Two years ago when I first moved to Chicago, I naively joined Tinder in hopes of finding lady friends.
After moving, I left behind my core group of friends and I was hungry for immediate connections and grown up relationships. News flash: Being an adult is difficult and making friends as an adult is even worse and harder than you imagined.
After swiping my night away, I quickly deleted the Tinder app and started volunteering, interning, and approaching people in order to make friends. It was old-fashioned and it totally worked.
However, at the time, I could have definitely used the creators of Hey! VINA to make my life a little easier — especially since volunteering was filled with women way out of my age bracket and approaching people in bars can still, like Tinder, come off in the wrong way.
The application Hey! VINA launched in San Francisco and New York with the hopes of creating a Tinder-style application that helps women make new friends in their city.
I spoke with co-founder Olivia June Poole via email about the applications future, incentives, and overall incredible mission.
Tell me a little bit about your background. Were both of you friends before collaborating on the app? How did you decide on creating something like Hey! VINA?
Olivia June Poole: I’ve been working in tech for about six years doing marketing, community development, and design, and Jen about five years, though we’ve both been in our own creative processes for the inspiration of Hey! VINA for each more than a decade!
The two of us met working at General Assembly where we each were early employees in SF and LA, we were colleagues and friends, and always stayed in touch after we moved on to pursue other endeavors.
The inspiration for the app came from the culmination of a lot of different life experiences. When I first moved to SF seven years ago, I had a hard time getting out there and meeting new friends in a new city, and I online dated. I realized that online dating sites were actually better at matching me for friendship than love, and decided to message a few women on the site. Fast forward a bit, I co-founded an offline women’s group called Ladies Who Vino to help meet more women in the area and help others like me, and we immediately got more than 60 women at our first happy hour. We’ve been doing it monthly ever since! In wanting to scale the women-only social experience, I decided that tech was the best solution!
How does the process of creating an application work? Can you take us through the steps of planning and executing?
OJP: This is a BIG question that to answer fully would require a book-length response. The most important part of developing an app is the user research. Use lean startup methodologies to get market evidence of need to help develop your concept to be something that people really love. Other than that, work hard, work often, and never stop asking for advice or help!
I can’t even imagine all of the coding that goes into creating an application like this. Pretty impressive! What are some of the challenges that come with trouble shooting and fixing bugs?
OJP: Thanks! The biggest challenge is going from the zero to one of an app, and being a very small team. You have to find people who aren’t necessarily entrenched in your code to help you problem solve though the various (many) issues that inevitably come up! It’s very different to go from working on a team to solo development.
I tried using Tinder once for making friends when I first moved to a big city — totally failed. I’m so thrilled to finally have an app where I can find friends to hang out with. Are you planning on expanding to other parts of the country?
OJP: We’re expanding around the world, and very, very soon! We’re a small team, so we’re working around the clock (literally) to get the platform to support the overwhelming response we’ve gotten. We’ll be launching the largest cities first, so it’s been great to watch areas that pop-up around the world.
What is your main goal for Hey! VINA and what do you hope that it achieves for women?
OJP: Our goal is to give women access to building a support network and community for themselves where ever they are in their lives or in the world! We’re also hoping to inspire a cultural shift of collaboration over competition among women. There’s no shortage of greatness in the world, and we need to help each other become our best versions of ourselves.
Are you excited to try Hey! VINA and meet women in your area? Download the application, take the quiz, and join the waitlist!