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Student-Run Root57 Celebrates UI and C-U Tech

11/17/2010 6:22:00 AM Josh Holat, Computer Science

Where do internet users commonly go to find the latest news about technology and startups nowadays? Well, probably a site such as TechCrunch or Wired who have made quite a name for themselves. However, it’s easy to get caught up in Silicon Valley fever at sites such as those. That’s a problem that Root57, a new technology and startup blog focusing on innovation in Champaign Urbana, hopes to solve. Dubbing the area “Silicon Prairie,” founder and computer engineering student Roshan Choxi hopes he can “excite the community here about the incredible entrepreneurship and innovation stories going on.” This vision as well as Roshan’s experiences working for merge.fm, a local startup, and becoming president of the Illini Entrepreneurship Network (IEN) are what inspired him to get the initial groundwork laid down for Root57.

After pitching his idea at IdeaStorms hosted by IEN and talking to some of his mentors here at UIUC, Roshan went on to recruit the help of fellow students to help him get content on the site. The first two recruits were Roshan’s cofounder Dan Glazer who also cofounded EatCU and writer Dan Vidakovich, and the site launched on March 31st. What was the first article? None other than Roshan’s vision of Champaign Urbana as the “Silicon Prairie.” “[The site] actually looked pretty bad and my article was mostly just opinionated fluff, but it was good to have something launched,” admits Roshan. However, that’s all if took to get the eyes of others interested in the idea. Since Root57 launched, they’ve lost a writer or so but have gained plenty more such as computer science students Sam Johnson and Josh Holat, and advertising student David Weil. “[W]e slowly started to pick up steam as we broadened our coverage” and recruited more writers says Roshan.

Where is all of this headed? “To me, the ultimate goal would be to turn Root57 into a sustainable business to ensure that we stick around and can continue to give the local tech scene the coverage that it has always deserved,” believes Roshan. I’d have to agree with him on that statement. The Champaign-Urbana area has plenty of great ideas and people executing on them everyday. It’s great to finally see a site devoted to finding these accomplishments and highlighting them in a way that makes it easy for the people here as well as everywhere to find out about it. Want to help out? We’d love to see you reading our material and commenting on our content. It’s great to see people get excited about what’s going on in Champaign Urbana.