When Eli Kariv drew up a website design for a non-profit last winter, he had descended a rabbit hole of unprecedented scale.
“I’m part of a group, Students Consulting for Non-Profit Organizations, and we were doing a project for the Centre County library. They had some problems they wanted to tackle with financing, and one of the things I thought I’d be good at was re-making their website,” Kariv (sophomore–marketing) said.
Kariv had stumbled upon a common problem encountered by small businesses and nonprofits, and, in doing so, became determined to find a solution.
Soon after, Kariv made a mock-up of potential website layouts, which were well-received by both the library and SCNO.
“A couple months later, I asked them if the website was up, and they said a site like that would cost them $10,000. But I knew there had to be a way to do it inexpensively,” Kariv said. “I wanted to be able to help these nonprofits and the State College community by creating affordable websites that they could actually implement.”
Thus CrossedClouds was born, a local, student-run custom website design company named for a particularly beautiful spring afternoon wherein Kariv happened to watch two clouds as they crossed.
Since its inception, CrossedClouds has worked with Duo, a restaurant and nightclub at 129 S. Pugh St., Wilson Home Farms and the University Park Undergraduate Association, as well as a number of other clients around the country.
The collaboration between CrossedClouds and UPUA is ongoing as the two parties work together to create a site that helps better serve the needs of the undergraduate student community at Penn State.
John Zang, the chief of staff for UPUA, said there was “an emphasis on the wrong things” on the old UPUA site.
“Our new site is simplified, intuitive and can be used by students who are trying to get in touch,” Zang (senior–international politics) said. “We were really happy with what CrossedClouds was doing, especially considering that they’re Penn State students.”
However, Kariv said, his company isn’t just in it for the money.
“Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to be able to empower people to get their ideas out there,” Kariv said. “When I can provide people with websites, see their ideas getting started and taking their passions to the next level, it’s really exciting. “
Another goal of CrossedClouds is enabling student entrepreneurship, a vision also shared by President Matthew Dantone.
“We see all these good ideas that students have, but there isn’t enough technical skill to actually make something and go forward with it,” Matthew Dantone (senior–kinesiology) said. “So we wanted to solve that problem. If you have an idea, we want to help you get it off the ground.”
Both Kariv and Dantone collaborate with Penn State organizations such as Innoblue, helping to promote entrepreneurs in the area. Innoblue is a local organization that consists of “artists and hackers, coders and designers, innovators and makers, who want to change the world for the better,” according to Innoblue’s official website.
“I don’t want to do anything that doesn’t actually help,” Kariv said. “I’m really serious about what improves the community.”
With an eye toward assistance to entrepreneurs just like themselves, Kariv and Dantone are optimistic about the future of CrossedClouds.
“Literally, the sky is the limit. Do we one day see it going everywhere? Of course. Isn’t that the dream of every business?” Dantone said. “For now, we just want to help Penn State students help themselves.”