Friendsy launched nationally on Monday, allowing users from any college in the United States to sign up for the service.
The site, which was created by students and allows students to indicate their interest in becoming friends with, hooking up with or dating other students,started at the University in 2013and gradually expanded to more colleges.
Within 24 hours, the service attracted around 4,500 new users, on top of itspreexisting database of around 25,000 users, said Michael Pinsky ’15, one of the site's founders.
Since Friendsy's initial launch to University students in May 2013, the core team has been working to add new features and components to the site, including applications for both the iOS and Android operating systems, Pinsky said. He added that the team spent the summer in the eLab program of the Keller Center, working with mentors and advisors to further improve Friendsy's user experience.
Friendsy's original setup prevented users at two closely located universities from connecting through the website, explained Vaidhy Murti ’15, Friendsy's other founder.One of the main changes since the site was originally launched is that itnow allows users to establish connections with other college students, rather than only at the user's university.
“Throughout the time we’ve been working on Friendsy, we’ve heard from users that they were interested in branching out and meeting more people,” Murti said. “Naturally, when it’s only people within your school, you reach a carrying capacity of students at that school.”
This new feature has brought both challenges and new possibilities to the website, Pinsky said.
“The biggest challenge will really be seeing how people take to the idea of cross-school communication. Thus far, we’ve kind of identified ourselves as a network for just your college, and now it’s going to be a college network for college students,” he explained. “People can really share themselves with the rest of the college world without worrying about your parents or your coworkers or anything like that on the same network.”
Through the eLab program, the Friendsy founders received seed funding and campus housing from the Keller Center without any equity, and the founders matched up with mentors, explained Cornelia Huellstrunk, Associate Director of the Keller Center.In addition, the team presented their product for two “demo days” at the end of the summer, one at the University and one in New York City.
“One of their main goals is to spread happiness over their network, and that definitely sets them apart from their competitors,” Huellstrunk explained. “That is true about the founders as well — they're extremely positive individuals, which is really important for aspiring entrepreneurs.”
Leah Worthington ’15, a Friendsy user, explained that she had originally signed up for it because all of her friends were on the site. She added that she liked the idea of being able to connect with people from other schools.
“I think people enjoy using it,” she said. “I'm not really sure whether the connections made will really be very meaningful, but I definitely think it’s a fun way to connect with people in your community.”
Evan Kappatos ’16, however, said he wasn’t on Friendsy because he has never heard of it.
In order for a student to be able to use the service, he or she would have to register with a specific university email address, Murti explained. He noted that at schools where students and faculty have similar email addresses, it would be possible for non-students to sign up
“At schools like Princeton, where professors do have the same 8-character @princeton.edu email address, they can theoretically sign up for the service, but the moment anyone sees them, or the moment we see them, we take them down immediately,” he said.
Since the service’s initial launch in 2013, several new features have been added, such as Murmurs, which allow users to anonymously compliment other users, and Hints, which allow users to opt to reveal some information about themselves to people they request connections with.
“The idea of Hints is that you can choose to reveal particular aspects of your profile to a person you request a connection with,” Murti explained. ”As I choose each particular bit of information, the servers will dynamically tell me how many other people match my profile, so I can tell exactly how forward I’m being."
The service also added a private messenger, with conversations between mutually connected users.
“Once you have a match, you don’t want people going away to Facebook to talk; you want to keep them on your app,” Murti said.
While Murti and Pinsky noted that the service had the most success at schools like Dartmouth, Bucknell and Duke, they added that the University community helped them shape the service into what it is today.
“Princeton was our guinea pig — we tested everything out at Princeton, we made all our mistakes at Princeton,” Pinsky said. “Princeton really helped us refine things as well — they saw the very original version of Friendsy and they’ve seen every version since ...Hopefully, when we launch across the country, everyone will appreciate the help that the Princeton student body has given us so far.”
Correction: Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this article incorrectly transcribed a quote said by Friendsy co-founder Vaidhy Murti ’15. The ‘Prince’ regrets the error.