Jon M. Huntsman School of Business

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Promising Company, Launched By Huntsman Students, Will Make Social Media More Effective

Aaron Light, (left), John Johnson, II, Lauren Johnson and Shai McDonald
By Steve Eaton

Those who know they must compete in the social media game, but have limited time and resources to invest in such critical marketing, may take an interest in a solution that will soon be offered by a start-up company founded by Huntsman students.

The company is called RedbirdMetrics and the social media tool it offers, RedbirdQ, impressed a panel of outside judges so much that they gave it first place in a Partners In Business Student Showcase competition recently.

Branson Matheson, a systems architect for NASA, was a keynote speaker and a judge for the contest. He said he was impressed with the student projects that were featured at the event, and believes RedbirdQ could prove very valuable to politicians, celebrities and others needing to promote a cause or a brand.

“Their project was the most polished and it looked like it was almost ready for implementation,” he said. “They didn’t have just a model or even a demo. They had a fully-working version of their solution to show. They have enough developed that if they can’t get venture capital for it, I would be really surprised. I can see a lot of ways it could be applied immediately.”

The RedbirdQ software, still in alpha testing, analyzes the online activity of followers and fans so businesses know when a post will reach the most people, according to Lauren Johnson, a cofounder of the company. The post can be sent out immediately or queued onto a calendar to go out at a specific time in the future.

Normally, sharing a picture or news story is a multi-step process. RedbirdQ allows users to easily grab photos and quotes with integration, said Shai McDonald, a cofounder of the company. The software will be offered as a free browser plug in. The company will make money by charging people to analyze the impact of their efforts with the firm’s online software, he said.

Lauren and Shai, who are married, are both juniors majoring in management information systems. John Johnson, II, a sophomore majoring in management information systems, and Aaron Light, a junior majoring in computer science, are also USU students who are cofounders of the company.

The contest, which was part of the Partners In Business Information Technology Conference, is in its third year and allowed students to showcase any IT project they are working on, according to Brandon Layne, the student coordinator for the conference.

Brandon said Partners In Business participants fill out evaluation forms to give feedback on what they liked best about the conference and the student showcase event is always one of the highest-rated parts of the event.

“I would compare it to a higher-caliber IT science fair,” he said. “Students who enter can show any type of project, whether it is something that they have put together on their own, or something that they have done for school. The idea of the showcase is to get real-time exposure and more importantly, one-on one-time with professionals already working in the IT field.”

Vishal Patel and Divya Reddy took second place in the competition and Chad Williams took third.

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