by ALEXANDRA ESPINAL ’16
Kampus, a free social networking app for college students, is coming to Manhattanville. The app, which was created by two students from Lindenwood University in Missouri, won the Lindenwood University Startup Pitch Competition in November 2013 and has been developing ever since. The app is currently available for iPhone free of charge and Manhattanville students can download it and sign up with their Manhattanville email. After signing up, the app connects you to students that have signed up using the M’ville email and shows you their name, major, and country of origin. Touchstone caught up with Alejandra Sandoval ’16 and Kampus co-founder and Lindenwood University graduate Diego Kafie to ask them about the app.
How did you get involved with Kampus? What attracted you to this idea?
AS: Last semester, a very good friend of mine who was studying with Diego and Alcides (creators of Kampus) at Lindenwood University visited me at Manhattanville. While we were having dinner he was on his phone the entire time. I kept asking him what he was up to and his only answer was, “Ale, you HAVE to try this!” He started showing me everything that he could do on Kampus and I instantly fell in love with the idea. A week or so after he left, I received a message from Diego asking me if I was interested in becoming part of his amazing team, a proposal I couldn’t reject. From there, everything has been a great learning experience.
How has Kampus developed since you first thought of the idea?
DK: It’s been a hell of a ride. We started working on this in April 2013, and we honestly didn’t know what we were doing. Later in the year, we won a business competition at our school that featured renowned investor Daymond John (from “Shark Tank” fame). In February 2014, we launched a beta version of our product to a handful of schools, simply to test the waters. It turned out that the concept was great, but we still needed to work on the product to make it efficient and simply irresistible. The product of all that hard work is Kampus 2.0, which is the version M’ville students can get on the App Store today.
DK: Kampus has many great features. There’s the home screen, where you can see what the people you follow are up to, what events are scheduled for the future, and even a “memes” station (that comes in handy when you’re in a boring class). We also have a messenger for private one on one and group conversations. There’s also “Mingle”, our in-app dating feature… I won’t get into it that much, but it’s LOTS of fun, so check it out. We have a peer-to-peer marketplace, so you can sell your old couch or textbooks to someone else from your school and vice versa. We also have an anonymous professor rating system, so you can give ratings to your professors and see which professors you should take next semester. Finally, we have our Deals feature. We’re partnering with local businesses around college campuses and getting them to offer deals for the students. Students will simply go to the restaurant, bar, or service provider, pull out Kampus and tap “Redeem” on a deal. They’ll then show their phone to the cashier and save a few bucks.
There’s a lot of social networking websites and apps already. What makes Kampus different and what inspired you to create it?
DK: First of all, Kampus is school-exclusive. If you go to Lindenwood University, you’ll only see people from Lindenwood University, and so on. You will never see your little siblings, your parents or (God forbid) your employers on Kampus. It’s really private. We are building Kampus like that because we believe that there’s a need to help students connect with people and things exclusive to their school.
Why do you think Kampus will be good for the Manhattanville community?
AS: Kampus is a really private place to share everything you want within your school’s community. Manhattanville is a really special place, but I feel that a lot of the time M’ville students are divided into different groups. That’s where Kampus comes in. It lets you stay in touch with people you already know, but gives you the opportunity to break those cliques and start meeting people around you that you never knew could have so much in common with you. In addition to that, it’s just a very useful tool. Students can easily buy and sell things in the Kampus Market and find out what professors they should take classes with. I’m also working hard to get discounts on Kampus from our favorite nearby businesses so that we can all save some money and have some fun!
DK: Kampus takes that concept of a “closed-circuit network” and blows it up. We’re students too, and we wanted to build something WE would love to have. You’ll always have the huge social networks to connect you to the rest of the world, but we want to help you connect and discover all the amazing people and things that are right in front of you.