Last week (15 March), participated at a 'speed-dating-style' networking event for MA Journalism and Erasmus Mundus programme students at City, University in London.

Students had the chance to quiz journalists, innovators and entrepreneurs on how to help their new startup ideas fly in the real world.

They also received advice on their media service or product ideas from professionals at CNBC International, Guardian Voice Labs, university alumni and

"What they need here are people they don’t know. They are getting an opportunity to succinctly explain what they are doing, which can sometimes be a challenge, and then they get some feedback," said Jane Singer, professor of journalism innovation, City, University of London.

Although this was part of their ‘journalism innovation’ assignment, students can take their idea forward into the University’s CitySpark competition to grant them the funds to kickstart and launch their projects.

"I hope they’ve been challenged on the feasibility and given ideas on what might sound interesting and what else they could try. They get the chance to go round and gain some confidence," Singer explained.

"The purpose of this is to get a lot of diverse feedback from a variety of people from different backgrounds and different areas of expertise."

Past CitySpark winner Jeremy Evans was one of the ‘speed-daters’ who was able to share first-hand experience of this module and his entrepreneurial breakthroughs that resulted from the competition.

Now CTO of a startup called Savvy, he encouraged students to think about context when considering their business ideas.

"It’s very easy to say there is a problem in journalism so let’s build an app, but that is never going to work unless you have a thorough understanding of what is going wrong currently and why a piece of technology can change that," explained Evans.

"The other thing which I said to a lot of groups was around trends. A lot of ideas have been tried or not tried for good reasons, but if you can identify that something is on the up or something else is dying out, the combination of those two things means you have an opportunity to build this idea, you have a thesis you can put forward and now is the time to do so."

City student Mario Braga said the event had helped him consider new angles and the last few kinks to iron out before the deadline in two weeks’ time. Students will then face a panel of ‘dragons’ with a mixture of newsroom, education and entrepreneurial backgrounds.

"After pitching, we were asked about things we hadn’t thought about. Whether that’s marketing or partnering, opting for different media outlets, or using different features and interfaces, it presented us with some challenges we needed to address," he explained.

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