The Problem + The Insight

There's been a huge spike in social media usage since the pandemic. But loneliness is more pervasive than ever, making an existing loneliness crisis even worse.

We're more connected than ever before, but that doesn't mean we're really connecting.

Close connections don't just make life better — they have a serious impact on how long you'll live. But we get so fixated on the technology (messaging apps, video platforms, voice-only social networks) that we forget they're just tools — not the solution.

The research is clear: the solution isn't more, better, newer technology. The solution is finding a way to consistently spend quality time with the people we care about.

Our Solution

Our idea is to create a simple, SMS-based reminder that helps you really connect with someone you care about. Not by tagging, texting, or impersonal group video chats — but by spending time together in real ways, one-on-one.

Hey You is about quality face-to-FaceTime
Pick one person. We remind you to talk once a month — even when quarantine ends.
Do it if you can, don’t sweat it if you can’t.
But to keep you on track, every time you skip a call you’ll donate to combat COVID-related isolation.

Deepen your friendship, do some good. It’s a win/win proposition that can have a huge impact at scale.

One call, once a month can have an outsized benefit on your health.
And with a sizable user base, those $1 donations can make a real difference for our charitable partner — at no cost to them.

Potential partners working to combat loneliness during COVID:

Who It Serves

Hey You is for everyone — and that drove a lot of our design decisions. We wanted this to be simple and accessible, no matter how tech-savvy you are.

That's why it's SMS-based; we didn't want you to have to download or setup an app. It's also why we took advantage of Apple's little-known Facetime:// link, so people can get to chatting with a single click using native software. Similarly, that's why we use PayPal.Me for donations, since 89% of the US market has an account.

If you can text, you can use Hey You.

Meet The Team

  • David & JohanFriends and coworkers at a small ad agency with an idea and the good fortune to find people as talented as Jennifer + Ben. They're excited to use what they've learned doing creative work for brands like Facebook, Google, Delta, Dos Equis, and Nike to launch Hey You into the world.

  • JenniferThe first volunteer to join Hey You and the point-person running database development + liaising with our freelancer. She's an incoming freshman at Columbia who has already done a stint interning for Microsoft.

  • KrishnaThe unsung freelancer and Twilio vet who has been cranking to flesh out our chatbot's skeleton, allowing the team to stick to our ambitious timeline.

  • BenThe final piece of our puzzle: a frontend specialist with valuable fullstack experience. The fact he also knows Twiilio and is a hackathon veteran makes him a triple threat — and exactly what we needed to button everything up.

Post-Hackathon Vision + Challenges

Our team is committed to continuing the project and aiming to ship a production-ready version in August.

Fortunately the core team works together at a small creative agency and has access to design resources as we refine the user experience.

Our biggest challenge is a lack of technical resources — currently we're relying on two part-time volunteers, and an Upwork freelancer (who is building out the Twilio chatbot). To overcome that, we either need to find a volunteer with PHP (and ideally Twilio) experience, or find a way to pay the Upwork freelancer through the end of the project.

Next Steps

Frontend: 80% complete

  • Refine animations
  • Adding a PR section
  • Building modals for the FAQ
  • General debugging

Database: 70% complete

  • Creating the logic to trigger reminders
  • Linking to chatbot via API
  • General debugging

Chatbot: 60% complete

  • Revisions to copy
  • Adding in GIFs to make the experience more engaging
  • Making the data-entry options more robust (i.e. recognizing different phone # formats, etc.)
  • Adding 'share contact' ability
  • Automatically generating .ICS calendar invites

Branding: 50% complete

  • Developing logo
  • Choosing brand colors + fonts

Marketing + PR Strategy: 20% complete

  • Outreach to relevant charitable partners
  • Developing press resources
  • Creating target list + pitching press outlets
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