New app seeks to connect VC students, foster friendships

The new Friendsy mobile app, launched this past weekend, allows students to view the profiles of other Vassar students, send them anonymous compliments and indicate interest in them. Photo: Friendsy
The new Friendsy mobile app, launched this past weekend, allows students to view the profiles of other Vassar students, send them anonymous compliments and indicate interest in them. Photo: Friendsy
The new Friendsy mobile app, launched this past weekend, allows students to view the profiles of other Vassar students, send them anonymous compliments and indicate interest in them. Photo: Friendsy

At some point or another, you’ve probably overheard someone on campus complaining about how all their Tinder matches are miles away from campus.  A new app called Friendsy launched on campus this past weekend that purports to solve this problem by matching you only with people at your school.

While most dating and hookup apps, like Tinder, match you with people based on your geographical location, Friendsy requires a .edu email address to register. When a Vassar student signs up, they will only be able to see and be matched with other people with a email address.

According to the creator of Friendsy, Michael Pinksy, Friendsy was designed to help its users meet other people attending their school.

“We’re a closed network by email and college,” said Pinksy. “It’s a very powerful thing, since only other students can be matched with you and see your profile.”

Pinksy is a senior at Princeton University where he and a team of students have been steadily developing Friendsy since they launched the app in May 2013. Friendsy was conceived when Pinksy and Vaidhy Murti, Friendsy’s cofounder and fellow Princeton senior, happened to meet while they were both watching a Yankees game in Princeton’s student center during their freshman year.

“If we hadn’t both been watching that game, we probably wouldn’t have met,” said Pinksy, who is now good friends with Murti. “That led us to build an app that would help people meet who normally wouldn’t.”

Since its launch last May, Pinksy and his team have expanded Friendsy to almost 50 campuses across the nation by reaching out to students at the schools. Friendsy currently has over 10,000 unique users at these schools, and it has resulted in over 150,000 mutual connections between its users. Vassar was part of a group of 16 schools, picked because of their similarity to other schools where Friendsy has been successful, whose Friendsy networks went online on September 7. The massive influx of traffic of new users caused Friendsy’s servers to crash. The servers have been upgraded and are now stable and ready for new users.

After signing up with a email, Friendsy users are encouraged to flesh out their profile and then interact with other users.

Unlike Tinder, Friendsy presents users with three options: “Friends,” “Hookup” and “Date.” When a user clicks one of the options, the object of their interest will receive a notification that a user is interested in them, but has to click the same option back to be matched with them.

Friendsy also sports a feature known as Murmur. Murmur is a wall of short text posts by Friendsy users at Vassar—those very few people with Twitters will feel right at home. Murmurs are only visible to other Vassar students, and can be posted either as yourself or anonymously (upperclassmen, if you miss LikeMeMaybe, you’ll love Friendsy).

Murmurs can be used to either compliment another student, post a photo or quote something you overheard somewhere on campus. Even though it’s only been online for a few days, the Vassar Friendsy Murmur is already seeing use as a way to compliment students both by friends and by secret admirers.

Murmur is one of Pinksy’s favorite features, and he and his team make sure that all Murmurs are monitored for bullying or other negative comments before they are posted. Positivity is one of Friendsy’s biggest focuses.

“You can’t have a very negative experience through Friendsy,” said Pinksy. “There’s no downside to downloading it. The best-case scenario is as high as the sky, and the worst case scenario is totally neutral.”

Though Pinksy is optimistic about his project, some students aren’t overly excited.

“It’s probably not going to get anywhere because no one wants to give more than a certain number of hints,” said a student, who preferred not to be named, who has been using Vassar’s Friendsy since it went online.

Signing up and downloading Friendsy is totally free, and Pinksy plans to keep it that way. Currently, the app is supported due to an accelerator grant from Princeton’s E-lab as well as a crowd-funding campaign Pinksy ran.

After Friendsy’s launch last year, the team devoted a significant block of their time to testing and troubleshooting the incarnation of Friendsy that was just launched at Vassar. Though there are some features in the works that Pinksy wasn’t ready to discuss, the team is very open to new ideas for the app.

“We’re definitely willing to add whatever there is a demand and a want for,” Pinksy said.

The Friendsy team hopes that, as users graduate and become alumnae/i, Friendsy will become a way of keeping in touch with former classmates. The team plans to add features that will support the needs of young professionals.

“Our goal is to grow into an alumni network as well,” Pinksy explained.

Though Friendsy may sound very similar to other dating apps, Pinksy is sure that Friendsy fills a niche that the other apps don’t. In his eyes, the focus on positivity and confinement of the userbase to particular schools all set it apart from the competition, but Friendsy is also totally driven by the community that uses it.

“The thing I really love,” Pinksy concluded. “Is how each school makes Friendsy its own thing. And that’s something you don’t see elsewhere with things like, for example, Facebook.”

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