Uni offers a unique opportunity to meet new people and forge lasting friendships. For some, it can be a vibrant, social and engaging, but that may not be everyone’s University experience.
This skew between expectation and reality of uni social life was something that Dan Kwarcinski and Michael Lahoud recognised all too well.
Dan, a Law/Neuroscience student at UNSW, says, “It’s funny to think how bright-eyed I was before I started Uni. But it’s funny, in the midst of my long commutes, my lectures, that monstrous 10-minute walk between classes and maybe a few structured social events, I was suddenly half way through my degree thinking to myself – shit … I’m not meeting that many new people at Uni.”
Dan’s Hangs Profile
His best mate Mike, a Planning student at MAQ, shared a similar experience. “I was confused,” he says, “Sure I was enjoying Uni a lot of the time, but I was struggling to meet new and diverse people. A lot of my breaks I’d spend alone at a café killing time, watching League of Legends streams on Youtube to be honest … (he laughs) … It’s so weird, I’d be surrounded by a tonne of people but have no one to really talk to.”
Mike’s Hangs Profile
After reflecting on their own experience and seeking the opinions of friends and other students, the friends saw an issue with Uni social culture. The opening line of their winning pitch at the MQES pitching competition summarises it:
“Why does a place full of literally 40,000 people sometimes feel like the loneliest place in the world?”
One of Hangs’ promotional memes describing Uni reality, which featured on UTS: Think Change Memes’ Page
Last year, exam procrastination led the duo to scribble little screens of a “meet-up app for uni students – like a dating-style app for making Uni friends and finding student parties.” 6 months later, in late February of this year, they launched and trialled their app Hangs. Even with their negligible marketing budget, thousands of students we’re registered on their platform within weeks.
The meet-up platform helps students make new friends by helping them plan “HANGS” (impromptu gatherings) around campus with people who are free at the same time. They can message each other and host real time-hangouts. They can also access a list of special offers and see parties and events coming up that may interest them.
The boys credit their growth and success to the simplicity of the platform and the sense of community it brings.
Dan says ‘Meeting new people is easier and more accessible through social media, something most students are now comfortable with. Hangs is easy – you just message someone to hang out. It removes what can otherwise be an awkward or confronting experience for a lot of people.’
The boys love shit memes
Mike confirms that Hangs is more than just its features: ‘It’s a community,’ he stresses, ‘We’ve been hosting events, parties, interacting with our users – finding out what they like, don’t like and what they want to add. We’re working hard to keep them happy.’
As the duo wrap up their first Semester, they can’t help but laugh at the turbulent adventure they’ve had to date. Their highlights?
Like any young startup, there’s always the rough patches:
“Our biggest hurdle was right at the beginning. We floated around with nothing but the idea for Hangs for a long time. I guess as students there was that underlying anxiety that came with taking a leap of faith into the unknown. But we ended up channelling that naivety and inexperience; it made us eager to learn and motivated as hell to succeed.”
“Getting kicked out of O-week and getting roasted over a bunch of app bugs in the early days was a pretty shitty way to start. But we kind of just laughed, it was super humbling and motivating.”
And then there’s the priceless moments:
Definitely when we threw our Mid Sem party with the The Bunk3r. We only had a week to promote it, but we packed it out with users from across Sydney. It was insane. For me, that was the moment when I knew we were creating a community. I felt like Van Wilder … except, you know, the less chiseled, app founder kind.”
Mike: “Minus the good with girls aspect too.” (they laugh) …
Dan: “Hey now … well yeah that too.”
Hangs Mid Sem Party, Hosted by The Bunk3r
“It’s got to be our trip to Wollongong to get interviewed for Faces of UOW. We were baffled when we found out we’d gone viral overnight in the Gong. We were laughing hysterically the whole drive there.”
As they approach Semester 2, the boys have big plans for the future of Hangs.
“We’ve had fantastic support from students, unis, businesses, clubs and event organisers,” Mike says. “We’ve been refining our app and we’re looking forward to a larger launch in Sem 2. We’ve got awesome deals – free entry and drinks at clubs like The Argyle, Sidebar and Goodbar … and we’ve got a tonne of parties planned too.”
The boys are connected with venues across Sydney and are teaming up with colleges and societies to promote and sponsor on and off-campus events. They hope to especially help new students (first years and international students) settle in by providing a means to easily form meaningful friendships and attend nearby events.
On a larger scale, Dan confirms that they are looking to launch Hangs further in the near future.
“The support of our peers has been phenomenal, and that’s been a big reason for pivoting towards hyper-localized events in NSW for Semester 2. But the app and its features are highly scalable. Our roadmap has Hangs expanding Australia wide in Semester 1 next year, and from there we’ll look to International student markets.
So there you go, if you’re a Uni student, download Hangs in preparation for Semester 2. If you’re part of a local society or college, hit the boys up to organise some cool events together!
Hangs is available to download here:
You can also keep up to date with the boys through Hangs’ fb page and their community group: