DETROIT — Students are using Facebook and Twitter all the time, but for most, it’s hardly something they’d like future employers — or college admission counselors — to see. That’s a problem that will soon be in the rear-view mirror, if new startup Meritful is successful.
Meritful is a platform where high school students aged 13-18 can create a professional online identity while hooking into mentorship opportunities in education and the workforce. The company launches into public beta on Monday.
“College admissions officers look for you online,” says chief executive and newly-minted comp-sci PhD Azarias Reda, who used to work for LinkedIn. “So it’s really important to have a great polished profile on the web.”
LinkedIn itself is not an option: Kids are not welcome, and due to LinkedIn’s work history orientation, it’s not suitable either. And the existing portfolio sites, Reda argues, lack the mentorship opportunities Meritful provides.
In addition, they lack connection to schools.
For the past six months, Reda and his team have been working with four Michigan high schools in a private beta. Next week, the platform will be open to the world. Schools can join, bringing their students with them. But Reda is most excited about individual students sharing the network with their friends and growing virally.
“We want it to be something that students do because it’s cool,” he says.
Students have school pages, and can see the hottest and most exciting projects and portfolio items their friends are sharing.
The company is funded with $25,000 in friends and family money and support from an accelerator, Ann Arbor’s SPARK.
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