By Lisa Romero, BIO5 Institute
A UA senior and an alumnus partnered to develop a mobile application that would help users connect on multiple social media sites, simultaneously.
While meditating on a beach in India, then-University of Arizona senior Michael Jacobs came up with an idea to find people on social networks in a way that is faster, easier and more convenient.
The idea: to develop a social media app that allows for instant connections on multiple social networks accounts, simultaneously.
SociaLink, which Jacobs would develop with his classmate and friend Hector Rosales, does exactly that.
"We were actually meditating on the beach and he (Jacobs) pulls out his leather book and it had the actual drawings of how the app looks now with a few changes," said Rosales, SociaLink co-founder and a UA senior studying business economics and entrepreneurship.
"He was like, 'You know the problem we've been having connecting with locals and professionals and not knowing how to spell their names? What if there was a way we can connect with them instantly?'"
The app uses Bluetooth for instant connections on multiple social networks account. Only once do users have to set up their personal social accounts, then they can select nearby devices and connect immediately with friends. Out of five sites, users have the option to select which social networks they want to connect.
The free Apple application was released on Dec. 12, 2012. Since its launch, the app has received 5,500 downloads and now has a new feature that allows users to connect via e-mail to those who do not have the app.
The app currently supports LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter. Now, Jacobs and Rosales are looking to add Vine, Google+ and Snapchat.
While still in India and with the idea of SociaLink in mind, the two contacted software companies in Bangalore, India. After interviewing 10 different companies, the duo hired the software development company Snyxius, paying a $5,500 contracting fee with funding support from their families and friends.
Rosales and Jacobs are working on improving the app by introducing an Android version. They also are working to expand the team and are in the process of looking for a new iOS and Android developer, said Jacobs. Over the summer the team brought on five interns, four from the UA and one from Harvard University.
As for the duo, the process of creating SociaLink has been an ongoing learning experience, Jacobs said.
"We saw it can be a success and we still do. We want to really put all of our effort into it and to see what we can do with it," Jacobs said. "It's shaping up to everything we thought it would be."
Rosales and Jacobs have been featured in Entrepreneur magazine, and the app is open to users all over the world.
"I honestly was going into this project not knowing what was going to come out of it," Rosales said. "The market is very saturated; if you want to be one of the top apps you got to work hard. I didn't know we were going to come this far."