Bristol alumni launch friend-finder app to help tackle loneliness

Two University of Bristol alumni have launched a friend-finding app called fethr. The app, which aims to tackle loneliness, links up like-minded individuals by analysing their personality, values, interests, and friendship preferences.

Bristol Geography graduate, Julian Issa (MSci 2014), former Maths and Philosophy student, Miguel Bravo (BSc 2013) and their flatmate, Gerardo Rodriguez, came up with the idea for fethr during the first UK lockdown. The trio were discussing loneliness and realised that they had felt isolated long before the pandemic struck.

As a business analyst, Julian had lived in 10 cities in just two years, which made it difficult to form friendships. After carrying out further research, he discovered that 45% of adults in England felt lonely at least some of the time.

“Meaningful human connection shouldn’t be such a difficult thing to find in the 21st century and that is why we started fethr,” said Julian.

“There is nothing more exciting than being sat in a hostel and chatting to people from across the world. However, it’s difficult to recreate that in your normal life. When I was moving to new cities with my old job, I found it difficult to build a community of friends quickly.”

Co-creator Miguel used his Maths background to craft a sophisticated algorithm that uses artificial intelligence to match strangers together – no swiping required. The app also draws on research from psychologist Dr Kelly Campbell, one of fethr’s advisors.

In groups of four to six they can then choose to do anything from drinks and dinner to yoga and gallery-hopping.

After their meet-up, attendees anonymously feed back on who they clicked with. If both parties liked one another, the app puts them in contact to continue their friendship.

After a successful trial in Sydney, the app is now in the final stages of development.

It launches in London on August 17 and will be rolled out to other UK cities, including Bristol, by the end of the year.

Miguel said: “Bristol gave me the platform to meet many amazing people from different backgrounds to my own, who have been hugely influential in my life and career path – not least my good friend and co-founder Julian Issa.”

Julian added: “Fethr is going to disrupt the way people socialise. Traditional avenues for making friends continue to be squeezed by the pandemic, working from home and increased digitisation.

“Now more than ever before, people want it to be easier to make meaningful connections, whether short-term or long-term.”

Sign up for early access to the app at www.fethr.app

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