For Rhode Island native Nathan Miranda, co-founder of MeetMyCampus, starting his own business was always a part of the plan. He just never knew what he wanted to focus it on.
Until, that is, he was on vacation in California, reflecting on his life up to that point. “I asked myself, ‘what do I regret in life?’” He said. “I never decided to explore and get away from my comfort zone.” He realized that not attending a university of some sort was one of the consequences of that decision.
For fun, he started Googling colleges to get a feel for different campuses — a way to retroactively decide where he would have gone to school, should he have made that choice.
To his dismay, he couldn’t easily find information on the universities he looked up, beyond their official pages or a handful of third parties’ formal analyses. The closest resource he found to what he had in mind was RateMyProfessor.com, which “is cool, but it’s one concept,” he said.
Instead of descriptions powered by PR-speak or data-driven lists, Miranda wanted to know from the students themselves what going to a particular school was really like. His frustration got him thinking more in-depth as to what a resource like that could be. Eventually, he settled on the idea that college kids — rising, or otherwise — could benefit from a platform that not only gave the an authentic taste of a specific university, but also an opportunity to unify around shared activities, campus events, and interesting ideas. MeetMyCampus was born.
“I want to be the person who can bring a quarter of Facebook’s [success] and bring those opportunities to our community.”
Essentially, “I want to have a platform for college kids to socialize on,” he said, and that vision has spurred how the app was designed. Johnson and Wales University student and MMC co-founder Jason Felix has helmed the engineering elements of MeetMyCampus, Miranda said.
The concept for the forthcoming site and app is pretty simple: students create a profile, select their school (or the school they’re interested in), and search events and groups in which they’d want to partake. There’s also the option for users to upload and create their own events or groups, as well as a space to review campus offerings and learn the basics about the school itself. MMC’s minimum viable product form will launch this fall, in conjunction with what Miranda calls a three-month #campuschallenge, “awarding one new random member with a $500 Visa gift card.”
Miranda added that MMC will also eventually include forums, a place to advertise tutoring services, and an option to share photos. “The more innovative stuff will start to come when we start getting our users and the brand starts picking up,” he said, adding that the app and site will start as a free service, open to schools across the country.
To Miranda, the opportunity to helm a startup like MeetMyCampus is both a passion project and the realization of a dream. “I want to start something that will change my culture and my generation,” he said. “It’s incredible to have a purpose and doing what you want to do every single day.”
And so far, this purpose-driven work belongs to his team alone. “We’re 50/50 cofounders,” he said, describing the equity structure. “We have not gone after any investors; it’s our little thing up onto this point.”
What does a MeetMyCampus win look like to Miranda? [Helping prospective students] “narrow the schools down — that would be a success,” he said, adding that MeetMyCampus is in large part about making the choice for schools easier and helping students feel empowered and informed when making choices about their education.
Of equal import to Miranda is keeping the MeetMyCampus operation in Rhode Island. “I’m from Providence, I’m from Cranston, I’m from Rhode Island,” he said. “Everyone who’s had a taste of something has decided to move. I want to be the person who can bring a quarter of Facebook’s [success] and bring those opportunities to our community. We’re going to stay right here in Rhode Island.”