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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

ND alum launches social media app

A Notre Dame alumnus is trying to transform social media by introducing forward-oriented timelines that enable users to connect with other users based on their future locations and travel plans.

Andrew McGill, a 2007 graduate, is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Flypside. The smartphone application allows users to create a new form of a post, called a Flyp, which communicates where a user will be in the future, how long his or her trip will be and what he or she is interested in doing while there. After creating a Flyp, McGill said, users can view and connect with friends, friends of friends and others with similar interests who will be at the same location at the same time. They can also find events, promotions and activities that will be occurring while they are at a specified destination.

Social media graphic
Susan Zhu
Susan Zhu

“We wanted to create a platform for people in motion to connect with each other ahead of time and find cool events that match the user's interests,” McGill said. “Flypside is the ultimate social planning tool, as it relates specifically to your future.”

McGill said the application also transforms the nature of a tag and hashtag in social media by enabling users to now communicate future identity, interests or intent.

“You can assign a #hostelname to a Flyp, then select it to see who is staying at your hostel. If you plan to go surfing while on spring break, add #surfing to your Flyp to view other people interested in surfing who are also there,” he said. “You can even enter and then select ‘University of Notre Dame’ from your profile to see if there are other Notre Dame students crossing your path on spring break or during your summer travels. The [uses] are endless.”

McGill said he was inspired to create Flypside through his international travels. After seven years as a gasoline trader at BP, McGill completed an around-the-world tour that included South America, Australia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean.

“This made me notice two main points related to being in motion: the ‘who’ and the ‘what,’” he said.

The ‘who’ can range from meeting up with close friends or acquaintances, to strangers who share similar interests, McGill said, while the ‘what’ is the events, promotions and activities taking place at a certain location.

“Like Yelp filters restaurants based on a user’s interests, we want to sort and publicize people, events and promotions related to each of our user’s future location based calendars,” he said.

While Flypside’s versatility and practicality make it useful for a very broad audience, McGill said the initial target demographic is the Millennial generation, particularly college students and frequent travelers.

“When I was at Notre Dame, I studied abroad in London and thus know how beneficial Flypside will be for college students who are traveling,” he said.

McGill said privacy, a concern for most big social media and tech company's today, is one of the company's key priorities.

“Flypside is making sure to create privacy barriers that users can easily control,” he said. “In order to prevent harassment, users cannot send more than one introductory message to other users, which is similar to a Facebook friend request accompanied by an introductory text.”

McGill said Flypside is still in its early launch stages, but has already released an application for iPhone and Android platforms. In order to make Flypside a successful company, McGill said he has worked carefully to create a great team around him, including both employees and advisors.

“Good team members must, one, believe in the idea, two, believe in you and three, have the skills and resources to help,” McGill said.

Aiming to boost growth, McGill said, the Flypside team is now putting their collective efforts into user acquisition and the creation of strategic partnerships.

“Friends and mentors can sometimes get you in the door, but after that you really have to sell and prove yourself,” he said.

Additionally, McGill said the Notre Dame community has been supportive and helpful, especially as the University looks to bolster its presence in Silicon Valley through the California Initiative.

Mike Ferrigno, president of Notre Dame’s MBA Entrepreneurship Club, said Flypside is an excellent example of how Notre Dame is fostering entrepreneurship.

“I am excited to see more Notre Dame startups developing as Notre Dame increases their presence in Silicon Valley,” Ferringno said. “Andrew's passion for getting the Notre Dame community involved with Flypside is very encouraging for the program.”

Flypside represents an exciting opportunity for college students to connect with a new form of social media, McGill said, and he hopes the Notre Dame community will take advantage of it.