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Two ECs Launch First Online Service to Send Karma

Looking for a way to thank your classmate for buying you that morning coffee? Did your neighbor make the perfect comment in class? Now, two ECs have built a social networking service to track those good deeds!

Jon Pastor (OH) and Michael Mettler (OH) recently launched Karmadu (//karmadu.com), a totally free social currency that lets people record and rank everyday actions in their daily lives.
Karmadu members can send ‘karma points’ to friends along with a message to recognize a good deed, as thanks for helping with homework or a job, or just to recognize a particularly cool friend. Members can compare these karma point totals to other friends or groups. Additionally, members can rank other people’s actions. Karma is public, so members can agree that a karma point is karma-worthy by ‘jumping on’ to give the recipient bonus karma points.

Mike and Jon came up with the idea during a field study earlier this term. While working with Tom Eisenmann, an Associate Professor in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit, the two cofounders began studying network effects and social interaction on the web. The two made a list of various ideas before choosing to build and launch Karmadu, which took about a month to develop.

The ‘Karmadudes’ are hoping that the HBS community will share Karmadu with their friends. “Karma is an intuitive way to describe interactions between people” said Jon. “We felt these interactions occur all the time at Harvard.

armadu has built a community that matches how people live their lives in the real world. It is a natural way for users to reward friends for good deeds, or just for being an awesome person. Members get karma points from friends, and anyone can compete and try to accumulate the most karma”.

The inherently social nature of a university setting led Mike and Jon to conclude that Harvard was a perfect place to launch the service. “Unlike other social networking sites that are static and profile-based, Karmadu is transaction-oriented and highly interactive” said Mike.

“Karma points are a social currency, and everyone can get involved. The ‘Jump On!’ feature lets the community vote for the most ‘karmic’ actions, and gives bonus karma to the person responsible. The best karma bubbles to the top for everyone to see.” Karmadu could also be a great way for ECs and RCs to stay in touch over the summer – the site includes a Google Map of all the Karmadu users, so members can see where all their friends are located!

Karmadu is easy to use. Once a user joins (either online at karmadu.com or via their mobile device by sending a text to “join” to k@karmadu.com), he or she can immediately begin to send karma. Each time a user sends karma, the recipient gets one karma point. Each member may send one karma point per day to each friend.

Additionally, members can invite non-members to sign up, customize their profile, view their total karma point balance, join groups (and check out the karma of other people in a group), browse the site, promote Karmadu by placing a code snippet for a button on a website, blog, or MySpace profile, jump on an existing karma point, leave a message for the recipient, or send karma from anywhere using a mobile phone.

More information can be found at: //karmadu.com/faq.php. Mike and Jon welcome your suggestions. Watch out, MySpace!

May 1, 2006
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