We started SendAFriend with one thing in mind: to connect people and help build meaningful friendships. We first met each other at a business startup competition called EnactusHacks and instantly hit it off. When we did it this next year we decided we wanted to create something that would bring people together just like ourselves. Through the introduction and the workshop with Hugo Gatsby, he discussed how every morning he said something he is thankful and every night we would say something he achieved. A lot of students especially due to COVID-19 have been forced to quarantine, new students cannot make friends and being stuck at home with the inability to communicate and have experiences due to this drastic change decrease endorphins, motivation and self worth. So whether they make a longterm friend, receive a positive message telling them they can do it or even send a positive message. This will uplift their mood, day and hopefully have long positive effects on them.

What it does

Even the smallest compliment can brighten someone’s day. When you send a text through FindAFriend you’re not only making someone happy, you’re starting to form a potentially lifelong friendship. Don’t be afraid to take the first step and send a compliment. You never know, someone might really need it! There are two ways to use SendAFriend: without creating an account you can send a compliment to any number in our database. If you and your newly self-confident partner want to continue into conversation you can do so. When you create an account you can tell us your interests and we will pair you up with someone like minded. Once you find someone to talk to our job is done!

How we built it

Using past experiences as our guide, we decided to start with a strong foundation and vision of where to go. Therefore our first step was to create a prototype website using wix so we could easily visualize our idea. Though not perfect, it captures the vision and is a road map of what our actual website would look like with more time. Next a proof of concept was made with HTML, CSS and Javascript as our frontend and PHP as our backend database. This is to show what features we personal would change on the wix site as well demo the matching algorithm needed to make this work.

Challenges we ran into

We did not start this hackathon with FindAFriend in mind. However after many hours and ideas later, we all agreed that one of the worst and most common side effects from this pandemic was loneliness. A challenge we faced was finding a way to safely connect people from all over. In order to combat this we wanted to bring people together, giving them an outlet to make new friends. We were worried about people abusing our send a compliment feature however we mitigated this by including a list of profanities that if included, would block messages from being sent. Another challenge was our fear that this concept was too simple. However with creating algorithms and improving our website we found that sometimes simplicity is far more effective, especially when it comes to building meaningful relationships.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

As a team with little to no experience with coding, it was really hard to see the technical aspect side of it but thankfully from the help of wix, Wordpress and the internet we learned different programs and actually saw our vision come to light. We will need to create the fully effective and working sign in sheet but under 24 hours we were able to create a project that is motivational and that will hopefully inspire people. We are also proud of how we figured out how we will make it a feasible project because initially it was just meant for the positive message but by making it feasible, and creating events we can take our vision one step further

What we learned

We learned that having a solid identity is the most aspect of developing a new idea. With a clear vision, a lot of other ideas or improvements follow through. Simple is sometimes better is another lesson learned. Even being able to talk to someone you have never met can greatly improve your mood. We learned that in this complicated time, friendship is something we all need.

What's next for SendAFriend

What's next is the make a beta version of the website fully made by us and finish initial development. Then to cover initial capital, we run a crowdfunding campaign on something like Kickstarter. We would offer merchandise as donator rewards to encourage donations. We will then use the money earned to fund the rest of the development as well as advertising locally to get a user base started. Once a user base has been established then advertising or offering our service to school would be the next step. It would limit the range of the app to only the school so you could find a friend within the school as opposed to anywhere.

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