When Olivia Poole moved to San Francisco to start a new life, she didn’t realize finding a new group of girlfriends would be the hardest part of the move.
After joining an online dating site, Poole — who works in the tech industry — made an important realization: computer algorithms used by online dating sites are really good at figuring out who you are compatible with.
“When you’re dating and you walk into a room you know who you are attracted to. But you don’t know who you could be friends with,” she said.
That’s when the idea for “Hey! VINA” was born.
Launched at the end of January, the app allows women to meet potential new friends using a Tinder-style swiping system. It may sound catty at first – but Poole assured me that the app is designed to suggest friends based on personality and lifestyle quizzes, proximity and mutual Facebook friends to ensure a good friendship match.
After you download the app, you will be asked to go through an introductory quiz which asks questions about your personality and lifestyle. For example, are you more interested in meeting up for coffee or wine, or do you like yoga or running.
WATCH: Women of Global News discuss the “Hey! VINA” app
Once you are set up, you’ll be able to swipe through the selection of users the app thinks you will mesh well with. Just like Tinder, if you both swipe right on each other’s profiles, you’ll be invited to chat with each other.
Soon – in Poole’s words – you’ll be on the path to creating a girl squad to rival Taylor Swift’s.
“One of the things we know as friends is that it’s all about lifestyle compatibility and interest capability,” Poole told Global News. “The world is ready for a global community of girl squads.”
The app is currently available to women in San Francisco, New York and L.A. – but “Hey! VINA” has garnered so much attention that the team is working hard to speed up expansion across the U.S. and eventually here in Canada.
“It’s been 13 days since we released the app and it’s been more than we ever imagined and it’s been heartwarming for us because we knew it’s a problem we wanted to solve,” said Poole.
“It’s been really great to get messages from people in Toronto and Vancouver saying they want to be on the platform.”
But when the app does launch in more cities, it could present itself as an important tool for women travelling abroad by themselves. For example, if you found yourself in a foreign city and don’t know anyone, an app like “Hey! VINA” could be used to meet up with other solo travelling women or local expats.
And while the idea of a “Tinder for friendship” may seem laughable at first, the idea is really taking off with women around the world.