UMich Alumni ‘Dabl’ on social media market to connect students


When college alumnus Nathan Reynolds graduated from the University of Michigan in May 2021, he said he looked at his classmates and realized how many he had met. After more than a year of entirely virtual and extracurricular classes, Reynolds said he wants to help prospective students make new friendships on campus during the transition out of the pandemic. So Reynolds threw his cap in the air and set about building an app that would do just that. This fall, Dabl was born.

Dabl CEO Reynolds worked with co-founders Aadish Shah, a 2021 UM alumnus and Alex Elconin, a 2021 Ithaca College graduate, to launch the app on Apple’s App Store. After its pilot launch, Reynolds and Elconin added new features and redesigned the app for its December 31, 2021 relaunch.

Dabl is a social media app where UM students can create a profile and find other students to chat with. The interface displays the physical distance between the user and other Dabl profiles, allowing users to see their proximity to other students. Profiles contain pictures, basic facts – including age, gender identity and academic major – and more specific information about the user’s courses, extracurricular activities and hobbies.

Reynolds said “Dabl” gets its name from the word “dabble,” which Reynolds says captures the essence of platforming.

“(Dabble) literally means dipping your toe into something (…) there’s not really an emphasis on anything other than your willingness to try and do different things,” Reynolds said. . “We like this idea that Dabl is a place where you just go and try to meet nice people, where there’s no expectation for what you’re doing (…) it can connect you with other people (who have similar interests).”

According to the app’s promotional website, Dabl is “the app for meeting the people around you.” Reynolds, who earned a degree in computer science, said he was inspired to use what he learned in college to create a platform that would allow students to easily connect with each other.

“I just had this idea of ​​a platform that just connects you with people as you go about your day,” Reynolds said.

LSA junior Christina Lai has been using Dabl for several months now. Lai said the app was crucial to her social experience as a transfer student and helped her make friends on campus despite the physical limitations of the ongoing pandemic. Lai said she especially likes that the app helps her connect with other students studying similar subjects.

“I like how you can see what (other students) are studying because…let’s say someone is in psychology, because personally I’m studying BCN,” Lai said. “I (thought), ‘Oh, we could have the same class together,’ so I would reach out and then say, ‘Hey, what class are you taking?'”

Freshman engineer Derek Miller was an early adopter of Dabl after the initial launch in the fall 2021 semester. He said he first learned about the app when Elconin and Shah were making it. promotion within the Innovation Living Community in East Quad. Miller said he appreciates that the app was created by UM alumni who know the campus culture and the social media habits of UM students.

“(Elconin and Shah) came to where I live in the Innovation Living Community (and) everyone was very happy to support the entrepreneurship that they were doing,” Miller said. “If you’re going to have a college social media app, (Dabl) is much more college oriented…in terms of social media, it’s very optimized for UM students.”

Shah graduated from University in Data Science. He said his education prepared him to do data and marketing work for the Dabl project, but his experience in the UM community was perhaps even more important.

“Michigan has helped me in a ton of ways, tangible ways with the technical skills and building a solid foundation of what the engineering process looks like,” Shah said. “But the community in Michigan is also just phenomenal. I mean, you throw a stone in the air and it might land on a great business student, it might land on a talented programmer, designer, lawyer; it is the most precious thing that (the University) can offer.

Elconin, who studied international politics and economics at Ithaca College in New York, said he had known Reynolds since elementary school and was happy to join Dabl’s team when he and Reynolds reconnected last fall. He said the main goals of the project are to encourage students to use technology to support in-person connections.

“Our fundamental vision is to live face to face,” Elconin said. “We try not to play on people’s addiction to their phones. All we’re trying to do is give people a really easy and quick way to connect with people in their immediate vicinity. Hopefully (Dabl) can produce some spontaneous interactions that would happen right through your day, pre-COVID.

Dabl’s founders all say they’ve received positive feedback from student users since the app’s launch, and they’re eager to hear what students think of the changes they’ve made with the relaunch.

LSA junior Isabella Rukaj said her experience with Dabl has been overwhelmingly positive. She said having Dabl on hand has been a helpful way to find study mates in in-person classes, as she can no longer use Zoom chat to connect with peers in classes. virtual.

“I honestly think the great part of this app is that you can use it however you want, whether you’re looking for a long-term relationship or just someone to study with for your next econ exam,” Rukaj said. “I think the ability to search and choose friends and acquaintances based on your own needs is probably the best part of this app.”

Daily staff reporter Carlin Pendell can be contacted on [email protected].

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