Indian American Teen Entrepreneurs Set to Launch World’s First Science Social Network
Arnav Chakravarthy (l) and Arvind Kumar, two uniquely talented 15-year-old Indian American students from Cupertino, Calif., have created the world’s first science social network called SciLynk, which aims to connect students, professors, and research professionals in the STEM industry. “We want SciLynk to be the biggest online science presence that helps boosts students, professors, and researchers’ careers, and in the end, catalyzes all progress in science,” Chakravarthy told India-West. (photos provided)
By REENA RATHORE/India-West Staff Reporter
Social media gives you the opportunity to break down boundaries and develop connections. And though you may find a plethora of social media platforms to choose from, one that caters specifically to the scientific community is missing. Step in Arnav Chakravarthy and Arvind Kumar, two trailblazing Indian American high school students and tech enthusiasts who have exhibited that entrepreneurship has no age and that it only takes one person – in this case, two – to inspire change.
The Cupertino, Calif.-based 15-year-olds have created the world’s first science social network called SciLynk, a comprehensive platform that aims to connect students, professors, and research professionals in the STEM industry.
“SciLynk aims to connect the scientific community through advanced networking features and career-specific tools. It is an online space that was created to serve as an all-in-one science hub, where every action related to science should be available!” Chakravarthy, a freshman at Homestead High School and the CEO and founder of SciLynk, told India-West. “Things like asking and answering questions, publishing experiments and articles, or even seeking careers are just a few of the things you can do on SciLynk.”
SciLynk, whose mission is to “revolutionize scientific communications,” is going to be a completely free platform, and will be accessible to every science enthusiast, no matter what level they are at, noted Chakravarthy.
Here’s an overview of four selling points that SciLynk has to offer: several science groups, ranging from immunology to astrophysics, that have their own activity feeds, discussions/forums, members, documents, photos and media, and albums; an all-new science messaging system via which private messages can be shared or group chats can be created; cutting-edge discussion forums to enable a free flow of information. Users will be able to follow and subscribe to certain forums and even receive email notifications, should they choose to, to discussions they are interested in. Forums also feature nested replies for organization and ease of use; and user-written blogs with built-in nested comment threads to enable discussions.
Chakravarthy and Kumar, who met online through a mutual friend during the summer of 2020, bonded over their love for science and technology.
“We both share an entrepreneurial spirit and we love to create new things,” said Chakravarthy. “Both of us are also voracious readers and I think that’s what really contributed to our passion and curiosity in science!”
Driven by the shared belief that more opportunities should exist for students in science, the duo aligned their hearts and minds to the project.
“SciLynk started through a conversation that Arvind and I were having…We were bouncing off ideas on how we could both get lab internships for our respective fields (his being psychology and mine being biotech),” Chakrabarty recalled to India-West. “We found the difficulty in even reaching out to professors a bit ridiculous, so we came up with the idea of creating a small messaging platform where students could reach out to nearby professors and ask them for career advice and possibly internships.”
The more the duo got invested in the project, the more they realized that they need to scale up its reach for optimal results.
“We decided that just a simple messaging platform wouldn’t have a real wow factor even though it was unique and useful. Sure, you can communicate with professors nearby, but that would be the only thing you can do,” explained Chakravarthy. “There was still so much space to explore in the world of online scientific communication. So, after a month of talking about our messaging platform, we decided that we should try to completely fill up this void and create an all-in-one solution that is accessible to every science-lover globally.”
Their idea, he told India-West, eventually evolved into a full-scale social network, with posts, connections, messaging, groups, forums, etc., and also piqued the interest of everyone in school.
“When we ran the idea by our friends and teachers, they loved the idea and were keen on signing up,” he said.
Currently, the two are doing all the heavy lifting but are working towards building a team, “people who are good at marketing, media, and maybe, in the future, some developers,” he said.
“The platform became more than just a project to us…we look forward to launching it as soon as possible,” said Kumar, SciLynk’s chief operating officer and a sophomore at Lynbrook High School. “Arnav and I have worked hours every day developing, planning, and managing the business side of our site.”
These are some of the most challenging times to be an entrepreneur, but Chakravarty noted that meeting Kumar was a silver lining of the pandemic.
“During our summer vacation, Arvind and I felt that we were just whiling away time and that we should work towards something meaningful. The pandemic has definitely affected our work, as we always work remotely, however, I think that our constant communications with each other compensate for the lack of in-person interaction. Arvind and I message each other every day over logistics and site development, and we have gotten quite a bit done despite the circumstances.”
Brimming with enthusiasm, Chakravarthy said he is confident of their long-term vision and its path to achieve it, with a little bit of help.
“I believe that we can grow SciLynk into a huge social network with millions of users,” Chakravarthy told India-West. “The online world is huge, and so is the scientific community. Up to this point, there have been no real science networks online that allow everyone to sign up no matter what level they are at. We want SciLynk to be the biggest online science presence that helps boosts students, professors, and researchers’ careers, and in the end, catalyzes all progress in science.”
The duo plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign to help fund their enterprise.
“Right now, our goal is at around $10,000. Since the platform has been fully developed, we are trying to slash the goal price as much as possible just so that it can cover servers, licenses, legal, and marketing,” Chakravarty shared with India-West. “We chose Kickstarter as it is a community backer source, and what better way is there to raise funds for a community application than through a community fundraiser! With our Kickstarter, we hope to build a community of backers who all believe in our product.”
To follow their work online or to sign up for an account, visit www.scilynk.com.