Hayle is set to be released this year. Photo: Courtesy of David Qiu.
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Hayle seeks to help students connect with like-minded individuals

A new app called Hayle, developed by former University of Ottawa psychology student David Qiu, can now help students discover and build relationships in their community in a unique way.

It all started when Qiu was 16, after he and a group of 20 other high school students in Gatineau got together to work on a non profit to help alleviate homelessness.

However, their organization came to an end when everyone graduated and went on to pursue post-secondary education across the country.

Once at the U of O, Qiu found it difficult to find like-minded friends and struggled to rebuild his developing non profit organization.

“I had no use for mainstream social media apps because there was no way for me to find a specific partner near me amongst hundreds of online ‘friends,’” said Qiu.

After growing tired of having little to no options for networking with other students and youth near him, he founded the idea that would eventually become Hayle.

Hayle, which is being developed for Android and iOS, will enable users to create a profile by adding their interests, and thus find like-minded individuals, join discussions, attend events, and discover different opportunities in their own city.  

Now that Hayle is in the works, Qiu has left university to pursue the development of the app full-time. Last year, Qiu expanded his team to include 11 members, most of whom are students at the U of O, Carleton University, and Algonquin College.

“We spend most of our time and resources in designing, developing, and testing in order to perfect the app and introduce it to North Americans in 2018,” Qiu explained.

“We’ve found that people like to stay in their comfort zone and, making it harder to find people with similar interests,” said Qiu. “Many of us find it uncomfortable approaching strangers randomly and it isn’t very effective. In the world we live in today, it’s difficult to find friends that really understand you.”

He admits to some challenges, which largely have to do with exposure. Qiu notes that the more exposure they can get, the more successful their crowdfunding attempts will be, and that most of the staff with the exception of their software developer are volunteers, until they can generate more consistent profits.

“Our app finds individuals beyond age and gender,” Qiu shared. “It’s all about the mutual interests. The friends you make can last a lifetime, because it won’t just be any acquaintance you meet from school or work, It’s someone you can really bond with.”

Qiu hopes that the app will especially help students who may be struggling to make connections as he was when he started university. He hopes to see Hayle ease transitions for students, whether that be finding new friends, new clubs, or communities.

According to Qiu, “Hayle would be an ideal app to make this process easier and would allow users to have a more comfortable and enjoyable school experience.”

“Think of Hayle as a clean slate, meet new people and talk to people who will message you back. We believe that the fundamental problem lies in the lack of focus on long-lasting relationships.”