A new social media app aims to bridge the gap between online and offline social interactions.
The Bevii mobile application uses locational technologies to track the social life of its users and construct virtual social networks. It launched Monday and is now available exclusively for students at Duke, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University through iOS and Android platforms.
“The idea came from being a social media user and being frustrated with the current options out there,” said Bevii founder Taylor Robinette, a sophomore at UNC.
Networking sites such as Facebook create a secondary social sphere that separates social media from actual social life. Bevii connects the two worlds by including face-to-face and online social interaction. Robinette said.
The Bevii app detects its users in close proximity and automatically adds them to each other’s base network. From there, Bevii organizes friendship into five levels—with one being close friends and five being the base level where people can only see each other’s names and profile pictures. These levels constantly adjust to correspond to the amount of interaction between individuals.
Users have the option of moving their contacts along the scale without affecting where they are placed on that contact’s relationship list, Robinette said.
“There is a significant amount of ‘Facebook fatigue’ out there, particularly on-campus, and I believe the window has cracked open for a new and relevant social media solution,” wrote Jim Kitchen, a lecturer in entrepreneurship at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and an investor in Bevii, in an email Sunday.
As of Sunday, Bevii had received $300,000 of funding from investors. Robinette said the start-up aims to raise another 10 to 15 million dollars of venture capital by the first quarter of 2014.
“The idea behind the Bevii app makes sense to me, but more importantly, I am investing in it because I am confident that Taylor is going to be successful,” said Merrill Mason, an investor and lawyer for Bevii. “It’s like what people say—you bet on the jockey and not the horse.”
In his first year of high school, Robinette started a site called LifeClickz that obtained 250,000 members before it was eventually shut down.
Although Bevii plans to expand nationally, Robinette said the headquarters will remain local.
“Being able to do this outside of Silicon Valley is an important message here,” said Tim Huntley, entrepreneur in residence at Triangle StartUp Factory and an investor in Bevii. “There seems to be this perception that there is no money here in the Triangle and I just don’t think that’s how it should be.”
After its initial launch, Bevii will become accessible to students at other U.S. colleges through invitations and contracts with schools. Membership will be limited to college students in the near future, Robinette said.
“Facebook is now too cluttered, and we want our own social network again,” he said.