Princeton University is no stranger to witnessing their Ivy League student body excel in academics and become leaders within the community. With an acceptance rate of just 7.4%, the striking New Jersey college campus sits in a suburban setting. It is here where the next great social media app, Friendsy, was born. Catering specifically to the college audience, Friendsy is a social network app where students can anonymously connect and chat with each other, for friendly or romantic purposes. The idea for the app came as a result of how the co-founders met.
An avid New York Yankees baseball fan, Vaidhy Murti was on the hunt for other liked-minded students when he entered the Frist Campus Center a few weeks into his freshman year. “As it turns out, the entire lounge was totally empty, except for one kid sitting front and center. I went and sat down next to him, and we immediately struck up conversation,” Murti recalls how he met his would-be company co-founder, Mike Pinsky.
Murti and Pinsky became fast friends, eventually rooming together and coming up with the idea of Friendsy. While their friendship was organic, “we realized that things usually don’t turn out this way, especially on college campuses. Too often, there are many people you would like to get to know better at college, but it’s hard to branch out of your social circle and take the initiative.” Murti saw firsthand how difficult it was to make new friends after the initial excitement of freshman year has died down. Friendsy’s mission was simple, they wanted a safe, fun, risk-free way to branch out of a social circle and meet new people.
Friendsy launched their initial prototype in May 2013 for only Princeton University, quickly registering over 1,000 users in a week. Since then, they have over 85,000 users across every 4-year undergraduate university in America. The app is supported on iOS and Android devices. The app pulls inspiration from the most popular social networking sites used today. For each profile on Friendsy, the user can indicate whether they want to be friends with or go on a date with that person. The individual would then get an anonymous message saying someone is interested in them. For safety precautions, your identity would only be revealed if each indicated the same level of interest.
We dug deeper with Murti about his greatest challenges, goals, and visions for the future.
Why did you decide on the college demographic for your app?
“We’re a team of college students (and now some recent graduates) working to create an app that we ourselves want to use, so I definitely think it starts there. Besides that, there are no apps that put the college social scene online in one place. Facebook used to do that when it was first created, but it’s becoming increasingly irrelevant as parents and grandparents flood the news feed. With many different apps out there targeting college students, Friendsy is unique in that we require every one of our users to sign up with a valid .edu e-mail address. This gives us a huge competitive advantage – every single one of our users is a real-life verified college student, and that’s a powerful promise. College students have always been interested in exclusivity – and Friendsy provides them with exactly that, in a curated, safe, positive environment.”
What has been your greatest challenge with Friendsy so far?
“It has been very challenging to build production-ready apps and a website for our ever-growing user base while being enrolled as full-time students at Princeton, and it has been challenging to market our brand and build a loyal user base without any sort of serious funding.”
What is your plan for after college?
“Working on Friendsy full-time! We’re currently a team of 15 people (friendsyapp.com/team), and the five of us who just graduated have all moved into NYC to pursue our passion with 100% commitment. It’s truly a dream come true for us, and we’re super excited to spread Friendsy like wildfire this fall!”
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