Student friendship app created by Barnoldswick woman after struggling with loneliness at university set to go global
A Barlick woman’s friendship app that combats student isolation and loneliness is set for international expansion.
Georgia Wheadon founded Umii (pronounced “U Me”) to help students make friends in the post-Covid real world and encourage Gen-Z to abandon constant social media scrolling.
The company has already raised £1.3m. and will represent TiE UK North at the TiE Global Awards in Hyderabad this month.
Finalist Georgia will pitch Umii’s business concept to hundreds of global investors.
The 26-year-old said: “To be in the final is really exciting, as it’s a great chance to be in front of global investors.
“I started Umii because my experience at university wasn’t great. I missed out on a really big part of my life and I don’t want others to experience isolation, loneliness or to feel marginalised.
“When I started Umii and was talking to people about the concept, not everyone would say they had a great university experience.
“They would say that they didn’t really want to talk about how they didn’t enjoy it while feeling that there was a stigma around it.
“Then Covid happened and social anxieties became even more prominent.
“When we speak to university staff now they tell us about the difference between pre-Covid and post-Covid. How there are massive numbers of students who feel marginalised and isolated because they don’t want to do in-person stuff.
“We know it’s a common problem for people, especially in students’ first year of university.
“It’s Umii’s mission to make sure no one feels isolated and lonely. But it's not about making everything digital. It's about giving solutions to students and making the experience socially comfortable for them.
“If you look at Gen-Z, they are doing almost everything online. We thought, ‘why not do this with friendship-making’.
"We want to make it as easy as possible for them to make that initial introduction and then go into the real world.
“It's amazing when we hear stories from students who use Umii. They talk of the confidence it gives them to get out there in the world. I know how bad my experience was, and how it can be so horrible if you’re sitting in your room on your own watching My Mad Fat Diary.”
The Umii app is free to students.