Club connections

Mobile app aims to link up students with campus activities

A social media app aimed at students is coming to a university near you. No, this is a new one. 

While attending Ottawa’s Carleton University, Elias Fares found it difficult to keep up his studies and and be well-informed about school events, both social and official. So he decided to create a mobile app to keep students up-to-date on campus activities and clubs.

“I quickly learned that many other students had the same problem,” he explains. “I then decided to create Campusgrids as a one-stop hub for all campus-related activities between student clubs and events.” 

It all began as a website,
campusgrids.com, and quickly blossomed into a project bigger than one person. Fares recruited Tedy Tadi, and brothers Ryan and Robbie Elias - all friends since childhood - and co-founded the business Campusgrids in the fall of 2011. Then they changed things up a little.

“We decided to take down the website and turn it into a mobile app,” he recalls. “We released Campusgrids locally in Ottawa last year in September of 2013 to test it out.”

Like other social media sites and apps, students download the app, create a user profile and connect directly with businesses, clubs and other students. They can also create pages for their clubs, groups and businesses, and when they post something new, a notification is sent to students with similar interests. In their profiles, students select their interests from a list of categories and the app automatically connects them with clubs and students that match, much like a dating site.

“We received a lot of positive feedback and feature requests,” Fares says.  “So we hired two students to help us develop the next stage of the app and worked on it full-time over the summer.”

While in its first year and only available for three universities - Ottawa, Carleton and Algonquin -  144 social groups, 200 student connections and 289 events were created by users - pretty impressive numbers for an independent app. 

“Now, we have released the new version of the app and made it available to all colleges and universities across Canada,” Fares says.

It will face serious competition. Campusgrids not only competes with such established social media outlets as Facebook and Instagram, but also with other schools and student groups who are developing their own apps; the University of the Fraser Valley’s Student Union Society contracted Oohlala to create a custom app. According to its website, Oohlala-crafted apps are now used by over 400 schools around the world, including Montreal’s McGill University.

The free Campusgrids app is now available for iPhone devices from iTunes, and Android users can download the app from Google Play.

Published in Volume 69, Number 2 of The Uniter (September 10, 2014)

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