A social networking site exclusive to Cal Poly students was launched last Monday by industrial engineering junior Johnson Nakano. Unlike other networking sites, such as Facebook and Myspace, MyCollegeLoop.com is solely event-based.
“The idea is not to keep people online,” Nakano said. “My vision is to let people go on and find something else to do.”
My College Loop is for Cal Poly students, clubs and affiliates. Users can create events and use Google Maps to tell students where it is.
“Our site has the potential to become the platform where Cal Poly students share events that are important to them,” co-founder Joel Camacho said. “We thought it would be great to create a networking Web site that actually encouraged real-life interaction.”
Camacho and Nakano had the idea about 18 months ago while sitting at home, bored, during summer break. Nakano expressed his idea of creating a site from which students could find out what’s going on around their college so that the phrase “there’s nothing to do” wouldn’t be an option anymore.
From there, Nakano asked Andrew Huard, Nakano’s roommate, to help program the basics of the site, but eventually employed professional programmers to create it.
“Honestly I’d probably just stick to Facebook,” animal science junior Sarah Gartland said. “It sounds like it would be more useful to someone who is new in town or had just moved (here). I’ve been here for three years, ya know, and I know where most everything is.”
The pair will try to make it more user-friendly and accessible than Facebook by allowing users to search under different categories and filter out excess events that they aren’t interested in.
One of the biggest challenges in creating the site is the time difference between the co-founders. Camacho is in Beijing studying abroad and Nakano is here in San Luis Obispo. The 16-hour time difference forces communication via Skype at odd hours of the day. The team is also funding the site out of their own pockets.
Aside from budgetary issues, communication with programmers was one of the biggest challenges the team met.
“(The site) just wasn’t as solid as I wanted it to be. Communicating what I wanted, my vision, to the programmers wasn’t always easy,” Nakano said while talking about having to push back the release date several times. “Once the friends and Google Maps feature was finished, I was confident enough in the basics of the site to open it to the public.”
Nakano revealed some of what users should expect to see in the future. Features like online ticketing (called Stamps) will allow users to purchase tickets to events online. The site will also eventually allow users to upload their schedules to the site. This will create an avatar on their Google Map that shows their friends where they are at any given time.
Both students plan to maintain the site long after they’re done with college. MyCollegeLoop.com is scheduled to be complete before September 2010. Its Beta 1.0 version is already open to anyone with a Cal Poly e-mail address.
“By creating a profile you become part of ‘the loop,’” Camacho said. “Yesterday was the last day you were clueless about what was happening on campus.”