kelly Writers House for his entrepreneurial journalism class.

Make a prediction and have users vote on the likelihood of it happening. That effort to gamify news engagement is called ‘News Before It Happens’ and won University of Pennsylvania senior Samara Gordon $7,500 in seed funding to test the project.

She competed against a dozen of her peers in an Entrepreneurial Journalism class taught by Penn professor Sam Apple, himself a one-time media startup leader in a semester-end pitch night last week. Full disclosure, this reporter was among the four judges.

This winter, Gordon, 21, plans to work with a designer to roll out a beta version of the site, she told Philly in a followup email. She plans to graduate in May and is looking for interested partners on the project: email her at “samarag AT”

Give an honorable mention to Trisha Jain, whose ‘Map of Said’ is an academic pitch to use Mechanical Turk to assess the subjective relationships between words in the English language to better understand its use in marketing, political speech and art (does ‘cherry’ make the average American think of ‘luxury’ more than ‘aqua’?).

Below, find a complete set list of the class’s pitches.

  1. Sam Horn, Love On Wax — a blog on vinyl music supported by advertising.
  2. Zachary Weiner, The Sports Quotient — a fantasy sports network that generates a single cross-league ranking for sports knowledge.
  3. Samantha Alma, Memento — a social media aggregation tool structured around events, like vacations, to create scrapbooks online and off.
  4. Shelby Rachleff, Screenbyte — a human-curated film discovery tool.
  5. Samara Gordon,  Nb4H — News Before It Happens is news engagement gamification tool around predicting future events.
  6. Courtney Reamer, 30 Days Of... — a community for 30 day challenges, inspired by this TED video.
  7. Deborah Kotkin and Marie Nikolova, Processed — a science-centric food blog.
  8. Thomas Hoopes,  AboutTime Fitness — healthy lifestyle network that generates emailed diet and fitness routines based on a set of criteria
  9. Audrey Harnagel, PennPins — image-centric, online community bulletin board with a Pinterest-inspired design and early focus on universities.
  10. Trisha Jain, Map of Said — an academic approach at understanding the subjective relationship between unrelated words in the English language
  11. Taylor Culliver, Vyrtex — ‘Spotify for online content’ is an idea for a more localized, curated version of the semantic web, the next-generation search engine model that relies less on keywords and more on the network effect.
Companies: University of Pennsylvania

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