“Fake news” has become a catchphrase, and Cameron Curry, of Mishicot, thinks that it presents a problem that needs solving.
The student of Ryan Kauth, lecturer of entrepreneurship at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and a Green Bay SCORE volunteer, has been coming up with business ideas for years. Curry’s entrepreneurial leanings impressed Kauth, and he recommended Curry for an intensive three-week European Innovation Academy in Turin, Italy.
“Cameron had experience working on his own business idea already, and had taken my introductory business course,” Kauth said. “I knew he could handle it intellectually, and he was enthusiastic about jumping right into this experience.”
That enthusiasm is obvious when talking to Curry about the course that he took in July. Working from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day, he was part of a team of six that spent three weeks developing a business idea.
“As a team, we came up with ‘NewsIt,’ an app to give you a world map to scroll around to different regions and read up on the biggest news in that region," Curry said. "In addition, when you are done reading an article, you can grade it on whether it is biased or not. The idea is to get a balanced view.”
He says that the issue with many people is that they follow one of the big news sources and think it has to be true because of the size of the news source. They don’t question the truth of the news.
Initially, the team focused on identifying fake news; especially stories coming from social media where many people spend their time and tend to believe what they read. But instead of identifying the questionable news, they decided it would be more beneficial to provide a trusted news source.
“One of the lessons emphasized was the ability to be agile,” Curry said. “A few times we had to turn our idea around based on suggestions from our mentors and what they thought we should try.”
Change was only one of the major topics. The course covered all aspects of business development with teams comprised of members with a variety of skills to typify an actual management team.
“We had multiple sections of the team — programmers, marketing, business and design," Curry said. "Teams were put together based on interest in a specific idea.”
Curry said that there were some great ideas in addition to NewsIt. One group came up with an app where you could plug a menu into your phone and get a 3D view of every item including nutritional content. Another app could analyze fish for mercury. Probably the most intimidating group had already secured substantial financing and were ready to launch.
“These are the future entrepreneurs," Curry said. "Everyone who went had an eye for business and applied because of that. It was a crazy, huge learning experience."
As the sophomore continues working toward a degree in computer science with a business minor, he plans to continue developing a business idea that he and a high school friend have and also will be working on NewsIt.
“The team members became friends and we are still in touch and talking about NewsIt and how we can make it a reality," Curry said. "Since we’re all back in school, we can’t devote full time to it, but we did create a business plan.”
They also signed a legal document that says one member can’t take the idea and start the business without the rest of the team. Curry is excited about what the future holds and highly recommends the program.
“If you’re planning on being an entrepreneur, this is an amazing, amazing program," he said. "It’s hard work, but you will learn how you can fast-track an idea and make it a reality."
Tina Dettman-Bielefeldt is co-owner of DB Commercial Real Estate in Green Bay and past district director for SCORE, Wisconsin.