Mobile app makes campus events easy to find

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo by Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Bencoolen, a student band, opens for Cold War Kids at Fall Fest in August. The app U Nightlife lists GW student-oriented events, such as Fall Fest. All users of the app must have a University email address.

While scrolling through GW-related Facebook pages last year, junior Melia Mbanefo found a job offer fit for the iPhone generation: become a team member for a new mobile app on campus.

The app, called U Nightlife, is a project by SUNY Binghamton students Nathan Grotticelli and Justin Hill that’s available for download on nine college campuses across the country. Since the app came to GW in spring 2013, the founders have tried to market it as a tool for streamlining how students find out about events on campus.

Mbanefo has worked as the GW representative for the app for the past year. In addition to word-of-mouth, she said she has passed out fliers and cards about the app across Foggy Bottom.

“In the beginning, I told all my close friends to download it and then after posting on Facebook groups, more people downloaded it,” Mbanefo said.

Grotticelli said GW has the second-highest number of users among the nine schools, trailing behind the University of Michigan. Grotticelli and Hill said they are keeping the number of users at each school private. The app is also available at larger state schools like Michigan State University, University of Illinois and University of Central Florida.

The app’s interface looks similar to Instagram’s: the news feed includes pictures of the event alongside a date, time and cost.

“You can only tell so many people about an event coming up soon, and now it’s on an app so anyone can find it,” Mbanefo said.

While apps like Got Eventz and the Washington Post Going Out Guide feature events in D.C., Hill said U Nightlife is the only one geared toward District college students. It lists fraternity parties, sporting events and movie nights, and all users must have a University email address.

“It’s usually for things at night, so any parties or guest speakers in Lisner, if any student orgs are having event, stuff like that,” Mbanefo said.

When deciding which schools to use to showcase the app, both developers reached out to high school friends who now attend college in different states.

Their friends looked into how their respective schools share event information, then Hill and Grotticelli chose the nine campuses where they thought the app would be most popular.

“If we felt more confident with fifteen, we would have done fifteen, or seven then we would have done seven, but we stuck with these nine because we have ties in each of these schools,” Hill said.

The duo plans to keep offering U Nightlife for free and refuses to feature ads, an effort to keep the experience as clean as possible.

“We are not making any revenue from our users right now, but that’s kind of not what we are concerned with,” Hill said. “We are concerned with making a product that we know is awesome and that people are going to love to use.”

U Nightlife is available for download on the App Store for iPhone users. It is not yet available to Android users, but the team hopes to have a version ready by the end of the semester. Hill and Grotticelli are also looking to expand to other schools.

“We are definitely a tool that’s trying to improve how people discover events around the nation. You can tell by the scattered and diverse locations of our current nine schools. We want to cover a lot of places throughout the country,” Grotticelli said.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.