Feature Story

UPDATE: Networking Comes Full ‘Circle’

February 6, 2014 – by Cole Hatcher

Updated: February 6, 2014

Editor’s Note: Forbes interviews OWU alumnus Evan Reas '07 in its Feb. 5 edition as a "Thought Leader Changing the Business Landscape." Reas discusses “Circle,” a social media platform that he helped to develop. Reas tells Forbes: “I think connecting people that are just near each other is going to also change how humans behave in a really, really powerful, positive way. The only thing that I know is that when you can connect people, amazing things result from that.” Read the full Forbes article, “Is Evan Reas' Circle The Next Big Social Media Platform?”

Circle app with Evan Reas ’07

Ohio Wesleyan University graduates Evan Reas ’07 and Pratyush Agarwal ’11 are seeking to change the shape of alumni networking with “Circle,” a free smartphone app created by California-based Hawthorne Labs.

“Circle is allowing Bishops to find each other every day,” said Reas, an OWU economics management major and one of the founders of Hawthorne Labs. “We already have OWU alumni using Circle in New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and Columbus among other places. It’s amazing and very fulfilling to see OWU alumni finding each other all over the U.S.!”

The app works by detecting and notifying users when friends and acquaintances from desired networks are nearby, anywhere in the world. To make connections, the app uses information imported from Facebook, such as the user’s hometown, employment history, school affiliations, and special interests.

Circle is the future of alumni networking, said Agarwal, an economics management major and psychology minor at Ohio Wesleyan. He recently was hired by Hawthorne Labs to help create and promote the app, which is available in iPhone and Android versions.

“Think of it as wearing an OWU sweatshirt in your town, and imagine an alumnus spots you,” Agarwal said. “There’s a good chance a conversation will ensue, and new connections will be made. This helps create a more active alumni portal than LinkedIn or Facebook groups. In contrast, Circle gives you a chance to actually meet and network with people from your university. People love to bond over their alma mater, and this makes it happen in the real world consistently. This will be the new medium of alumni networking for savvy smartphone users.”

Since his graduation, Agarwal has found networking with OWU alumni to be life-changing. After moving to California, he met Reas, who co-founded Hawthorne Labs in 2010 after earning his M.B.A. from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. Reas currently serves as chief executive officer of the Silicon Valley startup company.

“Meeting alumni in [California] has personally helped me a lot, and the impact of it has been profound, even in terms of my giving back to the University,” said Agarwal, who is working to organize an alumni meeting in the golden state. “I have gotten a lot of enthusiastic response about people wanting to meet up as well. All this just goes to show how much Circle could help in reconnecting alumni and strengthening connections.”

The OWU Alumni Circle network is one of the first 100 networks created on the platform. Any OWU student or alumni is invited to join the network by clicking here.

Congratulations, Evan and Prat, on changing the shape of networking!