Tech start-up BoomFlint, launching Friday, is seeking to become the go-to meet-up app for college students.
BoomFlint only allows students on the Forbes list of top 200 colleges to download and access the app, founder Brandon Gelbart said.
“I was a Tinder user,” said Gelbart, who is 24 and a recent college graduate. “It was cool because it was all college kids.”
The BoomFlint app features an interface that will be familiar to Tinder users. The app shows a profile and picture of potential matches and users swipe left for “yes” and right for “no.”
The similarity is intentional, Gelbart said.
“Eventually Tinder became something everybody was on,” Gelbart said, “There’s got to be a way to take what Tinder was and make it for college kids again.”
BoomFlint is attempting to accomplish this by using “geo-fences” that map out college campuses. Users within the fences can use and access the app, while users outside of the fences cannot.
The idea echoes the founding of Facebook, where initially an .edu email address was required to sign up for the then-fledgling social media service.
Unlike the social media giant, Boomflint does not intend to expand beyond colleges, Gelbart said.
The geo-fences have pros and cons. While they do limit users to college campuses, users who live off campus cannot use the app when they leave campus.
Additionally, an .edu address is not required to sign up for the app. Anyone on a college campus, not just college students, could potentially sign up for and use the app.
“I wouldn’t use it,” IU sophomore Alec Lasley said, “I think more people use Tinder.”
Despite these hurdles, the collegiate focus of the app is clear and goes beyond geo-fences.
Of more than 200 employees, only Gelbart and the company’s iOS developer are college graduates, the founder said.
“Everybody’s getting paid,” Gelbart said, “Often as much as two times minimum wage.”
After working unpaid college internships, the founders of BoomFlint are practicing different employment practices, Gelbart said.
The project is privately funded.
An additional collegiate focus is to use students as the face of the app rather than models, Gelbart said.
Every three months, BoomFlint will hold a competition between its users to submit a video showing a talent or skill and the winner of the competition will receive a $5,000 scholarship and be the face of the app, Gelbart said.
While a totally college-centric version of a meet-up app is novel, recent months have seen the launch of many Tinder-like apps that cater to specific populations.
Other Tinder-like services include the recently launched app the League, which caters to upper class individuals in major cities, and happn, which matches users with people they have recently been geographically close to.
“BoomFlint is all about education,” Gelbart said. “It’s a network just for college students.”