College and Wharton sophomore Daniel White wants Penn students to make new friends by getting hi!.
Next March, White will launch hi!, a downloadable mobile application designed to allow Penn students with similar interests to connect with each other.
White envisions hi! being used at events like New Student Orientation events and football games where students could meet new people. hi! generates a list of everyone in one location and based on users’ Facebook profiles, “autopopulates a list with the people that you have the most in common with or that it thinks you would get along the best with,” White said. “It’s kind of like an eHarmony match-up but for making friends instead of dating.”
If a student is then interested in meeting someone on the list, they can use the application to say, “hi!” to the other person and “that mutual exchange of coolness gives you the ability to then text, chat or phone call each other without sharing phone numbers,” White said.
“If you’re a shy person but want to meet new people, this is going to be a new way to find people without having to go through that initial awkward encounter,” Engineering sophomore Tanvir Ahmed, one of the co-founders of hi!, wrote in an email. “We hope that hi! will be the app that’s ideal for pretty much everyone in many different situations.”
White and Ahmed are joined in launching the project by 2010 College graduate Lukasz Dziurzynski.
Wharton junior and 2013 Class Board member Laura Bilder believes that hi! would be “a great tool for organizations to promote events in order to make them more dynamic.”
Other features of hi! include promotions offered by local restaurants and bars when students check-in to the location using the application and a map that allows users to see where their friends are. A person who is added as a friend — the next step after saying hi! — will show up “when you are in a football field’s distance from each other,” White said.
He believes this function would be useful in finding a gym buddy or fellow classmates in the library who are working on the same assignment late at night.
“This app will help create an ice breaker wherever you are,” Ahmed wrote. “In essence, hi! will be able to create virtual private networks for any type of gathering and will give everyone the opportunity to get in touch with those we determine will be most compatible with each other.”
Despite the social opportunities hi! has to offer, the application has several measures in place to protect user privacy. For example, profiles can be made accessible only to Penn students or only visible after saying hi! to somebody first. Additionally, although users can text or call people through the application, they are not able to view the phone number.
“My favorite part of the entire app is the fact that the person can contact you via call or text, but only after you’ve added them to your contacts,” Bilder wrote in an email. “The best part of that is that you can then delete them from your contacts if you don’t want them to contact you again, and they won’t have access to your actual phone number.”
“In a sense, it removes the risk of giving out your phone number to some crazy person, not that anyone at Penn is like that, of course. It just alleviates some of that concern,” she added.
Although it’s not launching until March, hi! is already generating buzz at Penn, as White is distributing hi! stickers all over campus.
“The reason why I was originally trying to build a buzz was just to get people’s feedback,” White said. “And I also thought it would be cool to get some ‘likes’ on the Facebook page, in order to show the angel investors and venture capitalists that there already is some interest in the app,” he said. “This is something that people actually want to happen.”
The hi! Facebook page currently has close to 1,000 likes. In addition, White has about 20 potentially interested investors.
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