EDMONTON – A smart phone app developed by Alberta university students has received acclaim from an important player in the industry.
A group of University of Alberta and University of Athabasca students developed a smart phone app called Chitter. It’s a free app that makes it easier to connect post-secondary students in a friendly and semi-anonymous environment.
“We wanted to create a strong sense of community. You know, bringing people together, helping them to feel like they’re a part of that university experience, and that’s kind of what inspired us to build this app,” co-founder Kyle Kaiser said.
The Chitter team entered a contest in the fall held by Silicon Valley company Y-Combinator. It beat out 6,000 applicants for one of 100 spots chosen that has earned the Alberta team $120,000 to develop their app, as well as a three month apprenticeship in Silicon Valley where they are receiving mentoring and a chance to meet with possible investors.
“It’s amazing. We’ve met some of the CEOs and co-founders of some billion dollar companies, and the ability to just talk to them and learn from their experience has been incredible,” Kaiser said.
The app was first launched last summer at the U of A. After quickly growing in popularity, the Chitter team expanded the venture to four other universities across B.C. and Alberta, and now has about 20,000 users.
“Back in the day when Facebook started in 2005 it was all about this college experience, but as it’s kind of evolved now it’s kind of like losing its touch,” Chitter co-founder Sabby Choudhary said.
“There’s so much going on on Facebook. There’s no app for only college students, so we wanted to focus on that.”
The group began the mentorship program in San Francisco in January.
Y-Combinator has reportedly launched more than 800 startups worth $30 billion.