Zoe Berg

Erik Boesen ’23 says he spent his first few weekends at Yale in a funk familiar to many — wandering between word-of-mouth parties, only to find that they were overflowing, shut down or simply not the vibe.

The Hopper computer science major struck out to answer the perennial question — “What’s the move?” — by developing the app Comethru, which launched on Jan. 7. The app helps students find their friends at parties and other social events via an opt-in GPS tracking system. App users hosting events can advertise them on the app privately or publicly, and their peers can rate events on a five-point scale. As of Wednesday night, Comethru had just over 900 registered users.

“I want to make it easier for students at Yale to socialize and find out what’s happening on campus both during the day and in the evenings,” Boesen said. “I also want students, organizations and other clubs to be able to promote events that make a variety of social spaces accessible for all Yalies.”

Boesen began the project at the October 2019 YHack, Yale’s annual 36-hour hackathon, during which participants brainstorm ideas to address specific challenges or create programs based on their own inspiration. He worked with Chris Moore ’19 — the creator of the similar, now-defunct app Moves — to develop the preliminary idea but wrote all of the code for the app himself. He said he has spent over 400 hours developing the app, working on holidays, weekends and late school nights.

Though Comethru only launched over winter break, Boesen’s distinctly Generation-Z marketing skills — with dozens of first-year students posting the launch flyer on their Instagram and Snapchat stories — helped the app rack up over 600 downloads within the first two days. According to Boesen, students listed over 30 public and private events on the app during the first weekend of the spring semester. At one Silliman event — a first-year birthday that doubled as an informal launch party — close to 100 students attended, though the hosts estimated that they had invited around 50 students personally, and the rest had found the event on Comethru.

“[Comethru] is a great way for people who don’t love frats or larger social environments to pursue other options and find separate spaces at Yale where they can enjoy themselves,” said Josephine Holubkov ’23, who used the app last weekend to make sure a word-of-mouth party was still going on. “On the other hand, the app also works with frats to publicize their parties, so those who do enjoy the frat environment also have the opportunity to be more aware of what’s happening around them.”

On the app’s home page, users can see the timing and location of upcoming public events, in addition to any private events they have been invited to. A map page shows users their current location on campus and the locations of upcoming events. Student clubs and New Haven establishments — such as Toad’s Place — have also used Comethru to post event announcements.

When no events are posted, the home page reads, “Nothing’s happening right now. What is this, Harvard?” —  an allusion to Harvard’s milquetoast social scene.

To host an event, students must list a location and start time. A variety of optional features allow hosts to personalize their events, including options to list a 21+ alcohol disclaimer, a maximum attendee capacity and an end time. Hosts can decide whether the event is open to the public, and, if it is private, whether guests can invite others. The app also links to Venmo, so attendees can help offset the cost of hosting an event.

Students can “friend” other users on the app, including those who have linked their Facebook profiles. The app also boasts a safety feature, which lists a range of phone numbers, including the numbers for the University Police Dispatch, Safe Rides and Sexual Harassment and Assault Response & Education.

Users can view real-time information about events while they are taking place: the number of attendees, a list of friends at the event and its rating out of five. This information can help Yalies make more informed decisions about how to spend their night.

“I hope [Comethru] can make the whole Yale party experience a little less exclusive and stressful, especially for new incoming students,” said Cindy Kuang ’23, who attended the launch party last weekend. “I’m excited to see how and if this app will ultimately change the party culture here.”

Boesen said he plans to continuously make improvements and add new features, such as the ability for hosts to post updates to event pages and the ability to limit events to certain class years and residential colleges.

Boesen has collaborated with the Yale College Council’s Business Team throughout the app’s development, brainstorming new features and coordinating outreach to other student organizations. Later this month, the YCC will help promote the app with a formal rollout campaign across social media platforms.

“[Our] goal has always been to use Comethru to centralize the diversity of student activities on campus — whether that’s a cooking workshop, a speaker event, or a dance party — and do so in a safe way,” said YCC president Kahlil Greene ’21.

Boesen said that expanding Comethru to other college campuses is “on the roadmap” but added that the app needs to be refined and tested by Yale students before it can broaden its reach. Still, he said, the infrastructure to expand to other campuses is already in place, with talks in the works to launch at other colleges.

 

Olivia Tucker | olivia.tucker@yale.edu