During their freshman year, two Princeton students — Michael Pinsky and Vaidhy Murti — happened to sit next to each other to watch a Yankees game. Neither expected the chance encounter to turn into a business venture that would reach colleges all across the country.
Pinsky and Murti, along with a team of around a dozen other students, launched their brainchild — a social media website and app called Friendsy — at Princeton in May 2013. Since then, Friendsy has spread to 40 schools across the country — including Yale, which saw the arrival of the app last week.
Any user with a Yale NetID can create an account and make connections with fellow students for either friendships, hookups, or dates.
“We wanted to make something that would help people branch out of their friend circle with other people on their campuses,” Pinsky said. “You can click on different buttons, like friends, hook up or date, and if the other person clicks the same button back for you, both parties get notified.”
Friendsy launched at Yale on Sep. 1 and saw 200 people registering in the first 24 hours.
As of Sunday night, over 250 Yale students had registered for a Friendsy account. Pinsky said those users have made more than 150 mutual matches with each other.
After setting up their accounts, students are asked to create a profile with information including their major, class year and hometown. From there, they can start making connections with other students. But Friendsy has other uses too — the site contains a “murmur” page where users can post quotes heard around campus, and students are also allowed to browse the profiles of all other Friendsy users at Yale.
“One person wrote to us and said they found their soul mate through Friendsy,” Pinsky said. “What more could you really want in an app? That’s why we do this.”
Friendsy does a good job of pulling various benefits from other sites and apps to create one complete product, said Aaron Troncoso ’17, who went to high school with Pinsky and has helped promote the app through Yale’s various Facebook groups.
Troncoso called Friendsy an interesting concept because it “unites the anonymity of apps like Tinder with the social media stuff of Facebook.”
Lillian Bitner ’17 said she checks her account often for messages from other users. But despite its appeal, Bitner says it is hard to make connections when relatively few students are on the site.
“I think if more people joined, it would make the site a lot more interesting,” Bitner said. She added that the app seems to still have a number of technical flaws, as it often crashes on her phone.
But students have not joined the app just because of its promotion at Yale. Yombe Fonkeu ’15 said that a friend from New York City told him about Friendsy when students at Colombia started connecting through the site.
Pinsky, Murti and the rest of the Friendsy team say they hope to continue working on the app after graduation.
“From an idea we managed to create something that has made a positive impact on peoples’ lives,” Murti said. “Knowing that people are using it and the fact that we love what we do — that actually makes it so much fun.”
Friendsy is available for both iPhone and Android, and it also exists in website form.