How a Student Startup at UNC Makes Business Learning Real

    by Abby Reimer
    January 21, 2015
    Reese News Lab students vote on ideas for media products to pursue.

    The Kinethics team members came back from winter break much more prepared than we had been last August. After a successful Pitch Day, we wrote a proposal outlining how we would build and test our prototype for interactive compliance training during the next semester.reese

    That’s right: My team of four women dreamed up a new product — a culturally specific and interactive compliance training service that provides exclusive employee feedback regarding the ethical status of the company. And this semester we’re working on launching it.

    "We’re not just students or interns anymore. Our decisions with Kinethics will have real monetary impact."

    The bible for our training program is the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a law that, in very simple terms, prohibits American companies and agents from bribing foreign officials. The first thing we needed to do was learn the act ourselves.


    lessons learned: a breakdown of the law

    We broke up the 100 pages of the Justice Department’s guide to the act and each wrote a “cheat sheet” for our section.

    My section was the “Anti-Bribery Provisions.” It was long, complicated and intensely fascinating (at least to me). We’ve all learned that the law is much less cut-and-dry than we thought before.

    I’ve always enjoyed reading, even dry material. After all, I’m a journalist. But there was something different about reading and knowing I didn’t just have to take a test or write an article at the end. The end game here is a real business.


    This week-and-a-half has been a whirlwind of “real.” So real, in fact, that I can’t even write about it online.

    tying in lessons from classes

    I’ve learned more about business in the last week than I have in any of those classes. Now, I go to all of my classes and think about how they tie into Kinethics.

    In Media Ethics, I think about how to use the principle of “right vs. right” in our training.

    In Operations, I try to decide how we will forecast demand in the future.

    We’re not just students or interns anymore. Our decisions with Kinethics will have real monetary impact.

    This week has at times been stressful, exciting and tedious. But most of all, it’s been real.

    Abby Reimer is a junior reporting major and business minor at UNC-Chapel Hill. She loves interactive storytelling, investigative reporting and well-designed chairs. She is the editor of Carolina Eats, a multimedia food publication. It is her first year at Reese News Lab. Check out her work on abbycarolina.wordpress.com or follow her on Twitter at @reim_master.

    This story originally appeared on Reese News Lab.

    reese2Reese News Lab is an experimental news and research project based at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The lab was established in 2010 with a gift from the estate of journalism school alum Reese Felts. The Lab develops and tests new ideas for the media industry in the form of a “pre-startup.” Teams of students research ideas for media products by answering three questions: Can it be done? Does anyone actually need this? Could it sustain itself financially? To answer these questions, students create prototypes, interview and survey potential customers, and develop business strategies for their products. Students document their recommendations on whether they believe a product will work and then present their ideas to the public.

    Tagged: journalism kinethics reese news lab startups unc

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