Next time you’re bored on a Friday night, don’t swipe right or left — swipe down.
Four Penn students launched an app earlier this month to mobilize plan-making. Wharton junior Michael Powell, Engineering junior Matt Wojcieszek and Engineering and Wharton juniors Adam Elkassas and Arjun Jain developed Down to Chill , a social networking app that allows users to connect with Facebook friends who are available — or “down to chill” — at a certain time.
Down to Chill launched on Sept. 10 through the Apple App Store. In less than two weeks, Powell said over 500 users had downloaded the app.
Powell said the inspiration for the project came from Tinder, an app that helps people connect with singles in their area.
“I was walking around Penn and I thought, ‘Why isn’t there an app to see when everyone is free — a Tinder for friends,’” Powell said.
The idea began to take shape in the middle of their sophomore year, aided by a grant from the Wharton Innovation Fund . Unlike other apps that cater to long-term group conversations, Powell said that they wanted their app to focus on spontaneous events, with group conversations that expire at the event’s conclusion.
“It took all four of us and all of our different skill sets to get the idea flushed out in a reasonable time frame,” Powell said. After a month and a half, they had developed the first version of Down to Chill for their phones.
The four founding members are currently taking a year off from Penn to devote more time to developing and marketing the app.
“Our major success so far has been getting the app into people’s hands,” Wojcieszek said, adding that contrary to their expectations, users have even organized study groups through Down to Chill.
“The chat interface is very convenient since I can switch between friends and see who I’m talking to right on the same screen,” College junior Alanna Cruz said. “I’ve used it a couple times to hang out with friends to grab food or even watch a movie.”
In the future, the team hopes to widen the scope of Down to Chill users by licensing the app out to music festivals. They have also brainstormed future spin-offs such as “Down for Golf” or “Down for Basketball.”
The Down to Chill team hopes to soon see their apps on phones all over campus, adding that their current priority is getting “the app into people’s hands at Penn and then into other local campuses,” Powell said.
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