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New Slice Technology Comes Only to Kenyon

Published: Thursday, September 1, 2011

Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 01:11

Gambier, Ohio is rarely at the forefront of technology, but this fall, a new social networking tool called Slice will debut exclusively at Kenyon.

Slice is powered by Campfire Labs, Inc., a technology development company based in San Francisco. Zack Goldman '12 worked with the company this past summer and played a role in its choice to use Kenyon's campus as a testing ground for its new product.

Slice is a web application that focuses on users' high-value relationship groups or "slices," according to Shruti Challa, head of business development and marketing at Campfire Labs. Examples of these high-value relationship groups include roommates, family members and student activity groups.

"You can choose to slice up your life in the way that is most convenient for you," Goldman said. "[Slice is] not necessarily a brand new tool, but more of a helpful adjunct to approach social networking."

Slice works with existing social media, like Facebook and email, so that users can organize all of their connections on these tools in one place. Users can communicate with their families and friends on the site, even if these family members and friends are not using Slice themselves.

Features of Slice include real-time chatting, media sharing, event planning tools and a way to share music that would allow users to control the music their friends listen to, like a virtual DJ, according to Challa. "They've got a lot of fun offerings that can really benefit my own life," Goldman said.

Goldman is the current Kenyon Lead for Slice and is one of five Kenyon students to work on the project. "They were just as responsible for the direction of the product as we were," Challa said.

While developing Slice, Campfire Labs looked at schools across the country to find students that could act as advisors, according to Challa. "We fell in love with the Kenyon team," she said. "We're not doing a service to Kenyon, but Kenyon's doing a service to us, because they're providing a sense of insight that's not jaded."

"Kenyon's open culture is what attracted us to the university," Naveen Koorakula, Campfire Labs chief executive officer and founder, said. "It is why we made the decision to release the first version of Slice exclusively to Kenyon. We are excited to get the students' honest reaction on some of the innovation that is taking place in the Valley."

Goldman said he is excited to see Slice's impact on Kenyon's campus. "It's a really great opportunity for Kenyon because we love getting on the map," he said. "Think if we had been the Facebook school, like Harvard. Students at Kenyon have a huge hand in creating this incredible revolutionizing thing that absolutely changes our world."

Kenyon students can now begin signing up for the waitlist to use Slice at slicekenyon.com. By Sept. 30, Slice will be open to any students who receive direct invites from the Kenyon Slice team, according to Challa. Then, on Oct. 1, Slice will be open to all Kenyon students.

"Our goal is to have everyone at Kenyon have Slice," Goldman said. Kenyon students can then provide feedback to further develop the product, he added.

"We hope to show the Valley that innovation occurs everywhere," Koorakula said. "In fact, after our Kenyon release we will be launching this product at 30 universities, including Harvard and Stanford."

According to Challa, Campfire Labs is also working with a "set of A-list investors" that includes YouTube Co-Founder Steve Chen; Ron Conway, an early investor in Twitter; Rajeev Motwani, the late Stanford University professor whose work helped inspire Google; Keith Belling, the founder and chief executive officer of Popchips; and Gideon Yu, the former chief financial officer of both Facebook and YouTube.

"Slice is something that could eventually have a huge global impact," Goldman said.

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