New Calgary-based social media platform Ivy aims to connect students and campuses
By Daniel Gonzalez, Contributor
Social media platforms are popular among post-secondary students that wish to learn more about their universities and the opportunities at their disposal. But Ivy — and its co-founder, Paul Dan — plans to streamline the social media experience for university students to get the most out of their post-secondary experience.
Ivy is a new platform that will allow students to get the most out of their time at university by connecting users with one another and giving them the advantage of exploring different offerings at their campus.
“So, some students want to increase their social life, some students want to increase their academic [lives] and some students want to get better in their professional lives,” says Dan.
He continues that Ivy hopes to “make it as easy as possible for students to take advantage of these opportunities” by developing an app that serves as a way to access all the “relevant aspects of campus life.”
Development on the platform started in 2017 as a project by University of Calgary students Nicholas Hill and Robert Fiker.
“They started off Ivy as something different … It was more of a passion project in 2017. They were just looking for something to do,” says Dan.
Soon after, Dan was introduced to the project as a web developer and would later become CEO.
“They [Hill and Fiker] met me at a hackathon,” he says.“I knew Robert from computer science classes, and they managed to persuade me to join the team.”
Work on the project continued into 2019, with Dan developing most of Ivy’s iOS app for Apple devices. “Through that time, I pushed a lot of my views and how I like to run things, and how I think we should be doing as a company.”
By the end of that year, the company had a “very serious pivot,” says Dan. “We kind of looked at ourselves and were thinking, ‘We have this app that somewhat worked.’ We released a little beta version, and people were using it.”
One feature that is popular among the users is the Explore feature, which allows students to see what’s happening on campus.
“All these students are taking advantage of opportunities they might not have known of,” says Dan.
Another feature that was removed following the beta version — with plans to implement it once again in future versions — is the Quad. It serves “as a virtual hallway,” says Dan, where users can communicate with one another to plan events and chat.
After the official launch of Ivy, the app was downloaded 550 times and received around 100 daily active users between January and March of 2020.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has moved classes away from campuses in Calgary, it has not affected Ivy, which has recently launched version two of their app. While learning continues online, Ivy plans to help students who feel disconnected from their post-secondary community.
“We’re doing our best to try to keep them as connected as we can to the campus, given that they actually can’t even be on campus,” says Dan.
After its beginnings at the University of Calgary, Ivy has since launched at Mount Royal University, where it will “improve the way [students] find resources and opportunities,” says Dan.
As development for Ivy continues, the company hopes that it will be present on every university campus around the world. But for now, they hope to connect students with one another on a local level.
“We want to make sure we do that right before we do something else,” says Dan. “So, we’re just taking it one step at a time. We’re making sure we’re still here, we’re present, we’re still going on and then we’ll see where we get in the long run.”
Ivy is available for free download on the App Store and Google Play.