Missouri Students Offer Solutions To Media Companies’ Problems

The student team that worked with Next Avenue presents its winning pitch during the Center for the Digital Globe Symposium. | Image courtesy of rjionline.org

Six teams of business and journalism students from the University of Missouri presented consulting projects they did for media companies on Friday at the Center for the Digital Globe Symposium in Columbia, marking the culmination of a semester’s worth of work for a class focused on entrepreneurship in a changing media landscape.

For the class, each student team was paired with one of six media companies — the Associated Press, Minnesota Public Radio, Next Avenue, the American Newspaper Digital Access Corporation, Treepple and Nation Media — to help solve a problem facing that company.

At the symposium, each group presented a solution to its partner company’s problem, complete with an evaluation of marketplace conditions, competition, marketing, financials and other aspects of the business.

Professors for the class, which is co-taught by faculty from the university’s Trulaske College of Business and Missouri School of Journalism, included Missouri Business Alert founder Randall Smith.

“My experience surpassed all my expectations,” Glen Cameron, a Treepple co-founder and MU professor, said of having a student team consult for Treepple.

The students that worked with Cameron created a model of commercialization for his company, which helps health care providers send tailored wellness news to their patients. “I am absolutely convinced that it’s a place for news that people can truly use to alleviate all the self-inflicted health conditions that people are suffering from,” Cameron said.

Nestor Santos, an MBA student, was part of the Minnesota Public Radio team, which spent the semester working on a plan to double revenues for the company’s station in Rochester, Minn. “It was very rewarding to know from within the operation of a company engaged in the business of radio, especially for its revenue model primarily supported by donations and memberships of their listeners, which is an operating model across the country in public broadcasting primarily,” Santos said.

“I think the best (part) of these projects is the opportunity to work closely with real companies on real cases in which you learn to articulate all the knowledge under a common goal, in this case, doubling the income of a company,” he added.

After delivering their presentations, the teams fielded questions from a panel of three judges: Les Borgmeyer, vice president of sales for Columbia Daily Tribune; Rob Eshman, publisher and editor-in-chief of Tribe Media; and Beth Keck, senior director of sustainability for Walmart.

At day’s end, the judges awarded first place to the Next Avenue team, which had worked to find permanent revenue streams to support the PBS-affiliated startup that provides information to baby boomers. The Treepple team took second place, and the Associated Press team finished third for its plan to market the AP’s mobile application to younger users.

“The selection was difficult,” Borgmeyer said, noting that only two points separated the No. 1 and No.3 teams. “It was an opportunity for everybody to see that they succeeded. One group was shown as the winner, but they all are winners.”

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