Social app-maker harnesses Pennsylvania college students as beta testers
Email is yesterday, Facebook is clunky and GroupMe caps membership in groups.
So, what's a student looking for a cutting-edge communication platform to do?
If Matt Murphy has his way, college students — there were 21 million nationwide last year — will turn to QUAD, a new smartphone app.
The Silicon Valley entrepreneur is counting on student beta testers at the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State and 48 other universities to sell students on QUAD, a free app that combines social networking and instant messaging to put groups of as many as 200 students in communication in real time.
The founder of Appsurdity Inc. knows every new app has heavy competition in the post-PC era.
“There are over 800 million apps in the market today. How do you build an app that gets on the phone and is used every single day?” Murphy said.
In a bid to make a dent in the market, which experts estimate will top $25 billion this year, Murphy hired 100 students as QUAD ambassadors to proselytize for QUAD. They've tapped into sorority rushes, classroom work groups and even Penn State's storied THON dance marathon.
Pitt junior Parthena Moisiadis, said QUAD was an easy sale among her classmates and sorority sisters.
Moisiadis, 20, a writing communications major from West Chester, signed on as a Quad ambassador about two weeks ago, eager to learn more about marketing.
She competed with other ambassadors to see who could “convert” the most users to the new app.
“It's exciting getting to set a trend,” she said.
Moisiadis said the 40 students in her organizational communications class happily signed on for group discussions. Networks are closed, and members don't have to sort through email or provide personal information.
“It's easy and allows for more interactions,” Moisiadis said.
Lauren Christiansen, a Penn State senior from Delaware majoring in Spanish and international politics, worked at Appsurdity last summer. She is one of three QUAD ambassadors in State College.
She said State College is poised to become one of the new app's major hot spots now that Appsurdity is sponsoring a contest around THON.
THON, a yearlong fundraising effort by 15,000 Penn State students, is the nation's largest student-run philanthropy. Students compete all year to raise money for pediatric cancer treatment and research in a campaign that culminates in a 46-hour dance marathon in February.
Appsurdity is offering three top prizes of $5,000, $3,000 and $1,000 to add to THON fundraising totals for students who rack up the most points for QUAD use.
Murphy said the app will remain free and said he has no plans to sell advertising. Rather, he's counting on micropayments from “enhancements” such as packages of custom emjoi, the popular online characters used to emphasize emotion.
“In mid-November, we'll have an app with a lot of changes,” Murphy said. “We've had amazing feedback.”
Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pittsburgh attorney cites Pa. AG’s suspension in dismissal attempt
- Pittsburgh City Council advances $1M study of buildings
- Friends, family gather to remember 11-year-old shot dead in Mt. Oliver
- Bill aims to revamp water, sewer board in Pittsburgh
- Newsmaker: Melody Mendoza
- Ex-recreation director settles age discrimination lawsuit against Pittsburgh
- Pittsburgh region’s philanthropic sector at top of nation’s pack
- Council votes to ban tobacco use in Pittsburgh parks
- ‘Ambitious goal’ set for reducing HIV infections in Allegheny County
- Merged United Way to reveal 5-year plan aimed at Western Pa. children
- 7 percent in Allegheny County allowed to carry concealed gun