Graduates' app will help young Aucklanders make new friends

June 3, 2022

Graduates' app will help young Aucklanders make new friends

Mohammed Bohra and Charizze Austin. Photo: Celia Whitley

Two AUT graduates are developing an app to help young Aucklanders make friends.

In a bid to connect young adults, Mohammed Bohra and Charizze Austin are building Chillsy - an app designed to connect strangers.

The pair met while studying towards a Bachelor of Computer Science and entered their Chillsy concept into the AUT X-Challenge together.

Chillsy didn’t win but the pair remained friends, working at the same company.

After realising their work environment wasn’t quite for them, Bohra and Austin quit during the 2021 lockdown and started to bring Chillsy to life.

“We wanted to do something we cared about and knew other people would appreciate it,” said Austin.

The pair's research showed them women have a harder time making new friends than men and need a space where they can connect over conversations.

To help during their planning phase, they are holding events for Aucklanders to attend – including the Gals Brunch.

Women in their 20s are invited through local community Facebook groups to register to attend a brunch with strangers in Newmarket.

Those who sign up are asked to share information about themselves such as their hobbies and why they want to join in, so that Bohra and Austin can select the best groups possible.

“We’ve got women travelling from Wattle Downs, Rodney and Pukekohe to make new friends,” said Bohra.

The Gals Brunch event caught the eye of Cantabrian Deanna Stoddart, who is looking for new friends after moving to Auckland.

“After I signed up, Charizze started a group chat with myself and five other girls. She explained why she selected us for the group which is kind of nice because you know what to expect,” said Stoddart.

“The other girls also liked to get out and do things which is great, and then everyone did a blurb about themselves,” she said.

Due to health reasons, Stoddart’s brunch did not go ahead.

“We’re planning to meet up next weekend for a drink instead now which I’m looking forward to,” she said.

Twenty-seven-year-old Mila Stephenson is also on the hunt for new connections.

“I think it’s such a great idea because I’ve been looking to expand my friendship circle, and I find as an adult it can be a little harder to connect with like-minded people,” she said.

“I’m looking forward to joining one of the brunches and see who I meet."

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