When Facebook first debuted, I graduated from college that year, and saw it as something a bit passé for my taste, and figured I’d most likely would never touch. Well, after hitting my head several times on my monitor for being completely foolish, I woke up and become cheerfully addicted, and since then has helped shape my career as a digital marketer.
However, one aspect I was never really able to experience was being in school with the power of a social network, to see who was on my campus, what insane things happened at a certain dormitory, or pictures of that kegger that I’ll regret forever. Ahhh…well fast-forward life 8 years later, and now there’s a chance! The college youth of world finally can take back social networking with a newly launched site from NY-based entrepreneur Josh Weinstein, CollegeOnly.
The site is restricted to college networks only; sorry gang, you need an official college email to join. So now sharing photographs, trading juicy gossip, and obsessing about that girl in Physics II can all be experienced in the privacy of your very own social network!
And Weinstein has a good idea of what college kids want as well, he has already launched two start-ups in his youthful career, both geared toward the student body. RandomDorm, which was basically Chatroulette for college students, and GoodCrush, a collegiate matchmaking service.
Constructing this network of college-oriented sites had Weinstein thinking of building one centralized site that can handle the power of both previous sites and wrap it into an exclusive social network experience for just college students.
The site just launched last Wednesday, and is currently in beta for just a few select schools, but Weinstein said that it’s already exceeded their expectations in sign-ups. And more schools are going to be added over the coming weeks, Weinstein said, and could soon be arriving at YOUR university or college.
Do I Like This?
I asked for a login or demo to try the platform out, but I was shun! And it’s OK, it should be that way – college kids only! But, from the media kit, it appears similar to Facebook where you can see status updates of EVERYONE (not just your friends/connections), what’s happening on campus, pictures and events. And all within the comfort of knowing your parents, employers, and high school friends won’t ever get to see what you are doing. In addition, students will be able to post messages in certain categories, such as “Missed Connections,” so students can obsess over other classmates – I mean that in a good way. Another group labeled “After Party” will also help students connect and gossip over all the weekend’s past events.
And from what I can tell, it seems the picture feature is going to be quite the draw, imagine pictures of all those crazy times that just you and your college friends can see.
Who Pays For This?
Good question! The project in fact does have a notable backing behind them, with venture capitalists that have invested nearly $1.15 million; from SoftBank Capital, FirstMark Capital, as well a noteworthy angel investors, David Kidder & Peter Thiel. He was one of the early investors in Facebook.
Now, you can’t have a social network and not have privacy issues, that’s just blasphemy. But seriously, you can’t; so referencing the CollegeOnly blog, the team is being very careful about who has access to the site.
First off, each college seems to have a moderator or two attached to it, and I am sure that will grow with popularity, including current students on-campus. Secondly, what if a teacher or over-friendly janitor wants to join in the fun? Well, thankfully there is a repository of email addresses that CollegeOnly will be able to cross-reference and restrict from the website. In addition, users can also submit a list of email addresses of any teachers or administrators so they can be permanently banned from the site as well.
With Vampire Weekend’s song “The Kid’s Don’t Stand a Chance” playing ever so softly in the background at the moment, and most people questioning why bother battling what Facebook already does brilliantly? I simply cannot agree with that – I think CollegeOnly has a tremendous opportunity here.
If we look at the space as it is now, every kid and their mother is trying to get into this game, and Josh has done something very simple, and brilliant at the same time – he’s gone back to the original “Facebook” roots and is intending to keep this as a closed network that will be exclusive for each individual campus. And if Josh and his team are as smart as I think they are, and with angel investors like Thiel involved in the project, they are priming this venture for a large scale build-out.
Truthfully, there is no real site in existence that is both a trustworthy and spam-free website that can call itself a college only social network. The potential for Josh and his team to take advantage of the market at this time is prime. One site that I wrote about last year, CampusLive, seemingly might be similar at first glance, but they act more as an aggregator of a user’s current social networks and specific campus resources, as compared to CollegeOnly that acts as an entirely new experience just for YOUR campus. Once viewership increases and additional schools start to come aboard, I see a great potential for CollegeOnly to generate revenue in terms of school partnerships and other media opportunities.
Of course, viewership needs to grow before getting to this stage, and Josh confirmed that CollegeOnly has no plans for generating revenue any time soon. As it should be, and as the other big boys have done it, his intentions are to grow first, monetize second.
See CEO Josh Weinstein Explain his social network: