Week two: How we pitched ideas for news products (with gifs!)

May 31 2013

Eight startup interns. Eleven ideas. Five minutes for each idea.

Our charge: Select two viable ideas for news products to pursue for the rest of the summer.


Moments before the pitching was set to start, we made nervous jokes about Shark Tank and started tweeting with the hashtag #SharkLab.


Here’s the round up of what we pitched:
1. Transcripts of N.C. General Assembly sessions, marketed to lobbyists and journalists
2. AutoDub: Translating live news into different languages but focusing initially on the Hispanic population
3. A crime and safety app that informs you about local crimes in your area with a panic button included
4. PicketLine: a mobile app for protestors, allies of protestors and the media that raises the bar for accountability and follow-through practices for social change. (I did this one and I describe my pitching process below.)
5. MyView: a closer look at personal political bias
6. People’s Pitch: Giving the news back to the people and providing a 24-hour team to tackle any story a reader would want. Money would come from access to the archives of the stories
7. Tune Out: a second-screen app that allows you to move away from boring material on your first screen
8. Community Spotlight: An app that showcases mug shots of crimes committed around you. A nightly roundup of the previous mug shots in your area
9. Second Screen Experience: An app or browser that provides supplementary information about what the viewer is watching on the first screen
10. What’s Your Bias?: An app that lets you read articles and test your own bias
11. Your community: A mobile site or app that connects articles with your community in a comprehensive manner and mapping them as they pertain to your area

How we pitched

We had three minutes to tell about our idea and express passion, practicality and – most of all – profitability.

We had two minutes to answer questions from the room about our ideas, and to hope to goodness we could answer them.

All of this was a little scary, but thrilling.

The prep work, the actual performance presentation and having to answer questions on the spot made me fired up to apply it to the two projects we selected.

To prepare, I relied on research on other “meet-aps,” a history of protesting, and a pattern that I decided to add to the core of my product: accountability.

From there I created a very basic slideshow presentation without any words. It only had powerful pictures of people protesting and gathering for a cause.

It was, like I said, thrilling, but I realized I would have to prepare a whole lot more for the end of the summer. On August 8, we’ll pitch our final ideas to potential investors.

After the pitch paaaaarty

We had lunch.


Then we deliberated and rated the pitches. The No. 1 criterion was, “Can this make money?”

And that is where the fabulous idea (if I say so myself) of the PicketLine was chopped up.

But then we latched on to two other great ideas: a North Carolina General Assembly alert system and a second-screen experience!


It’s time to get things rolling. The next steps are research, choosing features and developing a marketing and promotion plan. It will be a crazy ride, folks.

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