Startup competition around chatbots and bots at the InNEVation Center Feb. 24-26 |

Startup competition around chatbots and bots at the InNEVation Center Feb. 24-26

Special to NNBW

Teams of students, faculty, and professionals will come together with the real-world mission of creating a business plan around bots and chatbots. No coding experience is needed; this hackathon is all about ideas. Teams will be comprised of multiple students and faculty members from more than ten journalism schools.

The winning team will be chosen based on the business’s viability, feasibility and desirability.

Reynolds School professor and host of the podcast “Grammar Girl,” Mignon Fogarty says the hackathon experience is invaluable to journalism and public relations students.

“Nieman Lab identified bots as one of the big journalism trends for 2017,” Fogarty said. “The skills to make bots are somewhat different from what students learn in traditional journalism classes, so an intensive weekend event like the hackathon is a great way for students to get up to speed in an area that could be valuable to media employers in the near future.”

How it Works

Students will be divided into teams and mentored by a faculty member or industry professional, with people from various schools and skill backgrounds on each team. Teams will spend the weekend working together to design, construct and pitch a startup business plan over the course of the weekend. The event will be a combination of focused talks, training from innovation leaders and final presentations from each team. Speakers include Colin Loretz, founder of the Reno Collective, Alberto Tretti from Facebook, Celeste LeCompte from ProPublica and University of Southern California Annenberg School Professor Amara Aguilar, as well as several others.

Competitors can register for the event at University students can use the offer code UNRCOMP at checkout to receive free admission.

Learn more about this event at an information night at the Reno Collective, Wednesday, Feb. 15.


Friday, Feb. 24

6-8 p.m.: Networking mixer at Reno Collective, 100 N. Arlington Ave., Suite 100, Reno, NV 89501

Snacks and non-alcoholic drinks; dinner afterwards on your own


Saturday, Feb. 25

Innevation Center, Stage 3, 2nd Floor

8 a.m. – Light breakfast

8:30 a.m. – Kickoff

Welcoming Remarks

Rules and logistics: Mark Glaser, MediaShift

9 a.m. – Speaker Session 1 – Human-Centered Design

9:30 a.m. – WORK

12:30 p.m. – Lunch

1 p.m. – Speaker Session 2 – Bots Marketplace: Colin Loretz, Reno Collective

1:30 p.m. – WORK

6 p.m. – Dinner

6:30 p.m. – Speaker Session 3 – Marketing and Your Business Plan: Celeste LeCompte, ProPublica

7 p.m. – Mentors and facilitators meet up Siena Hotel; teams continue to work with students only

Siena Hotel: 1 Lake St, Reno, NV 89501

10 p.m. – Night program ends


Sunday, February 26

Innevation Center, Stage 3, 2nd Floor

8:30 a.m. – Light breakfast

9 a.m. – Speaker session 4 – How to Present Your Startup: Dusty Wunderlich, Bristlecone Holdings

9:30 a.m. – WORK on presentations

11:30 a.m. – Lunch for judges

Noon – Lunch for everyone; team presentations

1:30 p.m. – Judging in chambers

2 p.m. – Announcement of winners and closing remarks


Follow the action on Twitter: #jschoolhackathon.