George Sehremelis realized that Americans were relying on social media to find news stories but were frustrated by the role Facebook and Twitter played in disseminating fake news. The recent graduate of USC’s Marshall School of Business asked himself that Where is The Social News Network? Not finding it, the young entrepreneur decided to build it. After a semester of validating his concept in my small business management class, Sehremelis and his startup, Overlooked, entered the USC Incubator at the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. Over the next year, he developed and then launched the Overlooked app and Overlooked.com under the guidance of the Incubator Director, Paul Orlando.
Overlooked founder, George Sehremelis has been a news hound since his youth.
Sehremelis’ passion to fight fake news is grounded in real world tragedies. His own family comes from Distomo, a small town in Greece that was the site of a tragic massacre in World War II. The Distomo atrocity was committed by Nazi soldiers in reprisal for a falsely reported partisan attack against their troops. This history made Sehremelis sensitive to the abuse of information and he found the same sorts of disaster still occurring today.
Sehremelis grew up with a news addiction. Much of his childhood was spent glued to television sets, consuming cable news. College, however, exposed this newshound to a population that took their news far more casually. To his horror, Sehremelis recognized that social media was the primary source of news for his friends and classmates. The customer validation surveys he performed in my class revealed that 89% of college students found their news on social media! He realized that we needed a safer place for people to share news articles with their friends.
Sehremelis’ background in business and his interest in data science bolstered his media edge. The Overlooked team launched their mobile application January 21, 2020 and it has a 4.9/5 rating with 75 reviews in the IOS app store. Just a few weeks after getting started, Overlooked.com has over 5,900 unique monthly users at their website. Using social media to find users, they have accumulated 1,820 Instagram followers, 2,750 Facebook likes, 2,700 LinkedIn connections and 2,650 Twitter followers. Their will expand their user acquisition strategy into partnering with reputable news organizations to onboard audiences.
Watching bots and fake accounts rise up to interfere in the 2020 Election, just as they did in the 2016 Election, disturbs Sehremelis. The Overlooked model enables publishers to drive their digital content and advertising. Sehremelis said that Publishers that partner with us are able to decrease their reliance on print newspapers and drastically increase their digital capabilities without having to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in technical development. Sehremelis added that his team strategically targets university newspapers who need that sort of help and who provide a great base from which to build lifelong users. Piotr Rojek, a 32-year-old senior developer from Poland, is the Overlooked CTO and was hooked on the idea from the start. Sehremelis’ team built custom web scrapers for each news network featured on the Overlooked platform. The platform is a mirror reflection of whatever network they are pulling from.
The Overlooked team is now working to bring on users as quickly as possible. The current period of social distancing may actually be a boon for the app and it presents little challenge to the Overlooked team as they are able to focus on growing their customer base during this period of remote work. They’ve always worked virtually, utilizing communication technologies like Zoom.