2015 Wharton graduate Blake Engelhard aims to use “swipe culture” to create valuable connections and friendships through , a new social networking app.
“The app is a connection/introduction app,” College senior Olga Belyanina said, who is in charge of business development, “so connections are made through mutual friends.”
These mutual friends are the key to how the app works. The app gives users three categories to choose from: work, dating and friendship. Friends can introduce mutual friends looking for the same thing, whether that be someone to go to the gym with, a formal date or just a study buddy.
“Really what we see is creating a movement around being open about what you’re looking for and helping others find the things that they need,” Engelhard said.
Engelhard first got the idea for the app in January 2016 when he was traveling for a consulting job.
“Moving from city to city it’s really hard to meet new people,” Belyanina said. “[This is] a platform where you could meet people with a purpose.”
The company is building off the recent success of companionship apps, which have tripled in the last two years, according to research from the .
“The swipe culture and the swipe way of life is a way of connecting,” Peter Groverman, an advisor to the company said. “People are getting more and more connected every day that passes.”
Groverman has been a part of focus groups that have helped develop different components of the app.
“It’s really easy to use, it’s very intuitive,” Groverman said. “You can navigate it with complete ease.”
This ease of use didn’t happen overnight. For the past year, Engelhard has worked to assemble a team to make his idea a reality.
“Penn has been an unbelievable resource in terms of having students come into the office and do focus groups and test the prototypes and things like that,” Engelhard said.
The result is an app based on connections made by mutual friends, which Engelhard described as “like Tinder, but less creepy, a little less weird.”
Belyaninasaid something similar: “In Penn’s environment we kind of find our little niches, we have our little bubble,” she said. “This will make it possible to build a community and raise awareness about what’s going on in other areas.”
Penn is the first campus the app is launching with , and it was officially released on the on Monday.
Necter is hosting a launch event at Allegro Pizza on Thursday from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. and plans to turn Penn’s late night pizza place into a club, complete with a band, a DJ and free beer and pizza.
Groverman feels optimistic about the app’s potential.
“[Venmo] started in a dorm room and then boom it exploded and became such a phenom,” Groverman said. “This has all the hallmarks of that.”
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