Purdue graduates create social app that brings friends together

May 18, 2015  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – It's been five years and you've just returned to your hometown in hopes of seeing out-of-touch friends. How can you reach them? Well, there's an app for that.

New York City-based Purdue graduates have developed a social app to bring people together at the touch of a button.

Andrew Linfoot, a recent College of Engineering graduate, Viraj Sinha, a College of Science alumnus, and developer Mike Kolodny have created Down, a social app that makes it easier to hang out with friends you haven't seen or spoken to in quite a while.

"The idea for this app came to me at Purdue, when friends would come visit from out of town but I wouldn't know about it until late at night when I had made other plans," Linfoot said. "Another situation that inspired this app was last summer when I went on a cross-country motorcycle trip. I passed through multiple cities and would post to Facebook or text friends to see who was living in that city and if they would want to catch up. What I found was that as soon as I posted a picture to Facebook or Instagram once I had left, a bunch of people would comment saying they didn't know I was there and we should have caught up. I had missed opportunities, basically because I didn't know my friends were in the same city as me."

The Down app allows users, with one click of a button, to send out a message to all nearby friends to see who is "down" for doing something.

"Usually if you want to reach out to your friends to coordinate something you have to message everyone individually until someone replies saying they want to do something. This is slow and inefficient and limits your friend group," Linfoot said. "Down lets you import your contacts from your phone, Facebook, or by entering a user name, create an event and send an invite to all your users who are in the same area as you. Being avid travelers, we wanted to make this app such that you can walk in any city in the world and with the tap of a button reach out to any one you have ever met who is in that city at that time."

Unlike group chats that limit the scope of people you hang out with, Down expands your friend group and creates new real-life experiences.

"The biggest problem we found with group chat is that when you build them, you get this stagnation where you hang out with the same people all the time; if a friend doesn't happen to be in that group they are going to miss out on these opportunities despite the fact they are nearby, available and want to participate," Linfoot said. "Our app is designed to connect you with the people around you, whether they are old friends or new acquaintances you just met. Right now students are heading home or moving to a new city for the summer and not in their normal social situations, so this app can connect them to their old friends from high school, other interns or graduates in that city or cool people they meet from a party or work."

The app was launched on Tuesday (May 12) through Apple App Store and can be downloaded at Down.

"Through our beta-testing we got valuable feedback that enabled us to redesign the app to a point where we had continual users and unique opportunities. We'd see users going from a non-active user, to having a great experience with an event and then going on to create events and invite users on a weekly basis," Linfoot said. "Now that we've launched, we plan to track that continual user engagement and receive feedback and reiterate the product."

Linfoot accredits his time at the Anvil, a community co-working space at Purdue University that he co-founded, with helping him build his knowledge about startups and create valuable relationships.  

"As a co-founder of the Anvil surrounded by like-minded entrepreneurial people taught me a lot about business and created a lot of valuable connections for me at Purdue," Linfoot said. "The relationships I created at the very early stage of the app were a vital component of how the app came to be. I was able to meet with other members, including my now co-founder Viraj Sinha, ask them to use the app and get their feedback, which really helped me turn my vague idea into a working app."

Down is now available in the iOS app store, and the team is excited about the impact this true social app can have.

"Some of the best memories and experiences we have in life are when we put our phones away and talk to people in person. We look forward to creating those experiences for people," Linfoot said. "In the future we hope to expand the app into groups such as work, school and alumni, to expand people's social circle and the activities they normally do."

About Down

Down is a social app that makes it easier to hang out with friends. With the tap of a button users can blast out an invitation to all nearby friends and see who is "down" to do something. Down provides an alternative to reaching out to each of your friends directly, saving time. Making it easier for people to reach out to their friends, people could hang out with a more diverse friend group and choose to go out and socialize more often.

About Purdue Foundry

The Purdue Foundry is an entrepreneurship and commercialization hub in Discovery Park's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship whose professionals help Purdue innovators create startups. The Purdue Foundry is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2014 Incubator Network of the Year from the National Business Incubation Association for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org

Writer: Hillary Henry, Purdue Research Foundation 

Source: Andrew Linfoot, 925-285-2230, ajlin500@gmail.com 

Purdue Research Foundation contact: Cynthia Sequin, 765-588-3340, casequin@prf.org  

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