Artur Zvinchuk and Chahin Aghrim were not thinking about a pandemic when they developed Youpendo (a play on the word, upendo, which means “love” in Swahili), an app designed to harness the internet to spread acts of kindness between strangers around the world.
The COVID-19 pandemic, and the social distancing and isolation that has come with it, has made the concept even more compelling.
It works like this: When you open the app, it challenges you with a question such as “What are you most grateful for?” or “What brings you peace?” You answer the question with text, a picture or video, which it becomes a “paper plane” that is sent to a random user using the app’s algorithm.
On the receiving end, users can control when they receive paper planes. Need some inspiration or a little pick me up? With a click, you can receive a message.
The result, the creators say, are meaningful human connections created without direct contact with other people.
“We experience true human connection when we are authentic and imperfect,” Zvinchuk told Technical.ly. “Social media doesn’t really allow that. Youpendo encourages people to dig deep and share more vulnerable inspirations, moments and thoughts.”
The app, which was beta tested in February, will launch a bit earlier than planned due to COVID-19. The team has also grown from two to five since Youpendo received funding from a digital agency, making the April launch possible.
“It would be BS to say that we created the app to combat isolation due to the coronavirus,” said Zvinchuk, “but we saw that this is the time when people need human connection.”
The app that will launch next week is a bit different from the developing concept of Youpendo we covered 10 months ago. Then, there was a goal to evolve the concept into a crowdfunding app. The crowdfunding aspect has been dropped.
“The entire focus is on ‘paper planes’ that inspire,” said Aghrim.
The app, which will be available for Android and iOS, will be free with no ads — any revenue generation will be nonintrusive to the user experience, Zvinchuk said.
As the first version available to the public, the creators also see it as another test.
“We want people to try the app and give us their honest feedback,” said Zvinchuk.
To get an alert when Youpendo is launched, sign up for the waiting list.-30-
Buccini/Pollin Group is thriving through the pandemic — and the ‘Biden Effect’ doesn’t hurt
Tech raised the US Census response rate amid a pandemic. Here’s how it was done in Delaware
Take a look inside the newly opened CSC Station
Delaware internet speeds have decreased by 7.5% during COVID-19, study says
Sign-up for daily news updates from Technical.ly Delaware