In an effort to connect people who share common interests and passions, University of Wisconsin graduate student Heemanshu Suri created the app “MyyUtopia,” a hyper-local social networking platform for the next generation.
Suri, an international student from India, has always loved math and science and discovered his interest in computer science during his time as an undergraduate student. He later went to graduate school under the UW Masters in Computer Science program, where he began developing MyyUtopia.
Before developing his app, Suri recalled a time in his life where he struggled to find a unified platform to network with others who shared similar interests as him.
“Most of my friends had moved to different states or countries and there were numerous times when I did not have good company to spend time with,” he said. “To even play a game of cricket every now and then, I had to search facebook groups and hunt down friends living near me to do just about anything.”
It was this inconvenience, Suri said, that made him look into ways to solve this problem.
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After doing a bit of research, Suri found he was not the only one facing this issue. Certain demographics such as teenagers, those who identify as LGBTQ+, introverts, and those who self-identify as socially impaired have difficulty finding groups who share similar interests, passions and hobbies, despite the popular social media platforms widely used today, Suri said.
Suri collected user feedback at each stage of the app’s growth, and spent over three months on market study and data collection before creating the first prototype.
“Since I have been working alone, and with only a computer science background, it was difficult for me to think like a user,” Suri said.
Even now, with MyyUtopia available for free download on Google Play, Suri is still making efforts to gather feedback and provide a more user-friendly experience.
The latest version allows users both one-on-one and group online chatting, offers personalized recommendations based on users interests and hobbies and matches users with friends, events and groups they might be interested in.
The app places a high priority on the safety and security of its users, allowing users to choose who they contact, who can see their location and who they want to block or report. All conversations on the app are private and secure and allow additional privacy settings for women if they choose to enable them.
MyyUtopia is meant for any and all groups of people, and the effect that MyyUtopia could have on a college campus like UW is tremendous, Suri said.
Hellen Rottier, a UW student and house fellow, said that on a campus as massive as UW’s, an app like MyyUtopia could be extremely helpful for many students.
“With such a large and diverse student body, finding people with similar interests can be hard,” Rottier said. “MyyUtopia could benefit all students and make such a large campus feel smaller.”
Suri also sees MyyUtopia as a way of helping international students, who leave their family and friends back home to come to UW. Suri said it would give them a chance to find people familiar with or interested in their culture and find relevant cultural events here on campus.
In the past three months, 3,000 people have installed Suri’s app, and the requests for the iOS version has been abundant from users both in India and the United States. MyyUtopia has been featured in a number of magazines and newspapers including Madison Startups, Product Hunt, Startup Tales, and won App of the Day in Design Nominees.
Suri hopes to continue his work on MyyUtopia and help his users build the best life for themselves.
“It doesn’t matter where you come from, or what your race, age, or demographic is; the only thing that matters are the passions that you share,” Suri said. “MyyUtopia gives you a way to connect with the people who perfectly understand your hobbies, and share them too.”