Two U of T students have embraced the spirit of entrepreneurship and created a new app that aims to make it easier to plan social outings.
Jimoh Ovbiagele and Abby Vaidyanathan saw a need for a platform that would easily allow students to plan hangouts without leaving one person to dictate the timing. They created Sociably to fulfill this need.
As Ovbiagele explains it, “The reason why we built the app is we know how frustrating it is to get your friends together in a short amount of time, so we decided we needed a disparate solution from what people are currently using, like group chats, sms, and Doodle. So we took the basics of all of those technologies and packed it into one lightweight design.”
As Vaidyanathan points out that “this app in many ways focuses on a problem that many students face. With everyone’s conflicting class schedules, it’s very hard to get in touch with everyone, get your plan going. I feel like this is primarily a student problem.”
The Sociably app allows users to create an event suggestion with a place, date, and time, and send the suggestion to all of the friends they want to invite. The date of the suggestion can only be set for either the day of or the day after the suggestion is being sent out.
“We want to keep it spontaneous, that’s the kind of behavior we want to promote. You don’t want people yammering in the group chat for two weeks before the meeting, it would remove the urgency of you getting the notification,” says Ovbiagele.
The app will also allow users to group people together and make lists of people with whom the users usually hang out most.
As they configure the app, users will have to log in with their Facebook accounts. The app makes use of this link to Facebook to discern a user’s close friends by searching the people with whom the user takes pictures most often. These close friends will automatically be ranked at the top of a user’s contact list, to make the invitation process easier.
Once a suggestion is sent out, recipients can suggest alternate times if the time suggested does not work for them. After alternate suggestions are sent out, all users invited to an event can up-vote or down-vote a suggested time.
The app is cross-platform and can be used with any Blackberry, ios, or Android smartphone. It also has a feature that allows users who don’t have a smartphone, or who don’t want to download the app, to receive suggestions and invites through sms. sms users can still make suggestions to change the time of an event by formatting their suggestion in a specific way.
Once the app is launched, the plan is to focus advertising mainly on the U of T campus. The creators have chosen to focus on U of T in particular because they want to use the student body to get feedback before seeking a wider release. Ovbiagele and Vaidyanathan want to observe how students use Sociably and determine what they like and dislike about the app.
Students interested in a beta-version of the app should visit www.sociablyapp.com.
Discolure: Abby Vaidyanathan is a member of the Board of Directors of Varsity Publications.