Round 1 of the 2024 Startup Columbia Venture Challenge

For the third consecutive year, the Brown Institute partnered with Columbia Entrepreneurship to offer a segment of the Startup Columbia Venture Challenge dedicated to media initiatives. The first round of our competition started with twenty-one teams. Like previous years, we were amazed at the variety of projects being pitched and the breadth of expertise on the teams. Some were trying to repair journalism’s business models with clever payment schemes or new ways of matching advertisers and content creators. AI played a significant role in this year’s projects, serving as a tool for optimizing site functionality and content delivery, as well as aiding in reporting. And there were several single-subject news sites proposing new forms of reader engagement around strong local reporting and deep investigations.

On February 26th and March 1st, we hosted our first round of pitches, dividing the field into two sessions with about ten projects each. Judges Sterling Proffer, Julia Angwin, Hilary Braseth, Ha-Hoa Hamano, Summer Delaney and Sam Gross narrowed the field to nine finalists who were notified today. These teams will advance to the final round of competition on March 25th, vying for cash prizes totaling $5k, $10k, and $15k. Additionally, the winning teams will secure fellowships for our Summer Internship Program to further develop their ventures.

We were thoroughly impressed by the caliber of the presentations and the professionalism of the teams in crafting their proposals. Many teams clearly benefited from the guidance of our Entrepreneurs in Residence, refining their concepts and honing their pitches. It was hard settle on the finalists!

Congratulations to everyone who participated and to our final nine! Good luck on the 25th!