Alumni create networking app geared toward USC community

Prateek Malani (left) and Michael Gurayah (right) developed the networking app Mydas to mimic the University’s Trojan network by instantly connecting students through their current social media accounts. (Vincent Leo/Daily Trojan)

A group of USC alumni and team of 31 USC student interns launched Mydas, an app similar to LinkedIn that lets users share all social media accounts, professional background and contact information in one touch, in early January.  The networking app is tailored to the USC community and capitalizes on the University’s Trojan network, according to the app’s founders.

“We’re trying to really just hone in on this market,” Mydas Chief Product Officer Prateek Malani said. “This is our market, our school … If our big goal is to really share that Trojan network, that vision, that exclusivity, that ability, that networking — it is so important to everyone else. It starts with honing in on making that Trojan network digitally stronger first.” 

Through the app, users sign up and connect their social media platforms to their profile and then select which social media platform they would like to share with other Mydas members. Under the network section, users can note any information about their connection with a person or group, such as where or when they met them. 

“What we’re trying to do is kind of become that main app, that main tool you use when you’re at a networking event,” Malani said. “When you’re at a USC social event, whether it’s football or at Greek Row, etc. Whether it’s a classroom that you can go ahead and make as much friends, make as much connections for your future as possible.” 

Diti Shivlani, a freshman majoring in business, first found out about the app from Instagram stories posted by her friends. She said the app makes her feel safer sharing her information, since she can decide after people share their information with her if she would like to share her contact. 

“The app is most convenient for me because I am really trying to make friends as a freshman,” Shivlani said. “So, I try to share most of my information. It’s been really helpful in that sense.” 

Mydas CEO Michael Gurayah, a Marshall School of Business alumnus, developed the idea for the app during the end of his junior year and pitched it in his entrepreneurship class. When he noticed that students were interested in working on it, he decided to pursue it that summer.

“We want to actually make the Trojan network have students,” Gurayah said. “Start with these connections and maintaining it past college, that’s the great part of the Trojan Family: Everyone’s staying connected from social settings and classroom settings and keeping the Trojan Family united. That’s the bigger picture.” 

Malani, who founded the app along with Gurayah and Chief Technology Officer Rob Ryan, met Gurayah at the Kappa Sigma fraternity at USC. Gurayah approached Malani about the idea for the app, and invited him to join the team in 2018, a year after Malani graduated from USC. 

Malani said Gurayah originally created the idea and centralized it. By outsourcing it to a team of developers, through fundraising money from friends and family, he was able to create the first version of the app. After that, Malani was brought on board for marketing and aesthetic appeal insights and branding product design. 

“He basically drew the designs on pieces of paper and kind of made his vision into a reality, which most entrepreneurs don’t do,” Malani said. “People don’t execute on their ideas, and I’m just really proud of him for making something like that was such a risky, scary thing to do and he actually did it. ”

The app, previously known as iMidas Touch, changed its name to Mydas to make it simpler and more appealing to the Gen Z market, according to Malani. The app underwent an update and full rebranding at the end of last year.

Caroline Bellamy, a Mydas social media intern, found out about the app at the Start-Up career fair last semester and said the convenience of Mydas appealed to her.

“I just thought that their whole idea and concept was just really important and something easy that students need,” said Bellamy, a sophomore majoring in public relations. “Like the idea of an electric business card and AirDropping just all of your info at once so you don’t [have to] type it in.”

The company routinely posts polls and questions on its Instagram page to filter feedback for the app in order to create the perfect app for USC students, Malani said. 

From Malani’s USC coursework experience on market testing, he has tested over 500 students on certain aspects of the company. The company has been able to make improvements to this feedback in quick time following the suggestions. 

“We’re here to make the Trojan network digital,” Malani said. “We’re here to make the process of exchanging multiple social media accounts faster, and we’re here to make it easier for people to join groups and circles and friendships.”

While many confuse it for a social media app, Malani said Mydas  is a tool that allows people to gain more followers, interests and relationships within a professional environment. 

“[We’re the platform] if you want to grow your base,” Malani said. “You want to share your voice, you want to build job opportunities, you want to build new friends — that will never change with us, that will always be the core principle of Mydas.”

According to Malani, future plans include making the app more centralized. 

“The bigger vision we have, especially here at USC, is people joining different communities, building actual lifelong connections with each other,” Gurayah said.