Melanie Salisbury figured there had to be another way for families and friends to stay in touch.
She realized e-mail, letters and telephone calls work just fine as forms of interpersonal communication, but each has its drawbacks: e-mail and letters take time to compose, particularly if you're corresponding regularly with more than one person, and phone calls can get expensive, especially if you're calling at international rates.
What she wanted, recognized a need for, Salisbury said, was something that combined the ease of e-mailing with the facility of such popular websites as MySpace.com.
"I looked on the Internet to see what's available as far as sites that are safe for families," Salisbury noted, "but I wasn't happy with what was out there, so I decided I would make one that incorporates all the functions that I wanted."
To that end, the 1999 Columbia High School graduate created a family-oriented networking website of her own called World Wide Nest (www.worldwidenest.com).
According to Salisbury, World Wide Nest "is a clean, safe, online environment that fulfills a need for families to stay connected on a regular basis."
The site went "live" on Friday, Nov. 3. The same day, Salisbury and her friend, Jill Bennett, embarked from Portland, Ore., on a 22-city, cross-country tour (in a 2006 Toyota Tundra pickup wrapped with the site's logo) to promote the launch of World Wide Nest. The entrepreneur, who's taking a break from her fashion design studies, said she and Bennett expect to be on the road for about a month and a half.
"We're targeting college campuses primarily because I'm 25 and I can relate to that age group," Salisbury noted. "Plus, college students tend to be tech savvy; they all have computers and are always looking for easy ways to communicate with their families and friends."
Several features make the World Wide Nest an attractive alternative for families looking to get connected online--regardless of geography or time zone.
For starters, worldwidenest.com is family-focused, free to use and user-friendly.
After building a "nest" through the site's account administrator, users can create individual and family web pages; upload and share photos; swap stories and news through e-mail and blogs; and post important dates on customizable family and personal calendars.
"All the content is safe and can only be viewed by members of your virtual nest," Salisbury said, adding, "It's great for families with kids in college or studying abroad, or those with members serving in the military."
The name for the website, she explained, aptly fits because of what she expects to accomplish with it: "Nest because it's a family networking site that aims to keep people close to home, and World Wide in hopes that the site will be translated into other languages."
Salisbury views her latest business venture as an extension of her education.
"I'm very entrepreneurial. I like to do things that are creative. With this, I'm just exploring another aspect of that interest," she said.