Connecting students on campus

The goal was simple: Make life on campus easier for college students.

Campus Society, a D.C.-based social networking website, hopes to connect university students through an online forum for buying books, rating professors and connecting socially.

The website borrows functions from other social networking websites, but differentiates itself from Facebook and Twitter in its exclusivity, allowing only “.edu” e-mail addresses to register. Its founders explain that their goal was to make social media functional for students. They feel filtering out users who do not attend college will eliminate the “white noise” found online, streamlining their collegiate-centered content.

“We’re trying to make college life easy,” Rashid Ajami a senior at Georgetown and co-founder of Campus Society, along with his cousin Oliver Muller, said. “We found it a bit difficult to get things done on campus. We’re trying to concentrate everything in one place.”

Students will be able to advertise events, answer questions and recommend tutors and professors – providing an online platform for both academic and social conversation. Campus Society also hopes to connect students eager to buy and sell books as an alternative to Amazon or eBay.

“We lean towards ‘function’ as opposed to ‘socializing,’ although we do want the experience to be fun, with a social aspect,” Ajami said.

The funding for Campus Society comes from investors in London and the Middle East who are eager to see the website launch. Within its first year, the venture secured close to $1 million, Ajami said.

Ajami has found that establishing a start-up certainly comes with its own bevy of challenges. From sticking to a budget, to finding ways to cut costs, the company strives to produce the best final product while staying within means.

Beyond finances, finding the right people to fill the right roles has been a struggle, he said. Ajami selected individuals who could provide tech help, marketing strategies, design advice and PR, while maintaining the integrity of the company. Ajami said the group focused on branding themselves and connecting with university students.

“Because we were in different locations, we made use of communication tools like Skype and e-mails, but more importantly, travel,” Sophia Chumburidze, head of marketing and graduate of the GW School of Business, said.

Campus Society hired 10 interns from GW and Georgetown, and is hosting on-campus events to spread the word about the site launch. Currently, the company is targeting the D.C. community, with launchings at GW, Georgetown, American University and George Mason University this spring.

“The goal is to slowly bring all students at the university to the site to create a society,” Ajami said. “With time, if the site gains popularity, it should become easier for students to find things and get things done.”

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