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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Long time friends create new online platform

Comet recently released a new redesign. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

Michael Perino ’23 and his childhood friend Dan Beneventado have found a way to translate their middle school years playing Minecraft into a new social media platform they hope will change the way people interact online.

Beneventado and Perino, who grew up in Madison, New Jersey, have been friends since seventh grade, and their interest in computer technology has been a driving force in their personal and professional relationships. Their online platform, which they hope to launch in mid-May, is called Comet.

“He and I both are not people that necessarily like being told what to do, so we always had this dream that maybe we could start our own business or start something together,” Perino said. 

Their dream is Comet, an open-sourced, community-based platform for discussion and chats on any topic that users want to talk about. It takes what platforms like Reddit and Discord, other online social media platforms, do well and combines it into one fully functioning network. 

Perino said he hopes Comet will make an impact on the online community. 

“I would really like to disrupt the market in some interesting ways,” Perino said. “I’m not gonna sit here and say, ‘Oh, we want to be the next big thing’ and all this stuff. For the short term, I think it would be cool if we were a niche platform.” 

Perino and Beneventado are working virtually on their start-up, not because of COVID-19 but because they live in different states. While Perino attends St. Joe’s, Beneventado is a sophomore at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. Beneventado does the programming. Perino contributes new ideas, features and new ways to optimize efficiency, while also handling the business and financial side of the platform. 

Comet is the product of a lot of trial and error between the duo. The newest version of Comet has over 18,00 lines of code and consists of almost 500 different files. This is the pair’s sixth model of the platform, which they hope to be the last.  

“It’s been a pretty long process. It’s been in the works for almost two years now,” Beneventado said. “We’ve gone through five different versions and the idea has changed pretty drastically since it first started.” 

Jon Slominski ’23, Perino’s roommate, has witnessed firsthand the progression of the platform.

“Last year, when he first showed me the website, it was very basic, and it seemed like they were just trying to get the bones of the website down,” Slominski said. “Then as it progressed into this year, it seemed as they were trying to come up with more unique features.”

Slominski was also able to become one of the first users of Comet, testing the platform.

“I like the ideas of it because basically you can have your own kind of categories that interest you,” Slominski said. “So, if you were into,movies, per se, and you want to learn or come up with a new movie to watch that night, I’m sure there’s gonna be like a whole category for that.” 

Ultimately, according to Beneventado, Comet aims to give users of Reddit and Discord the best of both worlds while also addressing some of the problems with each.

“I think a major problem with Reddit is that most big subreddits have a Discord server,”  Beneventado said. “So, their users are kind of forced to use two different platforms in the chat system.” 

Perino and Beneventado were able to create a platform that allows users to operate on one system throughout the network, while still being able to use features from other systems.

For Comet to function and gain traction in the online platform community, it needs to gain users to not only test the back end functionality of the network but also gauge enjoyment of the system.

“In the short term, you just want to pick up a decent user base and just grow it to at least a few thousand users and hopefully be able to monetize it and possibly be able to work on it full time,” Beneventado said.

App development is a major goal for Comet, but Perino and Beneventado know that will only be possible if the platform gains user traction. 

Perino said they will be pitching Comet to on-campus clubs and organizations to entice them to start using it as their main medium of communication, instead of messaging apps like GroupMe. 

In the meantime, Perino is taking the long view about where Comet will take him. Perino said his “Plan A” is to graduate from St. Joe’s and find a job, but “Plan B” is that Comet takes off and he becomes fully self employed.

“Honestly, I’d love for Plan B to be Plan A, but in realistic terms, I just got to play the game of life,” Perino said. “Five years from now, if Comet doesn’t go up, it’s a damn good something to put on a resume. And I’ve learned a lot from working on it.”

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