New app connects users with college students based on major, interests, residence hall, and more

connect-student-appFacebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the most popular apps and websites used based on frequency, according to a recent survey by Niche.com of 7,000 high school students graduating in 2014.

In the age of instant communication it is perhaps unsurprising that teens were also three times more likely to text than make phone calls.

As millions of students gear up for college this fall, the usual mix of excitement and apprehension can be expected. However, what if there were an application which combined the best parts of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to help alleviate these emotions by giving students a jump start on their college experience?

Enter JoinU, a new mobile app for college students to network with other students based on mutual interests.

University of Miami alumni Dan Thibodeau and Justin Gaither launched a beta version of this new app on April 20, 2014. JoinU is available for iOS and has over 24,000 downloads from over 50 countries. The app will be available for Android in the fall 2014.

Dan and Justin’s passion for ed-tech entrepreneurship dates back to their dorm room loft-building business while in school. After selling 600 lofts to students, they used the profits to start eCampus Ventures in 2009 and launched their first product, Roomsurf (roommate matching) in 2010.

In 2011 they created TextSurf (for students to save on textbooks) and their latest vision with JoinU is to create one universal user experience where students can find roommates, save on textbooks, and connect with fellow classmates. 

(Next page: Connecting students to campus)

“With the upcoming 2014-15 school year quickly approaching, our apps are perfect to get any college student settled in,” says Justin. JoinU allows students to connect with classmates, discover shared interests, and like similar dorm locations or major.

JoinU screenshot

While the ed-tech space is a billion dollar industry and competitor sites do exist, JoinU is unique to the college market.

Dan states that what differentiates JoinU is that it is “the only social network that connects students based on common characteristics and interests like major, interests, residence hall, and more.” Other features allow users to “like” each other to show interest in pursuing a relationship, send direct messages to classmates or teammates, and use hashtags to connect with other students based on their conversations.

However, any new technology presents security challenges and concerns, especially when dealing with students.

To prevent any potential security risks, Dan says that they will be including a school verification (.edu) function in the app to validate that students attend their school.

JoinU has received mostly positive reviews from user testimonies. Justin notes that the only negative reviews come from students that wanted to use the app in schools not currently in the database. “We continue to add new schools to the app every week, so they won’t have to wait long!”

Michael Sharnoff is Associate Online Editor at eCampus News.


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