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The next Mark Zuckerberg?

6 March 2011 By Daniel Gross, Editor-in-Chief 16 Comments
Towson senior creates goal-based social networking site

Before I Graduate - Casey Prather/ The Towerlight

Before I Graduate - Casey Prather/ The Towerlight

Towson senior creates goal-based social networking site

Social networking as we know it took off when Mark Zuckerberg sat in his Harvard dorm room writing countless lines of code and mapping out the layers of Facebook.

That scene isn’t too far off from the last 10 months of current Towson senior Steven Weinstein’s life. Weinstein has spent nearly all of his life savings building a new social networking website called Before I Graduate College. Before I Graduate College is a goal-based network that promotes social interaction, meeting up, and helping others cross off their goals before they graduate.

“I had always been interested in trying to figure out that million dollar idea,” Weinstein said.

Last April, the computer science major was sitting in a networking class and talking with one of his best friends. He said she was explaining what was on her “bucket list,” so he began to think of his own. He said he realized all of his goals could be in two distinct categories. One was for lifelong goals, like having a successful job and marrying the love of his life.

“The other was everything I wanted to do before I graduated college. So right there in class I bought the domain beforeigraduatecollege.com. Interesting class, but I wasn’t paying attention that day. And I’m glad.”

From that point on, the New Jersey native spent most of his time in his Rodgers Forge apartment in front of his computer, writing code and scheduling meetings with investors and Web designers. Originally, he took the idea to a close friend, Wesley Green from New Jersey, and another computer science major at Towson University, Joseph Furches. Furches was quick to react when he was first told of the idea.

“It was obvious to me that beforeigraduatecollege.com was a site idea that could really take off and flourish,” he said in an e-mail. “I wanted in so I could be a part of the effort to help people reach their dreams.”

The three quickly found that the greater their imaginations grew the greater and more difficult their project was to complete. So Weinstein contracted Baltimore-based company Emagine Web Consulting to complete the design, development and functionality of the site. In addition, Weinstein sought legal counsel, first hiring an attorney and later forming Before I Graduate College into a Limited Liability Company.

Weinstein had an internship in Manhattan with Deutsche Bank Americas, where he met the attorney who now represents the site.

Before I Graduate - Casey Prather/ The Towerlight

Before I Graduate - Casey Prather/ The Towerlight

“He said, ‘If you have such a great idea, I don’t even want to hear it because you don’t know who’s overhearing it,’” Weinstein said. “We went to grab a cup of coffee and I told my idea and he said, ‘I just have one question. Can I be your legal council?’”

Weinstein has spent roughly $30,000 on the site, both out of pocket and with help from friends and supporters. Furches said the site’s launch has been hurried significantly so they could get it up and running before getting too deep in their semester course load at TU.

“We would encourage everyone who uses the site to be patient as we try to get out of the ‘growing pains’ phase,” he said.

The site keeps track of your crossed-off goals and allows you to keep a log of what your goals are and who has provided feedback. Users must register either through name and e-mail or through a process called Facebook Connect that allows you to use your Facebook account to be a part of the site.

Getting the site to this point has been somewhat of a roller coaster in terms of time spent on the project, according to Weinstein.

“I honestly couldn’t even tell you how many hours I’ve put into this. I think about this all the time,” he said. “There were times when I was sitting at my desk in Manhattan and I had a little down time and I would just be thinking about this, taking notes on this, just brainstorming everything.”

Before I Graduate - Casey Prather/ The Towerlight

Before I Graduate - Casey Prather/ The Towerlight

Weinstein’s mother, Laurie, said she’s been in her son’s corner since first hearing about the project and has been with him through the ups and downs.

“He’s been very motivated to get this going, gotten frustrated when he had no control over how long it was taking, and very excited when he was able to see the progress made,” she said in an e-mail.

Ideally, Steven Weinstein would like the site to reach one million members.

“I want to be remembered as the person who launched this website with the help of people around me and was able to help lots of people do what they want to do,” he said.

By day one of the site’s launch, Steven Weinstein had posted his own first goal – launching Before I Graduate College. He now has one fewer goal to accomplish on his list.


