By: Suyash Gabriel
While studying at Harvard University in 2003, Mark Zuckerburg hacked into the university’s computer network, copied private dormitory ID images, and launched his first social media website, Facemash, attracting 450 visitors and 22,000 photo-views within the first four hours. A few years later, he launched Thefacebook.com and restricted membership to university students, attracting over half the students in the University to register in the first month.
Heading down a similar route, Luke Walton, a 26-year-old entrepreneur from the US, has launched a university-based social media venture in India called bevy.is. The concept of the site is to develop a platform where students can connect based on their university and subject of study. “Our hope is that this platform will result in meaningful relationships, more successful careers, and an engaging network supported by the shared experiences of receiving a university education and entering the international job market,” says Walton.
The website, which was developed by Waltons digital agency, 817 Group, was launched this April and covers 20 major universities in India, including Delhi University, Osmania University, Vellore Institute of Technology, University of Calcutta, University of Mumbai, Manipal University, and a few IITs.
It has registered over 11,000 users in just six weeks. After partnering with Bangalore-based consulting firm Codebrahma, which was founded by 24-year-old Anand Narayan, Walton and his firm decided to test the waters in India first, before instituting it on the global market. “People ask, ‘Why India?’ Obviously we think it’s a great market and has a diverse, unique education system. With a great partner in Anand, we are confident that we can build a great team. Our goal is to expand to 300 schools over the next 12 months,” he added.
The product includes networking features such as university feeds, following users, directories, private messaging and an events calendar. Walton and his group have raised US $ 200,000 in seed funding from supporters, friends and family. Charuka Arora, a 21-year-old entrepreneur and Delhi University alumni who uses the platform, says, “It’s the perfect platform to know what’s happening with upcoming batches and for alumni to promote their businesses. While the interface is still a little confusing and buggy, it is being developed constantly and has a lot of potential.”