Snow Fall, Karma and Special Ops – ASU startups pitch for Edson Grant

ASU Cronkite New Media Innovation Lab undergraduate and graduate students pitched their ideas to a panel of notable leaders in the entrepreneurial and media space at the Angels vs Devils startup pitch day.
The Lab is where journalism students work side-by-side with computer engineering, design and business students to create an MVP for regional and national media companies and organizations.
Currently one out of the six companies have launched in the marketplace and acquired customers. All startups have applied for the Edson Grant award and are awaiting the results.
One particular startup caught my attention, PACE, a company that aims to help keep journalists and humanitarians safe while on assignment in areas of conflict. PACE was co-founded by a military veteran with Special Operations experience, and their team possess over 35 combined years of U.S. Special Operations Command experience.
Currently, aid workers and journalists account for 20 percent of all kidnapped victims around the world. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists 211 journalists were jailed worldwide in 2013 with 71 out of 140 being freelancers. A most recent example includes a CBS news crew that was captured and held under threat in the Ukraine-one female reporter attributed her success of release to the training she received.

Committee to Protect Journalists - where journalists have been captured
Source: Committee to Protect Journalists – how many journalists have been jailed in each country in 2013

The co-founders identified that large organizations currently bring in outside resources for training but the program itself is limited to two to five skill sets such as first aid, active threat protection, land navigation, basic hostage survival and psychological coping. While these skills are good to have, they are just scratching the surface of what survival intel might be needed in a hostile environment. The co-founder said that PACE would up the ante and provide training of over 20 skills to an individual or team, plus offer consulting for specific assignment locations.

Other startups included:

  • Napoleon – an aggregation search tool that is designed to enhance the reader experience; Napoleon has launched in the Google marketplace
  • Sravel – a travel planning site targeted towards the YGEN crowd that uses social media to connect other adventuresome souls and facilitate peer-to-peer travel suggestions
  • Esque – a multimedia development tool for WordPress inspired by The New York Times Snow Fall Pulitzer Prize winning story that will allow journalists to create deep, rich multimedia articles without having to learn to code
  • Course Karma – a collaborative online platform that mirrors a study group format, similar to Stack Overflow, and engages college students via social learning throughout their college experience
  • J-Port – an online portfolio creator for multimedia journalism students to showcase all types of work (video, content, photography, etc.) and job board for companies looking to hire top graduates

The majority of startups plan to launch their MVP in late Fall.
Retha Hill, Executive Director of the Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism said, “…journalists never thought about the business of media, but these students now have a better idea of what it takes to make a successful business…even if these ideas fail for whatever reason, these young people know that they still will be valuable to an employer because they can think outside of the box, can overcome obstacles and can make a way out of no way…”
Learn more about the New Media Innovation Lab here
Learn more about Edson Program
Contributions from Committee to Protect Journalists, CBS NEWS & JFK Library
This article has been corrected since it’s original post