Inside Navlit: Kenny Cohen talks about the new social media solution to group collaboration
Tufts entrepreneur Kenny Cohen is one of the three founders of Navlit, a new social media platform specifically for group collaboration. Given the recent launch of the site in Private Beta stage at Tufts University, I approached Kenny, -both a brother and colleague of mine- to see what Navlit is all about from the inside.
Q: So talk to me about Navlit, what is it and where did the idea come from?
A: The idea for Navlit was a result of our frustration with how difficult it was to stay in touch with friends using long email chains and messaging threads. With emails, it seemed like all of our conversations were lost in our inbox over time, which made them hard to reference at a later date. With messaging threads, it was difficult to hold multiple conversations simultaneously. Basically we saw that we were sharing less with our friends because there wasn’t really a social, private, and organized platform for us to use. John came to me with this problem, and Navlit was born.
Q: What is the central goal of Navlit as a social media platform/network? Where/what part of Navlit has the most potential to be a success or a gamechanger in social media?
A: Our primary goal is to provide a private platform for groups to collaborate in a social and organized way. There is not another site where groups can hold multiple conversations simultaneously while maintaining a social feel and emphasis on sharing all forms of content.
Q: So where does a name like Navlit come from?
A: The name Navlit came from users navigating around their groups, which we call fires. The feeling you get when sharing around a lit fire is very secure, and we want our users to have that same feeling when using the site.
Q: What makes it different from other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter? What can you do on Navlit that you cannot do elsewhere?
A: We view Navlit as a complement to Facebook and Twitter. Since we are specializing in private group collaboration, we are able to create a more focused platform that emphasizes the needs of group communication. Users don’t have to worry about setting up profiles or privacy settings, which makes for a much simpler process on an individual level. For groups, we offer a platform that can hold multiple simultaneous conversations, which helps facilitate meaningful conversations online in a familiar way.
Q: Do you intend to use other platforms to boost awareness and use of your site?
A: We definitely plan on utilizing existing social media platforms to reach users. We have an active Facebook page (facebook.com/navlit) and Twitter feed (@navlit). These resources are great ways for us to connect with both our existing and future users, and we plan on using them heavily going forward.
Q: Sophomore at Tufts, Quant Econ major, you got your hands full already. I can’t imagine this is an easy thing to be doing on top of all that, so what’s your motivation for starting this site?
A: It’s easy to make time for something you are genuinely passionate about. We definitely have to make sacrifices with work or social plans, but everyone on our team is dedicated to our goals and excited about where we are going with the product.
Q: Who are your partners? Who’s in charge of what and what will you be doing now that you launched your site?
A: Our team is the following:
John Brennan: Co-Founder
Kenneth Cohen: Co-Founder
Mark Timmerman: Co-Founder, Head Developer
Now that we are up and running at Tufts, we just want to keep improving the existing version of the site while trying to reach out to new users on campus. We really want to create a strong base at Tufts so we can receive valuable feedback as we move forward. We are focusing on connecting with college campuses, as we feel that the site will be especially useful for students. We are looking into various incubator programs and will hopefully continue working on the site through the summer.
Q: What are Navlit’s next objectives as a social media network?
A: We just want to continue to work on our product and improve the user experience on the site. As a small team, we are able to iterate changes to the site quickly, which is especially helpful in these early stages. We have some big long-term ideas that will hopefully make Navlit the primary place for group collaboration online.
Keep up with Kenny and Navlit on Twitter!