Students' App Named a Top "Boston Mobile Startup to Watch"

February 18, 2016
Olivia Joslin '18 and Hannah Wei '18, creators of CliqBit, look at a mobile device

Olivia Joslin '18 and Hannah Wei '18 recently launched CliqBit, a platform for sharing "the brief, and funny moments that make up our lives." The app has already been featured by USAToday and the technology and innovation news website BostonInno, with the latter declaring it one of five "Boston Mobile Startups to Watch."

Both Joslin and Wei are double majors, Joslin in computer science and environmental studies, and Wei in computer science and cinema and media studies. The pair met in their residence hall in their first week on campus. They developed the idea for the app after a comical slip and fall down an icy hill on campus.

"Hannah and I were on our icy campus in the middle of last winter and she slipped and fell down… I was trying to open my Snapchat to get a photo, but the app crashed and the moment was lost," Joslin said in an interview with the Daily Free Press, Boston University's student paper.

They told BostonInno that they wanted to create a place where users could celebrate the sillier escapades and moments in life, without the need to focus on the serious or the superficial—a "happy medium between platforms like Facebook and Instagram that promote permanence and a platform like Snapchat, where everything is temporary."

On CliqBit, posts can live as briefly as a few seconds, as long as days, or can be made permanent. The app also allows users to make their own memes or stop-motion videos, in addition to hosting the usual photograph or video posts. They also hope the app takes away some of the social pressure women feel while using social media.

Instead of the traditional "likes" that many other platforms use, CliqBit uses "cheers" that are only visible to the user who receives them. Wei said in an email that this was a feature they chose after reading surveys that indicated users, mainly women, felt high social pressures while using a lot of apps, such as Instagram. "There's such vanity and competition, and it really pins women up against each other," Joslin told BostInno. "It has definitely had a negative effect on women in our generation."

The platform currently has users from BU, Northeastern, MIT, Harvard, and Wellesley. But it's Wellesley, the pair said, that has been part of the story from the beginning and has given them much needed support. They used friends to beta-test the app and now have other Wellesley students on staff. Wei said she also turned to one of her professors, Brian Tjaden, Associate Professor of Computer Science. "[He] believed in me even before there was much to show and offered to be a supporter and mentor early on," she said.

Although they're just starting out, Joslin and Wei hope to inspire more young women to explore technology and entrepreneurship. "Wellesley has certainly given us the confidence to do so and I know that it will have the same effect for others."