Three Oak Park and River Forest High School graduates, all of them longtime best friends, are trying to create a space for themselves in the world of social media with a website called Binapro.
The platform is a “social network that connects innovators for the purpose of bringing disruptive ideas to life,” the website states.
Binapro’s co-founders — Daniel Bevan, Derrick Griffin and Kelvin Evans — said the site features an Online Project Workplace, which offers users a “virtual workspace” that integrates business apps like Google Drive, WordPress, Skype and Evernote on a centralized location so they can get more work done. A feature called Binapro Crowd, Bevan said, would allow entrepreneurs a tool to grow an online following, sell their products and/or find potential investors.
But one feature in particular, called Next Generation Innovation, resonates the most with the three friends. The NGI, they said, would allow high school and college students the opportunity to get actual work experience with real businesses.
The feature is an echo of their own experiences at OPRF, where the three young men helped create the high school’s business club before graduating in 2015.
“Prior to the club, we felt there wasn’t really anything at the school that provided students the opportunity to really voice their opinions on certain business ideas they wanted to bring to life,” said Griffin, Binapro’s COO and a former business club president who is studying business administration at Robert Morris University in Chicago.
Binapro CMO Kelvin Evans said the club, which is overseen by OPRF faculty members Derrick Purvis and Peter Hostrawser, allowed the three friends to create a marketing plan for the CMO of Hyatt. They’ve also worked on projects with corporate heavyweights like Coca Cola and Potbelly’s.
“College students don’t even get to do things like that,” said Evans, who is currently majoring in entrepreneurship at Illinois State University. “That really changed my life and I don’t think I’d be where I’m at without it.”
The club, however, was just a reinforcement of a bond that started at Holmes Elementary, where Griffin and Bevan met in first grade before bonding with Evans in third grade. They’ve been inseparable ever since.
By the time they graduated from OPRF last year, the notion that they would work on some kind of project together had pretty much solidified. What though? They dabbled in network marketing and even catering before nailing down the concept of Binapro.
“The name is a play on words,” said Evans. “It stands for business, innovation and professional. We thought merging those ideas sounded good.”
After he pitched the idea for a “social network designed for people to start business projects” to his two friends last year, Bevan said, they started slowly building the concept.
They sought out at least two web developers, one of whom lives in Egypt, to build the network before settling on a platform called bubble.is, which allowed them to create a site on their own, without knowing how to code.
“I just worked on this thing 30-35 days straight,” said Bevan, who is currently focusing on Binapro full-time.
The site, binapro.co, is live, but it’s still in beta mode, he said. Still, users can sign-up and test the network’s usefulness. So far around 20 people have signed up, Bevan said, with another 50 people who have shown interest in doing so. At this stage, however, the focus is on building and improving the test version before attracting more users.
In three months, they expect Binapro to start generating revenue before growing its user base. In the meantime, they’re keeping each other honest.
“We’re focused on this 100 percent,” said Bevan. “It’s a great experience. We love what we do, but we’re also going to hold each other accountable.”