Bay Area teens who met over social media launch 'world's first science social network'

CUPERTINO, Calif. (KGO) -- Two Bay Area teens are behind a new social media network dedicated to the STEM community. If you're unfamiliar, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

The new platform, named SciLynk, is just months away from launching and is the passion project of Arnav Chakravarthy of Sunnyvale, 15, and Arvind Kumar of Cupertino, 16.

To most, Silicon Valley is synonymous with tech, innovation and garage start-ups known for striking gold.

However, what options do you have if your age restricts access to certain networks? That was the case for the two high school students with a shared interest in science.

"The fact that we can't even access these sites and we're not allowed to create accounts on them is a big downside," Chakravarthy said. "So we created this platform for every single science lover and professional to interact, collaborate and connect with one another."

The two met through a mutual friend over social media last summer. They bonded over their interest in STEM, and both recognized the lack of online space for an all-in-one science hub.

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So they set out to create a social network to do just that.

The pandemic allowed the teens to design the platform at a distance.

Kumar shared, "After like, a solid eight months of working completely online, we met in person just a few weeks ago."

In the span of nearly one year, the two have tailored the site to feature forums, messaging, opportunity for mentorship and focus on 30 unique science groups from immunology to astrophysics.

"Whether you like music, there's acoustics. If you like, looks and how we look, there's genetics," Chakravarthy elaborated. "If you like sports and you want to see how the ball moves and stuff like that, there's physics."

Both are encouraged to create a space for others with shared interests, searching for opportunity.

"It's more than just like a side project," Kumar said. "It's something that we really, really want to see happen. It's something that we're invested in. It's something we're passionate about."

"We decided to set out and create a platform where students and professors can message each other and connect," Chakravarthy shared. "It was just a small messaging platform, which then evolved into this huge scientific social network which we would like to be accessed by every single science lover and enthusiast."

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"Our long-term goal is basically to create a site where anybody and everybody interested in science can come and create an account," Kumar added. "Or people who are already professionals in the industry, or people who already have experience, who want to share their paper and like answer questions, or host a webinar about their paper can come and just interact with the scientific community."

They're using any free time to develop SciLynk further.

"It's like, kind of a break from schoolwork," Kumar told ABC7 News. "Schoolwork is like, 'Oh, no! I have school,' but then we work on SciLynk and it's like, 'Oh, yeah! Something we really enjoy doing.'"

"Social networks nowadays, they're very restricted to only researchers and they have a very research professional approach," Chakravarthy added. "I think that's not the best approach, as we are also students, and we are also science lovers. And since we want to also start our scientific journeys, I think the best age to start is young."

Kumar credits his parents for his growing interest in STEM.

"Both my parents are engineers," he said. "I've taken that passion from my parents, and then just put in my own time, learning how to code online, and looking at business models, pitch decks, and just developing my own passion."

Chakravarthy said he gained interest through reading.

"I started picking up a lot more non-fiction books the theory of relativity, genetics explained 'For Dummies' and stuff like that," he said.

"Almost everything can be explained through science," is something he said he quickly learned from reading. "And it's just a wonderfully fascinating topic."

These Silicon Valley teens are proving there is no age limit when it comes to innovation.

The teens plan to use a Kickstarter campaign to assist with funding. However, the campaign site is not yet live.

To visit SciLynk before the official Summer 2021 launch, visit this website.

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