Former soldier creates social network after seeing power of community in Iraq
By WAYNE HEILMAN | The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) (Tribune News Service) | Published: January 11, 2016
Steven Vulich wants to bring back the social part of social network with his InfinitySN, a 2-month-old network designed to bring members together based on common interests in a specific location.
The 38-year-old fleet manager for the Fort Carson Police hopes to eventually devote full time to InfinitySN and grow the advertiser- supported social networking site from 6,000 members to millions worldwide who develop friendships based on hobbies and other common interests. He is seeking funding from angel investors to help complete development of a mobile application for InfinitySN, add features to the network and fund operations.
"We pride ourselves in being a meaningful social network. I want this network to be more social and become an active part of the community," Vulich said. "You pass by so many people every day that could become your best friend if only you knew that you shared common interests with them, such as hiking, horseback riding or any other interest you might share."
Although he started building InfinitySN in 2011 after raising $750,000 from family members, Vulich first came up with the concept of a social network based on common interest while deployed to Iraq with the Army in 2003 shortly after the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. In the months after the invasion, Vulich found that Iraqis who didn't know each other would band together to rebuild their neighborhoods, showing the power of building a community based on common interests.
"The most difficult thing for Iraqi citizens was communicating with family and friends because there wasn't a platform for them to do that," Vulich said. "They needed a way to connect on a network that allows you to get to know people in the same location better. That process breaks down barriers and builds trust."
Although Vulich started developing InfinitySN in 2011, he ended up starting over after he and a software developer he hired disagreed on the network's design. After a seven-month break, Vulich hired New Hampshire-based website design and development agency SMILE media LLC to redesign and complete the entire network. Developers at SMILE came up with algorithms that suggest friends based on common interest in the same or nearby location and are developing a mobile application that will help those with common interests meet, based on where they log in to the network.
"You can use our network to learn more about people you know on other networks that don't make it easy to identify common interests," Vulich said. Once InfinitySN has identified those nearby with common interests, members will be able to do audio or video chats with each other and eventually chats involving groups of up to 25, he said.
InfinitySN includes Vulich as CEO, his wife, Calley, as vice president and former coworkers Brad Tucker as chief operating officer and Adam Selfridge as executive vice president. He hopes to build awareness of the company and its network by hosting concerts and other events that will raise money for local causes, including a Special Olympics competition it recently sponsored in Oklahoma.
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