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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, April 14, 2024

New apps on campus aim to change social interaction

2014-09-14-Wigo-2
The Wigo app shows where your friends are going out, helping you find parties that your friends are attending.

For Tufts sophomores Kofi Asante, Denis Bravenec, Richard Kim and Jared Moskowitz, social life at Tufts was lacking one crucial element -- communication. Though other students were going out to parties, the four were witnessing firsthand a need to improve the quality and quantity of social information to which students had access.

“We were freshmen walking around, trying to find events, parties at night,” Bravenec said. “It’s really about what’s happening tonight, [and] we saw that being an issue.”

Taking matters into their own hands, Asante, Bravenec, Kim and Moskowitz created the social app WeParty (now named evoqe) last fall. They officially launched the full version March 27, following the January release of a beta version of the app that tested its reception during fraternities’ Rush Week. Within a month of its official release, the creators said they had 900 Tufts students signed up.

Now, with the recent introduction of another new social app, it's easier than ever to find out what's happening on any given weeknight, and who's going to be there. WiGo, another app created by a college undergraduate, has joined evoqe on smartphones across campus, and their creators hope that they'll change the way that students socialize.

Evoqe was released on Sept. 10, 2014 and provides users with a list of all public events, both on and off campus, that have been posted on the app. Users can also post their own events and share them publicly with the Tufts community, or privately with a select list of invitees. Evoqe also includes features that allow users to subscribe to certain clubs or groups on campus, save events in the MyEvents tab, text event information to friends, and sync existing Facebook events with the app.

The name change from WeParty to evoqe reflects changes in the app itself that the creators hope will increase its user base.

“We started as more of a late night thing because that was more relevant to us ... but then we realized that people were asking for way more -- they wanted concerts, they wanted shows … all these other things that we didn’t encapsulate into our original idea which was supposed to be frat parties, house parties, going out,” Kim said. “So we broadened the scope a little bit, but we realized the name was still holding us back.”

Asante agreed that the new name is more appropriate for the app’s expanded audience.

“This community is so diverse and there are so many diverse interests and that’s what makes this place beautiful,” he said. “We don’t want to exclude any of those people and put ourselves in one label, and that’s why we’ve opened it up and made it more of a community thing with ‘evoqe.’”

 

 

2014-09-12/13- Tufts University- Many students roam around the campus on friday and saturday nights in search of hangouts and parties at houses and Fraternities. (Ethan Chan / The Tufts Daily) (Ethan Chan) (Ethan Chan / The Tufts Daily)


 

Students looking for late-night specific information, however, will still be able to find it on WiGo, an app that stands for “who is going out.” Though it was initially released elsewhere, Tufts senior Alexander Zorniger is Tufts' campus ambassador for WiGo and is hoping to spread the word about its virtues.

According to Zorniger, Ben Kaplan, a junior at the College of the Holy Cross, came up with the idea for WiGo in the fall of 2012 and proceeded to win $100 in a Holy Cross entrepreneurial competition for the idea. From there, he began to seek additional investment and found financial support from travel search engine Kayak.com cofounder Paul English, New England Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and others.

“[Kaplan] had the same problem that so many college kids have: The process of figuring out what’s going on is texting seven or eight people because you never have any idea,” Zorniger said.

WiGo allows students to post where they’re going that night and to see their friends’ plans.

“WiGo wants to be the app for nightlife," Zorniger said. "Parties, not necessarily. Just people meeting up, what are you doing tonight, let’s socialize. It’s an app for social life.”

At Tufts, WiGo reached 100 downloads in late August 2014, which is the number needed to officially "unlock" the app so it's available to the unversity community, Zorniger said. In the week following the unlock, about 125 students had signed up. So far, over 30 different schools have unlocked WiGo.

“It's an interesting thing at Tufts because Tufts kids go out for sure, but it’s not the ideal market,” Zorniger said. “There are some campuses that have totally unlocked themselves in a matter of a week and doing it at Tufts is a little bit of a different ballgame.”

Both evoqe and WiGo are considering expanding to connect college communities in Boston with each other, but only if and when the time comes.

“Right now it’s such an easy way to roll out an app, to focus on a college, [to say] let’s get that college community going,” Zorniger said. “In the long run plans of WiGo I think [expanding it to connect different schools] is definitely a potential, but right now I think we’re strongly focusing on just getting those strong communities at a specific college and branching out from that.”

Bravenec expressed similar goals for the future of evoqe.

“[We want to] maximize the value that we can create here, make sure we test it and make sure it works and then look into schools in Boston,” he said.

Although social apps are often put together in the same category, the creators of these apps do not necessarily view others as competition. evoqe's creators described WiGo as a welcome complement to their app.

“Our app is more about information, more about the ‘where’ rather than the ‘who,’” Kim said. “That’s where the fields are different. They’re completely compatible; they can completely coexist.”

Asante agreed that the creation of additional social apps is not an obstacle for evoqe's success.

“We’re excited to see that someone else sees a similar problem,” he said.

Sophomore Larry Evans was exposed to the social app community through friends, many of whom have identified the same problem, and some of whom are working to create their own social apps.

“There’s no single app that has a control over the market yet,” he said. “It’s going to happen eventually, but currently it’s kind of at a standstill as people figure out which one they’re going to follow, and then when they figure that out we’ll know which one is going to be successful.”

Zorniger added that the social app landscape has reached an important crossroads.

“Whether it’s evoqe or WiGo, or whoever it is, there’s going to be an app that makes it in this section,” he said. “Social networking is totally a very crowded field, but I think there’s room for one more specialty app, at least.”

Meanwhile, the development of new social apps and their spread on campus doesn't appear to be slowing anytime soon.

"Tufts is in a beautiful state of entrepreneurship right now,” Asante said. “There are so many people with wonderful visions and ambitions and talent here just waiting to do something or already in the process of doing it, and the community literally every time just wraps their arms around them. So it’s just a phenomenal balance between people with visions and talent and people who just want to be there to support them.”

Ultimately, the designers' goal is to bring social interaction to the next level.

“This might sound cheesy, but actually making this app and helping people on campus, seeing people enjoy our product is what really keeps me going,” Moskowitz said. “It’s just so cool to me that people are actually using this and that people have been so supportive on this campus. It’s really been an amazing experience.”