Hey VINA! is a new app to aid the modern woman in making friends. Since the moment it launched last week it’s been buzzing and bouncing around the Internet, talked about everywhere from Cosmo to the NY Times. And it’s not a surprise. There are fewer things in life that keep you kept together at the seams than the people you phone when shit falls apart. It’s important, and arguably necessary to keep good company.
Created in San Francisco by Olivia June Poole and Jen Aprahamian, this team of two aims to reinvent the way we assemble our squad. The idea was born, like most good ones, out of intuition and necessity. Poole had relocated to SF and found herself, mid-twenties, and for the first time ever without a booming social network. She says, “I knew no one, I didn’t come for a job, and I had no network. It’s intimidating to put yourself out there, especially if you’re new to town.” So she started online dating and used the algorithm to make friends, but found it to be a tad strange and only a little successful. Read on below to get the full scoop on how this little need became a very big idea.
The reception of Hey VINA! has been incredible. In a world where we cannot beat the fact that our lives are run from our phones, it aims to bridge the gap into real meaningful social interaction and relationships. Sign me up.
LF: You have been popping up all over the Internet in the last week since your launch. Is this what you hoped would happen?
OP: It’s more than what we could have hoped, and we are just totally blown away, elated. We’re dancing in our yoga pants in the living room to Beyonce.
LF: Everyone is calling it a “tinder-esque” app for lady friends, is this accurate? How does it actually work?
OP: The way it’s similar to Tinder is in the swiping card element, which is just a great design for a phone experience. Also, the double opt into meeting, which reduces a lot of time in messaging people that aren’t interested in you. It’s all about increasing confidence in approaching people.
LF: Makes sense, so how is it different then? I mean is it just taking people trying to fuck out of the equation?
OP: Computers are really good at figuring out who you are compatible with. It’s a match of your interests and what is important to you. And software can do that. But what software can’t do is detect chemistry. And that’s what’s important for dating. It’s not as important for making friends. It uses the part that works, and gets rid of the element we cannot predict.
LF: There was an app that came out last fall, it’s called Squad, and the idea is to link up groups of friends, Tinder style. Is this larger than just going out?
OP: One of the challenges of meeting new friends, is that A, it’s really hard if you’re introverted. And not everybody likes to go out party all the time. Maybe the bar scene isn’t for you, and maybe you want to find someone to drink mimosas and knit, where are you going to find that person?
LF: Did you have an issue making friends, where was this born from?
OP: After moving to SF I had started online dating to make friends and messaged women platonically to see if they’d like to hang out. And I found out I wasn’t alone. I met a lot of women doing the same thing. I started an all women networking happy hour later, and realized it was working. People were making friends, and finding roommates, and getting jobs. So, we used the idea of having a women only social space, and knowing that computers are good at matching you with compatible people, we decided to make an app for it.
LF: Amazing, so I get moving to a new city or branching out in the one you’re already in. But what if I am traveling for work all the time. Does, it work in multiple locations?
OP: Yes, so right now it’s only available to the locale where you live, but in the coming weeks we are launching features that will allow you to belong to multiple places. You can also preset your location. Say, you’re going to Paris in two weeks, you can set that up and start networking and reaching out before you even go. Or you can set it to where you’re geo located, and it will know to match you based on where you’re at. There will be a number of options for locations.
LF: You are currently in New York and SF, right?
OP: Yes, and there is currently a wait list in both of those cities even though we are live. The interest we’ve had is beyond what our systems were ready for. So, we are building and fixing and getting everything up to speed. Basically, right now it feels like we are trying to run a marathon in Louboutins. It looks good, but we’ve got blisters. This is a weird analogy, haha.
LF: Naturally, creating something like this, there are going to be naysayers, and people doubting you. How did you know this would work? Did you know?
OP: I just knew in my gut that this was something people wanted. And, that I wasn’t the only one who wanted it. Every time I told a woman what I was doing, her reaction was oh my god I need this. Every time I told a guy, they would ask, is that a problem?
LF: Interesting, why do you think that is? I mean, you’ve made a specific choice to be a woman based network.
OP: From a social psychology standpoint, men and women bond in very different ways. Men tend to bond over activities and shared interests, it’s the act of doing something that bonds them. Where as women bond through, for the most part through, emotional disclosure The activity is just a background thing, it’s just context.
LF: It’s so true.
OP: I mean look at book clubs. You talk about what you’ve read for the first fifteen minutes and the rest of the night is all about drinking wine and talking about your lives.
LF: Who is your ideal user.
OP: Ideally people are on here to make genuine, real friends. It’s really about the mentality of community over competition. It’s about women pushing each other forward, and surrounding themselves with people they respect and admire.
LF: What else can we expect from you guys?
OP: Well, Hey VINA is just one of the products of VINA. Our big vision is to develop an entire eco system of products that feed into one another and cater to the needs of the modern woman.
LF: How fast do you live?
OP: Right now I feel like I’m in a Formula 1.