Vybe Social app connects users looking for new friends

Catherine Cahn, Life and Arts Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the March 11, 2022 flipbook.

At first, traveling abroad seemed exciting to Catherine Murray, but as her trip to Guatemala approached, she worried that she would feel isolated without established friends in the country. 

Wondering how she would find peers without any prior connections, the UT class of 2019 alumna came up with a solution — Vybe Social.

“I want people to go to any given city and know where (they) can hang out with people,” Murray said. “How can (they) get offline, go meet people and have real-life interactions?” 

Murray, Vybe’s Founder and CEO, started Vybe as a bar and restaurant review app in 2020 to organize and present reviews for users based on their demographic, age and city. Now, after the February launch of Vybe’s second iteration, Vybe 2.0, Murray hopes the app will help Texas city dwellers — predominantly college students — find community despite communication barriers.  

“(We hoped) that if you have a more curated review experience, you would know where people are typically going,” Murray said. “But we realized that’s still not real time.” 

Murray said Vybe 2.0 accomplishes more of what she originally set out for: allowing people to post about their current and upcoming plans. To accomplish this, users can make their posts viewable to only their followers or to everyone within a selected distance radius. These posts, also called “hangouts,” serve as an invitation for others to join. 

According to Grace Tippit, business sophomore and Vybe’s director of college programming, the update came at a beneficial time because the COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally altered social lives and communication. Tippit said she hopes Vybe will bring people’s social interactions back to what they used to be pre-pandemic. 

“People have tended to meet less people and just stick with their friend group or very close-knit people,” Tippit said. “We’re trying to combat that and have people go out and meet people they wouldn’t have before.” 

As students rebound from the pandemic, Tippit said Vybe is working to break down barriers. Instead of keeping plans contained in individual group chats, Vybe opens them up to anyone who chooses to download the app. 

“It takes away a lot of that exclusivity and allows you to know what’s happening without a lot of work,” Murray said. 

Logan Lett, a UT class of 2021 alumna, started using Vybe after graduating as a way to meet new people. She said she has since made friends from attending Vybe events and appreciates how easy it is to find plans through the app. 

Though she enjoys Vybe’s effectiveness in her post-grad social life, Lett said the app would have been beneficial to her as a UT student.

“I would have used it a lot at UT,” Lett said. “I wish that it was a thing while I was at (UT) because it’s always good to meet new people and go to events like that.”

With more than 3,000 downloads, Murray said she believes Vybe has incredible potential for growth, especially on UT’s campus. As Vybe ambassadors, many of whom are UT students, continue to spread word about the app to different student organizations, Murray said she is excited to watch it expand.

“I believe in the value of personal connection, especially coming out of COVID — we’ve been so isolated,” Murray said. “Vybe fills that gap because we’re letting you post, ‘This is where I am, and this is what I’m doing.’ It’s essentially saying anyone’s invited.”