For many Penn students, Hangify has become their first resource to figure out what to do on nights and weekends. Merv Arnold-Lyons, a College senior and the company’s founder and current CEO, has no plans for slowing down anytime soon.
Hangify, an app that notifies students about social events taking place in their area, is currently operating at Penn, Drexel University and Temple University. The next step for the company is preparing for growth as it moves outside of these three colleges.
“For us, it means how do we create the documentation not for the app itself, but for launching on a new campus? How can we make launching a new campus as easy as making a burger at McDonald’s?’” Arnold-Lyons said.
Since the company released the iPhone app, more than 4,600 people have downloaded it, and the app has been used over 84,000 times. Arnold-Lyons believes that students participating in Penn’s New Student Orientation had a large impact on its success.
“I think that especially for incoming students, there is this whole campus community that you are not a part of and want to be a part of, which is very compelling,” Arnold-Lyons said.
With social media platforms such as Facebook and GroupMe employing similar event-sharing strategies, the creators of Hangify have been working to differentiate their app with strategies like push notifications, which tell students when fun and cheap activities are happening nearby. Hangify also appeals in a unique way due to its ability to provide information about events specific to each campus.
“You know when you are opening Hangify that everything on there is going to be relevant. That’s not true about any other platform,” Arnold-Lyons said. “The goal is not to give people a massive list of what is happening — it is to give people a good list of what is happening.”
Arnold-Lyons started working on Hangify during the summer of his freshman year at Penn. He began to work with friends who had programming experience and even learned web development himself to help with the project. Arnold-Lyons currently operates the app with the help of Wharton senior Sierra Hirt, the chief marketing officer for the company, and he plans to run the business full-time after graduating.
Having worked on the project since its birth three years ago, Arnold-Lyons has faced many hurdles, but those have been overcome with the help of an Angel Investor to help fund the startup. 1998 Wharton graduate Scott Kosch has been funding and mentoring the team now for over two years.
Arnold-Lyons believes that his passion for entrepreneurship was a driving force in his decision to stay with the project. “The question always has to be, ‘Let it go, what can we do next?’” he said. “And the fun has to come from working on it. If I didn’t think it was fun to work on, I would have quit by now.”
Hangify is a growing startup, and its success at NSO has given the team an idea of how successful it can be. For Arnold-Lyons, the question is the same as always: What next?
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