Yes, there is already Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr. But two local recent college grads have brought another social network into the world: SLFY, a free app that's restricted to university students and meant to facilitate interaction across the quad, not across the world.
"Basically, it creates a private social network for each campus," says Othman Krafess, one of the cofounders. "[It's] a useful tool for the students, to help them in their daily lives on campus."
Krafess is a Moroccan native who graduated with a finance degree last spring from the University of Miami. His business partner, Aston Zial-Collet, is a Frenchman who recently graduated from Nova Southeastern. After months of envisioning a new, student-only social network, the two came up with SLFY, which is centered on images and allows users to search and connect with other users — all fellow students, as verified by a university email address — by criteria such as name, major, student organization, and nationality. The app is meant as a place to turn if you need to find a computer science major to help with a project, Krafess says, or as a fun platform to send a message to the cute girl in geometry class. "[Users] can type 'France,'" he says, "and all the people from France will come up."
SLFY debuted, in beta form, to 500 testers at the University of Miami last year. The biggest positive feedback, Krafess says, was that users really appreciated the network's restrictions: "They really liked the fact that the faces they were seeing on the app are actual faces they were seeing on campus." Also popular was a feature that allows users to send a set of flattering messages — "Looking good today," "Beautiful smile" — either with the sender's name or without.
"It's kind of fun," Krafess says, "to send anonymous compliments."
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After tweaking, including the addition of a link to users' Instagram pages, to add more of a news feature, Krafess and Zial-Collet launched SLFY at UM earlier this fall. The two founders have already been talking with representatives from other universities around Florida; next semester, they plan to launch at FIU, UF, and FSU.
Eventually, they hope to roll out SLFY at universities throughout the nation. In the age of 1 billion Facebook users, SLFY can succeed, Krafess believes, because its networks will remain restricted.
"All the students, they have in common one thing: that they are going to the same university," he says. "By connecting them, we want them to not miss those opportunities for relationships."