Flox, an app to assist buddy teams meet one another, is wooing faculty college students in NYC – TechCrunch

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There’s nothing just like the rising pains of recent maturity, however for college-aged Gen Zers who’ve spent these childhood in lockdown, it may be much more tough to kind significant friendships. Whereas attending Columbia College remotely throughout the pandemic, first-generation faculty pupil Jamie Lee realized how this isolation was affecting her friends, particularly those that would journey to high school for his or her sophomore or junior years with out having met any classmates in particular person but.
“Since I had first downloaded Instagram in center college, I’ve at all times simply been presenting myself on-line as a person, however I felt like I used to be having a number of anxiousness about not presenting myself authentically on-line,” Lee advised TechCrunch. “I needed to lean into that concept of, okay, how can we discover a option to join individuals authentically? And I assumed the easiest way to do this can be with our buddies, who we’re most genuine round.”
In summer season 2020, Lee launched a no-code beta check for Flox, an concept for an app that might assist individuals meet. It’s like Tinder, Hinge or Bumble, the place you create a profile and match with others, solely you’re signing up as a gaggle and connecting with different teams of buddies.
“Folks gave me suggestions that it was essentially the most enjoyable they’d had on-line in without end, in order that was my turning level the place I used to be like, this might be one thing tremendous critical, and I knew that it was now or by no means,” Lee mentioned.
So, she dropped out of Columbia with only a 12 months left of college to cost full-speed forward on the app.
Picture Credit: Flox
In February 2021, Lee and two full-time engineers — the extent of her staff — performed an alpha check with round 250 customers, which then developed into a personal beta check solely in New York Metropolis for undergrads and up to date graduates. By now, their waitlist has over 20,000 customers, however Lee says within the subsequent month or so, Flox will start opening as much as college-aged New Yorkers on the waitlist earlier than increasing to different cities afterward. Plus, Flox simply closed a $1.2 million funding spherical led by Honeycomb Asset Administration, with BBG Ventures and Banana Capital collaborating.
“I’m not gonna lie, elevating my first spherical was extremely tough. I’m Puerto Rican and Chinese language, I used to be 21 on the time, I by no means had any background on this, and I had identical to, dropped out of Columbia,” Lee mentioned. “Going into these conversations, I feel individuals positively had opinions shaped about me earlier than the dialog started. I used to be advised in a pitch assembly to be extra like Zuck.”
As a founder creating a platform for individuals in her personal age group, Lee is wise about how she markets the app — she desires to make it really feel genuine. So, she’s met her viewers the place they’re on TikTok, posting promotional movies concerning the app which have gone viral, garnering about 1.8 million views over three posts.
“You may’t even go to the toilet alone,” Lee says in a single TikTok. “So why are you on these relationship apps alone?”

Flox isn’t the primary app to strive group-based social networking — Tinder had this concept with Tinder Social, a function that allow you to be a part of teams with your pals and match with different teams. However the function was discontinued slightly over a 12 months after a rocky launch in 2016, when it by accident revealed who in your contacts had a Tinder profile. Lee mentioned that she thinks Tinder Social didn’t work as a result of Tinder had already branded itself as a relationship (or hookup) app — and because you solely had one profile, you’d be displaying the identical model of your self to potential buddies and potential dates.
“We wish to transfer away from the give attention to the person, as a result of I feel that factors to relationship,” Lee mentioned. “We wish to actually lean into the group identification, so that you would possibly see a flock known as ‘residence 11,’ and then you definately would see who makes up the group, slightly than, listed here are these people who kind the group. It’s reversing what’s emphasised.” Whereas the main target is on assembly new individuals, Lee hopes that buddies who make a Flox group (a Flock) collectively will likely be introduced nearer too.
Although Bumble began as a relationship app too, it additionally now has modes for making buddies and discovering enterprise companions. Lee cites Bumble BFF as an inspiration for Flox, however she mentioned that when she used the app, it appeared like most individuals mentioned they had been searching for roommates, slightly than seeking to make new buddies.
Picture Credit: Flox
“Gen Z is essentially the most lonely, anxious, depressed technology, and there’s so many individuals who want buddies,” mentioned Lee. “However there’s a social stigma that [using one-on-one friendship apps] carries with it. Sadly, oftentimes, whenever you’re searching for buddies one-on-one, what that suggests to the opposite particular person, or to anybody who would possibly know that you simply’re on Bumble BFF, is that you simply don’t have any buddies, and that doesn’t actually put you in a fascinating place. So our objective with Flox can also be to make it far more comfy, protected and enjoyable, eradicating that social stigma behind buddy discovering.”
The app hinges on Lee’s speculation that individuals are most comfy assembly new individuals when their present buddies have their again. However the group dynamic provides a built-in layer of security. Although Flox isn’t a relationship app, Lee is aware of that some individuals are going to make use of it for that function — however assembly new individuals in teams might help mitigate the dangers inherent in assembly strangers one-on-one.
“I had a very unhealthy expertise on a relationship app once I was within the metropolis a few years in the past, and I bear in mind reporting the incident, and nothing was adopted up on, and I simply didn’t really feel protected on that platform,” Lee mentioned. “One of many first conversations I had with customers final 12 months was individuals mentioned, ‘I’m not comfy assembly up with different individuals on relationship apps, as a result of I really feel unsafe one-on-one.’ So we actually wish to give individuals this extra comfy, protected setting to fulfill individuals.”
With Flox’s latest seed spherical, Lee hopes to proceed constructing out the app and letting increasingly customers in — however she desires to take it gradual to ensure that the expertise stays constructive and genuine for present customers.