BYU students create new app to tie diversity into campus connections

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Zachary Heaton (left), Mark Briggs and Jack Wolthuis participate in a user testing session for Tiedye. Tiedye is an app that connects BYU students together based on similar interests. (Mikayla Cheng)

Two BYU students created an app that helps connect students and create relationships based on similar interests.

BYU students Mikayla Cheng and Aaron Chan created Tiedye after seeing how hard it can be for students to foster friendships and meet people. Once the pandemic changed social interaction and increased distancing from others, Cheng and Chan decided Tiedye would be a platform for tying diverse groups of people together. The app launches Friday, Feb. 5.

“When we have a solid set of friends and sincere connection to others, we feel more whole as people. That’s what we want for every Tiedye user,” Cheng said.

The app will give BYU students the opportunity to build new communities specifically designed for them. App users can plug in a shortlist of facts about themselves into a survey, which will create around 10 to 12 tags that tie each person to others who share similar tags.

Users will be shown people who share similar interests, backgrounds, LDS missions, sports, clubs and everything else in between, Cheng and Chan said.

Both creators said one goal of Tiedye is to bring niche communities to the surface and show how valuable social connection is.

Chan recalled experiencing a sense of shock when coming to college and feeling like there wasn’t a clear-cut community he could fit in. He said he understands some people feel right at home during their time at BYU, but for those who don’t know where they belong, he is willing to bet there are communities for them.

“Every single person you could potentially meet on Tiedye, you could meet in person. But Tiedye provides a way where the most diverse parts of a person can help them make connections to new people,” Chan said.

Cheng and Chan are both computer science majors who are double majoring in other fields. They said they created Tiedye as a side project because of their love of people and hope to make a difference.

Through Tiedye’s Instagram account and word of mouth, the app has already gained followers during its pre-launch period. It has gone through many testing sessions to prepare for its release date.

Jack Wolthuis, a sophomore studying international relations, participated in a Tiedye user testing session to help Chan and Cheng work out any problems a user might come across. Wolthuis said he would encourage BYU students to give Tiedye a whole-hearted chance because real friendships could be built using the app.

“The whole purpose of Tiedye isn’t to make yourself look good or read memes ― it’s to meet people who have similar interests who you might not meet otherwise. The more people who use the app, the more effective it will be in helping you meet new friends,” Wolthuis said.

Students can follow Tiedye on Instagram and find it on the Google Play Store and App Store.

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