Get Ready to Get UNIMASHed: The Innovative App Bringing College Students Together
Often individuals have brilliant ideas and dreams that they never end up pursuing because they lack the courage, luster, or bravery to do so. However, the same cannot be said for two notable YU students, Elie Lefkowitz and Maor Shoshana. In January of last year, these two aspiring entrepreneurs made the decision to turn their dreams into a reality and began to create a phone app that would forever change the way in which college students across the country interact with one another.
Lefkowitz, a junior majoring in math, and Shoshana, an accounting major, are both juniors at YU, originally from Miami Beach, FL, and graduates of the Hebrew Academy. The longtime friends knew they wanted to create an app for quite some time and finally decided that the opportune time had arrived. In broad terms, the app is created for college students to meet one another virtually in a relaxed and low-pressured environment. According to Lefkowitz, the idea for the app came from his first-hand experiences observing the difficulty for male and female college students to connect with one another. He pointed out that “often college students are too shy or nervous to interact with the opposite sex, so we came up with an alternative way for them to communicate and meet.” Although this app may be considered ideal for students at Yeshiva University where the male and female campuses are miles apart, the app will improve the social lives of college students across the country.
Only college students are allowed to register for the app, and to ensure that other individuals do not join, one must produce a .edu email address. After providing such information, students can choose to sign in through their Facebook accounts or not. When creating a profile, the app gives students the opportunity to enter their college, year of college, major, gender, expected year of graduation, and an in-depth description of themselves. The app allows for students to filter who they meet based on gender, year of college, and other colleges in their state. After all of the aforementioned information is entered, the app compiles a list of other profiles which match the entered specifications. Students can flip through their matches and give them a thumbs up or down based on their pictures and other information provided. If both students give each other a thumbs up then they “mashed” and can message one another. There are currently 185 UNIMASH ambassadors on 40 college campuses in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and many other major cities to promote the app.
For Lefkowitz and Shoshana, the app creation process has been long and tedious, but above all, a rewarding experience. They explained that the most difficult aspect of creating the app has been time management with all of their other school work. Moreover, finding the right development team for their app was quite difficult, and it took a lot of trial and error to weed out the ones that would not work for them. The development team they ended up with has been “super professional and exceptionally helpful.” Above all, however, a supportive family has been the most essential key to success. Throughout the entire process, Shoshana and Lefkowitz’s families have been nothing but encouraging and cooperative, and it has made all the difference. The two boys have been friends since they were young and creating an app together has only strengthened their relationship. Although there have been arguments and disagreements, the two truly balance and compliment one another’s strengths and weaknesses.
Lefkowitz and Shoshana explained that “it has been really cool being treated like adults by other people in the industry. Realizing that you are not a kid anymore is a pretty surreal experience.” They have had to hire personnel, negotiate contracts, and so much more; it has taught them everything they did not learn in the classroom. Moreover, they described that their app is going to be the next big thing because “there is a huge demand for other outlets for students to make friends with students on different campuses, and there is nothing else quite like that on the market.” Lefkowitz said that he was actually in contact with Mark Cuban, from Shark Tank, in regards to his app. Although nothing materialized, there is still potential for conversation in the future.
The release date for the app is sometime in early March, and Lefkowitz and Shoshana cannot be more excited. They plan on having a huge celebration to honor their massive accomplishment. Their advice to other students looking to create an app is to “get out of your dorm room, do not be afraid, come up with a plan, and just do it.” To the entire YU community: Download. Do not be afraid to get UNIMASHed.