16 Comments »

  • TUpride said:

    Love the idea, hope it works out. Wish him the best of luck!

  • Matt Sikorski said:

    It is stories such as these that make me proud to be a Tiger! Good luck with the site Steven! I hope it expands as quickly and successfully as the amount of work you have put into it!

  • Elliot Glotfelty said:

    Congrats steve!!

  • Darryl Glotfelty said:

    Yeaaa Steve! This is gonna be big!

  • Michael said:

    I already graduated college. Do I need a time machine to use this site?

  • Steven Weinstein said:

    Thanks everyone!

    Michael, nope, you can still use it! Just because you already graduated doesn’t mean you can’t have the same goals! It can also be used as a way for others to accomplish their goals – if you now have the means to help others accomplish their goals, help them out! You can filter by school so that you can help people at the school you graduated from who may have similar goals that you did.

    Enjoy!

  • Alex said:

    Great job Stev! Turning vision into reality…

    you are the man.

  • Anonymous said:

    Please rest assured that Mr. Weinstein is not in fact the next Mark Zuckerberg.
    Although Mr. Weinstein’s pretentious goals (including and limited to: “marrying the love of his life” and “trying to figure out that million dollar idea”) are moving and cliché, they are not revolutionary. In fact, they are mediocre at best. Mark Zuckerberg is famous because he invented something new, something iconic, something formally known as “the facebook.” Perhaps Mr. Weinstein should have spent more of his time and life savings working on something original rather than piggy backing off of someone else’s idea. It may have worked for Zuckerberg (remember the Winklevoss twins?) but as they say, lightening rarely strikes twice. I think the only real parallel that I can draw between Mr. Zuckerberg and Mr. Weinstein is that both boys spent a lot of time alone in their rooms

  • Anonymous said:

    ^ OK buzzkill, clearly lightening does strike twice because myspace was first.

  • Someonesjealous said:

    Sorry you didn’t think of it first, buddy. Also please realize the success of websites such as tfln or collegehumor.com– this has the potential of being just as, if not more successful. oh hey steve- while you were in your room all this time, how was that internship on wall street you did for the past how many months?
    …yeah that’s right…

  • Supporter said:

    No where in the article does he state that he’s trying to create a new Facebook. Ever heard of a niche? This is simply a social networking site with a specific focus and theme. Also, ever hear of Twitter? It’s a giant website devoted to making statuses. They piggy backed off of Facebook statuses, and I think they’re doing pretty well for themselves. If you don’t find beforeigraduatecollege.com a good idea, then don’t use it, plain and simple. But there are hundreds of others and soon to be thousands who would disagree with you.

    Awesome website! Great article.

  • Eric said:

    Hate to spoil the fun, but this was already done.

    http://www.43things.com/

  • Winklevoss Twin said:

    Think Eric just owned this entire concept.

    1) Before I Graduate College is too long a name. It’s took specific. You are pigeonholing yourself into a college audience when college students aren’t the only people with aspirations. Facebook was flexible, and while it did begin targeting college students, it was capable of expansion into a larger user base. Even if it took off, you wouldn’t be able to pull non-students into using it and once students graduate, would they bother coming back? You have to be re-building your audience every year as the seniors graduate.

    2) 43 Things has a slicker UI and rather than “being the next Facebook” it partners with the social networking mammoth syncing with Facebook Connect to promote the site and increase sharing capabilities.

    3) This Before I Graduate College idea could have a future, but not in the way it’s being presented. It could be a great tool if sold to university’s as a utility through student affairs, much in the same way Towson did the dating website or uses a platform for student group management. Before I Graduate College could be synced with existing student accounts upon admission into the school. A profile can be generated and during Orientation, students can be encouraged to write down a top 10 list, or short-term, long-term goals. Follow up with periodic check-ins through e-mail, allow students to push completed tasks to Facebook, offer private goals and public goals, so that there is a differentiation between what students want to share openly with friends, while keeping others to themselves that may be more personal.

    Oh the ideas just keep pouring out. I can’t stop.

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