Otago University student Scout Lin (23) holds a smartphone running a social networking application she helped create. Photo by Craig Baxter.
A social networking application created by a University of
Otago student has attracted the interest of a United States
start-up incubator founded by former Google employees.
The smartphone application, called Keen, allows users to
create and find spontaneous activities - such as going for a
coffee or playing a game of rugby - and was launched
exclusively to Otago University students at the start of
summer school this year.
Masters student in genetics Scout Lin (23), who was one of
three to create the application, said it had already
attracted about 130 users.
It had also attracted interest from possible investors and
the two other developers - from Auckland and Wellington - had
an interview with United States start-up incubator AngelPad -
founded by ex-Google employees - two weeks ago.
''It was kind of a big deal, because [only 2%] of people get
into the interview stage.''
While they were unsuccessful this time, they were invited to
apply again for the next round.
Ms Lin said the application, for Android and iOS users, gave
them a ''flexible'' way of creating real-world activities.
''If you just want a coffee catch-up, or you just want to,
for example, spontaneously climb a tree ... you normally
don't want to broadcast that on websites like Facebook, where
it either gets ignored or people don't take you seriously.''
The plan was to eventually launch it at other New Zealand
universities and take it global if it proved successful here.
Fellow developer and keen squash player Peter Chen came up
with the initial idea after lamenting the fact few of his
friends played squash and thinking about ways he could
connect and organise games.
A big factor in whether the application was a success was
whether Otago University students took it up, Ms Lin said.
''We need traction to prove that we are worth being invested
in or we are worth being mentored.''
She believed the application was good enough to become a hit
and early users had praised the concept.
''Ideally, it would be the go-to thing for people to use for
creating spontaneous activities and hopefully create lots of
communities and people passionate about certain