Startups
Apps / Entrepreneurs / Philadelphia Neighborhoods / Social media / Startups

Why these app founders took a break from Penn to focus on ‘Down to Chill’

The app aims to make hanging out with friends easier. Its founders say the decision to take a year off from school was an easy one.

Four University of Pennsylvania students took the year off to promote their mobile app. Michael Powell, Matt Wojcieszek, Adam Elkassas and Arjun Raj Jain all have taken the year off to launch Down to Chill.

“Down to Chill, simply put, is a way to see when your friends are free and a way to choose which friends you want to hang out without having to text them first,” said Powell, 20, the company’s COO.

Users can connect the app to their Facebook account and then set a time when they’re “down to chill.” Users are matched up based on proximity, availability and their use of hashtags (such as #lunch or #drinking). Currently, Down to Chill has around 2,000 users, Powell said.

Powell walked us through how the app works:

The company has three engineers and three Wharton students (two of them with dual degrees in engineering and business). They all agreed that the decision to leave Penn for a year wasn’t difficult.

“It was an easy decision for me because I have always wanted to do my own thing,” said Elkassas, 20, cofounder and programmer. “I felt that school was holding me back with the heavy time devotion that classes required.”

Powell agreed that by placing Down to Chill on the backburner while in school would not benefit either the application or his education.

“We can’t half-ass two things and get okay results out of both,” said Powell. “Not do great in school because we are doing a startup and not do our startup all the way because we are still in school, so we should really focus on one. We may as well take a year off and see what we can do with it.”

It may have been a lesson Elkassas and Jain learned with their previous startup, StudyUp (née Noteriety).

The either/or sentiment is one shared by fellow Penn student Ashwin Muthiah, who took a year off to pursue his art marketplace Easely. Still, it’s not the norm: most of the Philly student entrepreneurs we’ve seen have stayed in school, with Firefly cofounder Dan Shipper as perhaps the most notable. Shipper staying in school was a point of pride for First Round Capital’s Josh Kopelman, who himself launched a startup while at Penn, finished his degree and later took the company — Infonautics — public. (First Round Capital’s Dorm Room Fund was a Firefly investor. The company was acquired this summer.)

Supporting college entrepreneurs will be a major focus of an upcoming Start.Stay.Grow. event hosted at the city’s new Innovation Lab.

Learn more

The Down to Chill team plans to spend the year promoting the app to clubs, teams, fraternities and sororities on Penn’s campus. Eventually, they say they want to branch away from Penn and go to other colleges, music festivals and other cities.

A few weeks ago, Down to Chill launched an online campaign with all the founders starring in a YouTube video.

http://youtu.be/PPea80afavs

“In reality, we have to start spreading to the people who don’t know us as Matt, Michael, Arjun or Adam, but know us as Down to Chill,” said Powell. “We need to spread as a company and not as an individual. We are aiming towards that corporate infrastructure that will allow us to spread.”

Before you go...

Please consider supporting Technical.ly to keep our independent journalism strong. Unlike most business-focused media outlets, we don’t have a paywall. Instead, we count on your personal and organizational support.

3 ways to support our work:
  • Contribute to the Journalism Fund. Charitable giving ensures our information remains free and accessible for residents to discover workforce programs and entrepreneurship pathways. This includes philanthropic grants and individual tax-deductible donations from readers like you.
  • Use our Preferred Partners. Our directory of vetted providers offers high-quality recommendations for services our readers need, and each referral supports our journalism.
  • Use our services. If you need entrepreneurs and tech leaders to buy your services, are seeking technologists to hire or want more professionals to know about your ecosystem, Technical.ly has the biggest and most engaged audience in the mid-Atlantic. We help companies tell their stories and answer big questions to meet and serve our community.
The journalism fund Preferred partners Our services
Engagement

Join our growing Slack community

Join 5,000 tech professionals and entrepreneurs in our community Slack today!

Trending

Philly startup Burro aims to revolutionize farming with robots

How to encourage more healthcare entrepreneurship (and why that matters)

Wagtail’s Philly event reaches beyond its software, aiming to bring together Python enthusiasts

Find out what type of heat wave you’re really in for with NOAA’s HeatRisk dashboard

Technically Media