UNightlife eases students’ dull night dilemmas

By Saher Khan

Tim Olp’s and his friends’ Saturday night was disappointing. They went from having too many options to none at all and ended up doing nothing.

The U Nightlife app is something Olp, sophomore in Engineering, said he could have used to help turn his night around.

As an app designed to enhance the college student’s nightlife experience by relying on user-based material, it is, in a sense, a collaborative tool. The University Nightlife app informs students about what is going on campus after hours and was designed with the intention to prevent situations like Olp’s where students get stuck having nothing to do.

According to Jay Shah, University of Illinois representative of the application, “nightlife” pertains to a wide variety of things college students would want to do on their night out. A “night out” can be anything from having a party in a dorm to ordering pizza or going to the movies.  

“We decided we wanted to create something to bring people together and change something at a university level,” said Shah, sophomore in LAS.

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    Nathan Groticelli, sophomore at Binghamton University in New York, created the application. Groticelli came up with the idea after spending many nights of his freshman year with his friends, not knowing what to do and wishing there was a way to find out his options.

    Groticelli and his cofounder Justin Hill spread the word about their idea and gathered a team of software developers and graphic designers to create the application. He then went through the process of getting it approved for the Apple App Store. The app has been available on the app store since early 2013.

    “We enjoy working on this so much because we’re doing something that’s changing how people the same exact age and grade as us are doing something, like going out. So in a sense we’re creating something for ourselves,” Groticelli said.

    Shah and Groticelli worked together at Spotify. When Shah heard about Groticelli’s business venture, he wanted to get involved. The app currently serves 11 different colleges, with their own respective representative. Each representative helps provide feedback through conversations with friends and other students to help figure out what users want.

    University Nightlife depends heavily on its trending hashtag, #UNightlife. If anyone has problems, criticism, critiques or even a compliment, they can tweet it with that hashtag to bring in feedback to the U Nightlife team. On top of the hashtags, they use interviews, surveys and data from the app to learn more about what the users want.

    “We’re really just trying to create something that helps students make their night out a little easier,” Groticelli said, “Everyone hates when they’re starving at 2:30 a.m. and no one is around and their dining hall is closed. If we could possibly help relieve some of that frustration and make someone’s night better, (those) would be the positives from this.”

    Currently, the app has one investor, but Groticelli and Shah are less focused on the money aspect and more focused on how to improve the product. Their next task is to add an events feature to the app, which will list the events occurring on campuses on a nightly basis. The process in which events and event details will be posted has not yet been determined.

    “It would be nice to have something to help lay out your options for the night,” Olp said.

    Shah pointed out that the app is a great way to get students to check out things they normally would not.

    “If a whole student body can come together and someone knew that there was going to be an awesome organization hosting a concert, they could post it to the app so that way people who did not know about it would get a chance to check it out,” Shah said. 

    U Nightlife is available for free download on the Apple App Store and on the Google Play Store for the Android.

    Saher can be reached at [email protected].