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Friend, hookup or date?: Q&A with the founders of Friendsy

Michael Pinsky ’15 and Vaidhy Murti ’15 are the creators of Friendsy, a mobile app that offers college students a secure network through which they can become more connected. One main feature of Friendsy is the option for users to categorize their interest in another student as friendship, hookup or date. The person gets an anonymous notification, and if both people are interested in the same way, they get a match. With the hint feature, users are allowed to tell the prospective match as much about themselves as they want. The other main function of Friendsy is the “ChitChat” tab, where users can talk anonymously to other users and eventually add each other on their friend networks if their is mutual interest.

Daily Princetonian:What was the inspiration behind the app?

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Michael Pinsky: When we were freshmen, we met by randomly sitting down at Frist to watch the Yankee game. We were the only two people there, and became very fast friends ... but it usually doesn’t work like that in college. People get sucked into their social circles, so there’s all these amazing people on campus, but it becomes difficult to branch out ... so we thought, why not create a risk-free way for students to branch out of their social circles?

DP: How did you come up with the name of the application?

Vaidh Murti: It was just one of those moments, when I was sitting with my mom and sisters, and it just happened. It sounds cool, and we wanted to create “friend-sy friends” through our app. In comparison to other social interaction applications, the name sounds much less aggressive, which I think really plays into the idea that it is a friendlier, safer site that emphasizes the happiness of users.

DP:So tell me, how is Friendsy doing in terms of numbers?

VM:[In] May 2013, when the application launched, we registered 1000 users in one week. Throughout the course of the next school year, we launched at 7 different schools, registering 10,000 users. In the past fall, we launched to an additional 30 schools, and had 20,000 users in 40 schools.

On March 1, we opened up to all four-year undergraduate colleges [in the US], and we are currently at 70,000 users. As far as numbers we really like, there have been 300,000 mutual matches ... and 460,000 chit chats.

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DP: What do you study and how do you think your major has helped you along the process of making this app?

MP: I’m in the psychology department, so it’s pretty self-explanatory. I learned about human behavior, what makes people tick, how to make sure people in a good mood. All of this went into the creation of this app.

VM: My major is computer science, which is what most people on our team are. I’ve been building apps for many years now. I really enjoy building products that people like to use, and I don’t plan on stopping.

DP: How do you plan to further expand its user base?

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MP: A lot of it, fortunately, is pretty organic. There is an option for users to anonymously request phone contacts to join Friendsy, so that’s cool. Also, it grows by word of mouth.

We are also interested in marketing techniques as well. One of the great things about Friendsy is the people are only college students. ... The application adds a level of sophistication in a previously binary arena. In a lot of dating apps, it’s just a matter of choosing “yes” or “no,” swiping “left” or “right.” By allowing you to have different types of interactions, Friendsy reflects the way people meet in real life. With the possibility of sending hints, you can be as forward as you feel comfortable being, and narrow down the pool of people who might be interested in you.

DP: How often do you use your app?

MP: Literally every day.

VM: All the time. It’s lots of fun!

DP:What are some cool conversations you’ve had on it?

VM:There’s been so many great ones, but one interesting one was with a kid who happened to be both a Giants and Knicks fan like me. He was from Fordham, and we became mutual friends. He would text me every single day. ... This guy ended up becoming mutual friends with a lot of other people on the [Friendsy] team, and when we had a March Madness Bracket, it was everybody on the team, and he joined in as well.

DP:What happens to students on the application who graduate from their colleges, since it is so much of a college-based platform?

MP:Our general plan is to grow it vertically into an alumni network. We want to still have things graduates can do — since they are newly introduced into the “real world,” where there isn’t a campus of similar-aged individuals, it is also hard to meet new people, but a lot of them are still looking to make new connections. There are a lot of interesting ideas about the best ways for keeping users of 2015 on board.For example, we could do reunion-styled meetups, where everyone flocks to New York City.

The fact that the school emails will expire for graduates gives us a short window to get some other form of verified identity. Although the app doesn’t rely on colleges keeping user email addresses active to function, it does rely on those emails for communications between Friendsy and you ... It’s a tricky challenge we’ll dealing with in the next few months.

DP:As you're both seniors, where do you plan to take Friendsy after graduation?

MP: We are going to be managing the application full time next year. It will be nice not having to try and manage Friendsy while dealing with schoolwork at the same time. Our next big step is to really dominate the college scene. We want to get every college student on Friendsy.

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