Much like the success of Uber has inspired others to adapt or improve upon its winning formula, the rise of location-based apps like Tinder has created a market for specialized competitors. A crop of entrepreneurs is now expanding on the concept further, creating platforms that help people find platonic friendships.
Like an informal version of Meetup, Wiith connects nearby people who share similar interests so they can hang out with someone new and “escape the familiar.” Similar to location-based dating apps, the platform uses geolocation to find nearby people, allowing for more spontaneity in how they socialize—the difference being that matches are based on shared passion points rather than attraction. As Co-Founder Jeff Hodnett explained to TechCrunch, Wiith fills a gap that platforms based on more calculated planning can’t, as it mimics more natural encounters, but without the stigma sometimes associated with apps like Tinder.
Friend-finder LykeMe was founded by a pair of Michigan State University students who, unsatisfied with the typical appearance-based “meet up” apps on the market, set out to create a product that made friendships and lasting relationships its focus. On a deeper level, they also hope to foster connections between people from different socio-economic backgrounds based on shared interests. Now, whether an incoming freshman is moving to a new city to begin college or relocated due to a job change, as is common with military families, the platform can serve as a tool for helping them feel less isolated.
Sri Lanka native Manju Nishanka founded Kewl Circle to counter a trend in which, as he sees it, people are immensely social online but minimally social in real life. His vision for the app is to serve as a free global platform that “brings life back to socialization” by connecting people who share similar interests and are geographically close, letting them use their phones to stop living on their phones. In addition to helping people find friends, a daily feed shows the most popular activities, check-ins, and events that users’ connections are participating in so they can discover fun happenings nearby.