Aidan Denier Shain ‘26 sought connections during the COVID-19 pandemic: one of the most isolating times in history. Through the creation of Barkle, which helped connect PD students with their classmates, Aidan nurtured peer relationships to decrease isolation.
Where did this idea come from?
When the pandemic started, I felt extremely separated from the outside world. I was pent up at home, sitting in my bedroom, thinking, “there must be a way to connect with others during this pandemic.” I knew that this seclusion was for the well-being of our community, and when changing my perspective, I decided to take action. Since my generation has been surrounded by platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, I understood that there has been and always will be a need for human interaction. So, with that foundation in place, I created Barkle.
What has been the hardest thing you’ve had to handle through developing your business?
Creating Barkle from scratch was challenging within itself, but I also loved the process. So, my concern was that, like so many trends, I was concerned that Barkle would be fun and new one week and then tossed out the next. I did not want to put all this effort into this website for it to be disregarded, so I needed to ensure it would be sustainable. And, although I was creating content to post on Barkle, I needed to encourage others to do so as well: the more posts on Barkle, the more peers will engage. I will say that this is an extremely fun position that brings out my creative side, but it often is challenging to promote engagement if I am the only one that’s active on Barkle.
What is your favorite part about this effort?
Creating Barkle allowed me to embark on a new adventure during the pandemic. Although these times could be bleak, seeing peers sign up for Barkle always brightened my day. Also, it was definitely exciting to see the positive reactions from the PD Community regarding something I made!
Another aspect of Barkle I enjoy is seeing how my friends and classmates present themselves. Through profile design and utilizing certain features, I could see each user's personality emerge. Through Barkle, I found myself audibly laughing at what my friends would post or comment. I really believe that humor is one of the best things to feel better in any situation, and through Barkle, we had the opportunity to be ourselves and create content that not only showed similarities and helped users relate to each other but also showcased our feelings about the happenings in the world around us.
What has been the overall effect of your enterprise on PD and the surrounding community?
Barkle has had a positive impact on the PD community, in my opinion. Through Barkle, PD students could meet classmates they may have yet to interact with on campus. Through showcasing different interests and having a platform to assist in navigating the many aspects of our community, peers with similar interests were able to meet!
Where do you see Barkle going in the future?
I want to continue to grow Barkle. I think I can increase both users and engagement through continuous updates and adding new features. I want to continue to help my peers meet others with similar interests, so I hope to add more fan bases on Barkle as well! Who knows, you could end up meeting your best friend through Barkle!
How do you balance school, activities, and your business?
When starting your own business, knowing how to manage your time is essential. From getting your work done in an efficient manner to ensure all assignments are completed, school will always come first. While I often complete homework during breaks or study halls at school and save more significant projects for after school, I tend to utilize my time on the weekends to cater to Barkle. Weekends also allow me to focus on the big updates for the site, such as Opus Integration and V13.1, which will enhance the site’s functions and better support Barkle’s voice and video functionality.
What is one piece of advice you would give other PD students trying to start a business?
So many people have creative business ideas in their heads. Do not wait to get started. It can be scary putting yourself out there and showing your ideas to the world due to the fear of failure, but you should never wait to get started! Get started before someone else has the same business idea.