Joseph Krieg, a finance senior at Stevens Institute of Technology, is an avid viewer of science fiction television shows. He’s a fan of HBO’s Game of Thrones, arguably the most buzzed about show on television right now. But he is also a huge fan of the Syfy series The Magicians, a show with a much lower profile and considerably smaller fan base.
“I watch a lot of shows that my friends don’t watch and I just wanted a way to connect with people who watch the same shows.”
So Krieg and two of his classmates from the School of Business at Stevens, Raisa Munshi, an information systems major, and Alicia Kohl, an economics major, teamed up to create Our Shows, a one-stop social media site solely for television fans.
“Profiles on other social media sites focus on who you already know. Our Shows offers a way to find the rest of the fan base of a show you're passionate about. Suggested connections will be based on preferences such as your television viewing history, rather than on things like where you went to school,” explains Kohl.
Creating a Platform for Time-Shifted Audiences
Unlike mainstream social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, which contain shareable promos and spoiler images of upcoming episodes, Our Shows promises to be spoiler free and take into account the delayed viewing habits of fans. That means fans who get their shows through streaming services, rather than watching them live, can connect with fans who are as far along in the series as they are.
“Our Shows allows users to post questions or discuss specific episodes for past and current seasons, making streaming a far less isolating experience than ever before,” Kohl said.
Also, fan interaction will be entirely user-generated, and promises to encourage deeper discussion beyond the re-postings and quick comments typically posted on existing forums and social media sites, says the team.
Dr. Ann Murphy, associate dean of undergraduate education at the School of Business, served as the team’s faculty advisor and was instrumental in keeping the team on track during the semesters-long process, encouraging them while making sure they were moving the project along.
“We had grandiose ideas and she would remind us, ‘you can’t go as far as you would like right at the moment, so just make the first version. She showed so much faith in our project and has been incredibly helpful in terms of advice and guidance,” said Kreig.
That’s not all, Murphy arranged to have the team meet with A&E Networks executives in New York City for feedback on their site.
“Dean Murphy reached out to her contacts in the entertainment industry to help us gain extremely valuable feedback on our project. They told us what they liked and didn’t like about the site, how to use the data, what shows to use, and some legal advice on the use of network properties,” recalled Munshi.
Murphy had high praise for the team and their long-term commitment to the project.
“Over the course of the year, they were incredibly hardworking, always open to feedback, and extremely knowledgeable about the market they are trying to penetrate. It will be fun to keep in touch with them and see where this goes,” she said.
Preparing for Expo, graduation and beyond
The team is currently beta-testing the site and plans to present it to the public at Stevens Innovation Expo May 2. But they have plans for Our Shows beyond Expo. After graduation, Munshi and Kohl will stay on at Stevens, pursuing an MBA and a master’s in information systems, respectively. That means they are eligible to become part of Stevens Venture Center. Acceptance into the university’s incubator would be significant for the fledgling business. Membership benefits would provide the team space, advice and expertise, and expose them to networking opportunities with potential investors, entrepreneurs and seasoned business people.
“We plan to launch sometime this year with a fully functional, beta-tested website and mobile apps. We hope to bring awareness to the site and eventually be able to partner with major networks to provide a unique experience for all of our users,” said Munshi.
Future plans for the site notwithstanding, the process of senior design provided a learning experience that will have a life-long impact, according to the team.
“Senior design helped us turn an idea that we are passionate about into a business. I've learned so much about what’s involved in starting a business, and hope we get to keep doing this for years to come,” Kohl.
Krieg, who had wavered between pursuing acting and going to college, says Stevens and the close-knit community of faculty and students at the School of Business gave him something he was lacking four years ago.
“I’m so much more focused now and have more direction and purpose than I did then. Having gone through this process of coming up with a business concept and turning it into a reality, I feel confident about my abilities and the choices I have in my life, whether that’s in business, acting, or both.”
See this project and many others at the 2018 Stevens Innovation Expo on May 2.