NU students launch app to promote in-person socialization


Photo courtesy of VibeQuest

VibeQuest founders Rousseau, Richardson, Moses and Sanghavi. The four pose behind a banner they made ahead of Saturday morning’s launch party.

Audrey Hettleman, Copy Editor

Weinberg sophomores Avi Sanghavi, Jack Moses and Carl Richardson were sitting in Moses’s room late one Friday night last spring with a pressing dilemma.

“We’re two football players and a guy who knows like the entire grade, and we have no move?” Richardson said. “What’s wrong with us?”

To ensure their nights would no longer be planless, the three decided to create VibeQuest, a social media app that brings people together in-person by creating a virtual map of local events.

Sanghavi, Moses and Richardson, along with Communication sophomore Alexa Rousseau and McCormick sophomore Conor Kotwasinski, founded the company in March. Now, six months after founding VibeQuest, the team launched a beta version of the app on Saturday.

Through VibeQuest, organizations can post events on the app either publically, so everyone can see it, or privately, so only those who are invited can view the event. To protect VibeQuest users’ privacy, the names of public event attendees are kept private, unless a user has them added as a “friend” on the app.

The startup hosted a tailgate before Saturday’s football game and a post-game party after, which they advertised through their app and other social media platforms. Sanghavi estimated the total attendance for the two events to be around 1,600 students.

The launch party took place the day after multiple individuals filed reports of alleged drugging at the Alpha Epsilon Pi house and just before a similar report was filed about the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house.

As an app that markets itself at least in part as a way to advertise parties, Sanghavi said the events of the weekend have caused his team to reevaluate its relationship with Greek life. The team expressed its views on the matter in an Instagram post on Tuesday.

“We understand that our event catered heavily to Greek life,” the post said. “This is not the direction that we want VibeQuest to follow now, or ever. We understand (there) is a lot of doubt right now — but we want to reiterate that VibeQuest expands so far beyond Greek life. We wanted to publicly say we are sorry for enabling a Greek event.”

Going forward, the team will no longer be co-hosting parties with fraternities, although those organizations will still be able to post events on their app.

As someone unaffiliated with any Greek organization, Sanghavi said he wanted to stress that their company aims to help all kinds of NU students find connection, not just those in fraternities and sororities.

“Northwestern offers so much, and you know a lot of it just isn’t seen right now because people are posting or making appearances through Greek life to make things seem like they’re a lot brighter and sunnier than they are,” Sanghavi said. “I think that VibeQuest is going to try, at least over the next few months, to eliminate that kind of mindset, which will allow people to make a hopefully comfortable transition into just being themselves.”

While the beta version contains only the app’s most basic features, Moses said he hopes that in the future, the project will continue adapting to support the needs of more students.

Sanghavi and Kotwasinski worked on developing the code for the app and also outsourced it to developers, and will continue doing so as the app develops.

“Down the line as we expand (and) grow the app, we anticipate it becoming somewhat of a college hub, so that everything ‘college’ is VibeQuest,” Moses said.

VibeQuest has reached out to local restaurants in Evanston as well as NU clubs and organizations to coordinate events. Future updates to the app will allow for other types of organizations to connect.

After over a year of remote classes, club meetings and more, Richardson said he hopes VibeQuest can help students adjust to the return to in-person interaction.

“The people you meet (at Northwestern) are just absolutely phenomenal,” Richardson said. “Helping in some way, shape or form to facilitate that interaction between the awesome students here… that’s what we’re really kind of aiming to do.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @AudreyHettleman

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