Lebanese Wharton Students Create a New Way to Connect with Friends

by Souhail Khoury, December 23, 2011

Ever wonder where the biggest on campus party is happening, or what is the hottest spot your friends are going to? If you are a person who likes social gatherings and meeting up with friends and even friends of friends then Oneaway might be the perfect app for you.

So What is Oneaway?

Oneaway is a mobile application that notifies the user about the connections he has with the people around and allows him to interact with them in real time.

Oneaway was founded by Nadim Gharios and Anis Harb; two MBA Students at the Wharton Business School who considered dropping out of school before visa issues incited them to complete their degree. They were joined by Ibrahim Cotran, a Master’s student in Computer Science from Stanford University. The three founders’ mixed backgrounds and abilities allows them to run Oneaway efficiently and keep adding new features to the application.

 

The idea behind Oneaway came from the founders’ idea to leverage communities to facilitate new connections and relationships, and to make it easier to connect with your friends in your current networks.

Features:

Oneaway has three main features:

  1. Nearby Scan: This tells you which of your connections (Friends, Friends of Friends, People in your Facebook networks) are within a two blocks radius. Because those people are nearby, their full profile is displayed as well as the common connector and there is an option to start a chat option with them.


     
  2. The Heat Map: The Heat Map scans the whole city and shows you statistics about the locations where people from your networks are hanging out. No names are displayed, to protect the privacy of the users but this gives a good idea of happenings around your city and which places are popular.


     
  3. Activities (Under development):  This feature allows you to scan the area and plan instant activities with people nearby (for example, you can share a cab ride or have lunch). The procedure is simple: Scan, select people, choose activity and send notifications. People either reply by a simple “yes” or “no”. A “yes” sends you to a group chat where details can be planned for the activity. Activities intends to make Oneaway more practical for everyday use and allow people to collaborate more efficiently specially in restricted environments such as campus towns.

Oneaway was selected along with 14 other startups from an initial pool of 500 applicants to receive U.S. $20000 in seed capital from Dreamit Ventures. Now the founders are looking to raise a second round of funding to expand the product, while leveraging their connection to the Wharton Venture Initiation Program for mentorship.

Can It Succeed?

Studies have shown that a significant amount of new acquaintances are made through people you already know. This is what makes Oneaway a good concept, as it allows you to skip a step socially. Furthermore, the heat map allows users to spot the hottest and most active places in town, allowing them to carefully choose where to go out and enjoy their night out to the maximum.

With no direct competitors, Oneaway could be a hit especially in campus towns, conferences, and corporations, where the need to socialize and follow up on connections is high. However in order to be efficient, Oneaway must reach a threshold number of users, not just for its social network but also to generate revenue as it looks to implement location-based ads and group-buying-style localized deals.

Personally, I am looking forward to using Oneaway, since I am beginning an MBA at INSEAD next month in a small town near Paris. The application could be of great help, since being in constant contact with my study group on campus through Oneaway chat is faster than calling or waiting for email, and also makes it easier to locate the hottest parties and gatherings. So to make it truly effective, I hope Oneaway can reach the largest possible crowd. 

You can check out the app on oneaway.me, and download their app for iPhone and Android.

 
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