Students launch app to help promote connections, spontaneous plans on campus

Rachel Lew

Some students may find it difficult to make friends at a university of more than 50,000 people, but two UT students have launched an app to connect people with similar interests and make campus feel smaller.

Kickit, an app created by Ashar Malik, electrical and computer engineering junior, and physics junior Eric Ngo, currently has about 320 users and allows UT students to log in through Facebook, connect with other users and make spontaneous plans based on common activities, instead of planning events in advance.

Ngo said he was inspired by his own experiences of meeting people as a second-year transfer student. 

“I transferred from UTSA, and it was hard to find an organization or community where I really fit in,” Ngo said. “I put myself out there and explored all these organizations, but it can be really hard to get in touch with people and do things on the spot.”

Malik said he hopes the app will help students make friends more organically by connecting them to others who enjoy the same activities.

“I like playing volleyball, and sometimes I’d play and there would be people there, other times there wouldn’t be,” Malik said. “In my case, it’s a way to always have people to play volleyball with without having to always text friends and put effort into making plans.”

Ngo said Kickit allows students to create groups within the app and select certain people to notify about their activities. 

“Think about it like sending a Snapchat,” Ngo said. “You can either post it to your story or send it to the select group of friends. Same thing for Kickit, but instead you can create lists or communities of those people.”

Malik said the app also allows people to communicate through specific group chats. 

“The biggest difference is that other social media apps fight for your attention,” Malik said. “Facebook and Instagram want you to spend a lot of time on your phone, which takes away from what really matters. Kickit wants to do the opposite and help you connect with the people in your life in person.”

Electrical engineering freshman Malachi Nichols said the app helps him with interactions such as study groups and lunch meetups without having to plan.

“The problem with other apps or systems that try to [connect users] is that they look too far in advance,” Nichols said. “Do I know what I’m doing a month from now at 5 p.m.? Of course not, but I definitely know what I’m doing within the next 24 hours. Kickit events expire within 24 hours to create more relevant participation instead of a ‘might be going.’” 

Ngo said the team hopes to increase the number of users in the fall, especially among incoming students.

“We want to make this a really great product for people to use,” Ngo said. “Once we have that, we’ll look to expanding to other colleges.”

The app is available for download on iPhone and Android.