UA student develops social media site
For two years, Rohan Rao has been working on making the next big social media site.
Rao, a management information systems senior set to graduate in May, has been developing his own beta app Channel Links, which is set to launch this week.
Channel Links is currently a website, and it’s being programmed to become an app. Rao has been working with programmers to help encode and update the forum’s page.
The site allows users to post existing videos, share videos with friends and like, comment and tag, just like current social media sites.
The platform is meant to be an easier way of posting videos, with an easy act of “copy and paste.” Rao said he got the idea for Channel Links after seeing one of his friends post a video on Facebook.
“I always thought that it would be funny if this kid had a channel just of all the videos he posted,” Rao said. “I also thought the same thing with another friend that posted cool music videos, if he could have a channel with all these different music videos.”
The main purpose is to share different videos from around the web and post them under different channels.
“There are billions of videos on the internet and not one way [to] discover and share them at the same time,” said Ryan Molton, a political science junior who is helping Rao promote the site. “Channel Links serves that purpose in ways that other social media doesn’t, it centralizes the process of posting and sharing different videos.”
Rao contacted Molton a couple of months ago, after seeing work on commercials that he has done for other UA students’ start-up companies, such as NoteBowl.
The current layout is being developed by Jenny Wendt, a UA alumna. Rao said Wendt is working to help make the app look better for the soft launch this week.
Rao said that his background in MIS has really helped throughout the process. Rao also credits the Eller College of Management for helping motivate him in all the classes he’s taken.
“Being in a business environment and hearing about start ups and companies [that] succeed and fail, it’s just nice to get an input from the business background,” Rao said.
Francisco Almada, a pre-business freshman, said he agrees that Eller helps prepare prospective entrepreneurs through specific classes.
“How you finish with school can directly determine if you will succeed in starting your own business,” Almada said. “The struggle won’t necessarily be starting it, but whether or you are able to make money and able to pay off your student loans.”
Almada said he also hopes to eventually start a web app.
Other departments around the UA are also helping students develop web apps. The School of Journalism has classes on multimedia and entrepreneurial web apps taught by Mike McKisson, an assistant professor of journalism.
McKisson said the entrepreneurial class teaches students to start thinking about opportunities in the news marketplace, and using their skills to possibly create a company rather than working for a traditional newspaper.
The mobile web app classes teach students in-depth programming, encoding and how to launch their own websites.
“What I find often is that students get bogged down with classes that some of their creations go by [the] wayside because of next semester,” McKisson said. “My goal is to give them skills so they can do it again.”
Before graduation, Rao said, his goal is to obtain 1,500 users on Channel Links.
“I have really high hopes to pursue this,” Rao said. “I’ve gone through a lot of trouble doing this, I wouldn’t have intentions of doing it if I knew it was going nowhere.”
McKisson said there are very few business successes that happen overnight. In reality, he said, companies have to work very hard at first without money in order to succeed. He advises enterprising students to talk to as many people as they can and utilize all available resources.
“It’s not something that’s easy, but for a person with the right mindset and drive, starting their own company is great,” McKisson said. “There is no better time for young people to start their own companies.”