Texas ECE student Ashar Malik and Physics major, Eric Ngo, develop an app that engages and connects students at UT

Thursday, August 11, 2016 - 12:45pm

Texas ECE undergraduate student, Ashar Malik along with Eric Ngo, a senior in the Department of Physics at the University of Texas at Austin (UT), recently launched an app named ‘Kickit’, which helps students around the campus initiate spontaneous events and community activities. The app, which has over 1000 users already, has been rapidly gaining popularity amongst UT students. In this interview, Malik, shares his plans for the app

Tell us more about ‘Kickit’:

Ashar Malik: Kickit’s goal is to help connect people. And there are two ways to do that. The first way is to connect people with their friends for spontaneous events. This can be done by posting an event and asking your friends to join you in a group chat. And the second part, which we are now working on, is forming communities. This is a unique way to meet new people at your school. And the idea originally came to me when I use to play volleyball back in my freshman year at Gregory gym and sometimes I would have people to play with and other times there wouldn’t be enough of us to form a team. And I hoped there was way to reach out to people at UT that like playing volleyball. So that was my inspiration behind developing Kickit. It’s a way for people to gain access to other people who share the same interest.

Spontaneity is the real value of this app. Unlike MeetUp, which is more organized, Kickit, believes in on the spot planning and meeting people who share your interests and liking for activities.

What is your vision for this app?

We want to tackle the problem of meeting people and being connected to the local communities, such as groups at your local YMCA, or your gym or any sort of activity or location oriented groups, where it would be easier to connect with people around. Say you’ve moved to a new city for work and you want to meet new people but you don’t know where to go, since you are new to the area. Kickit will be a solution in such cases, where people can find activities around their area with ease.

How do people sign up for Kickit?

Anyone can sign up for the basic functionality, which includes being able to easily invite friends. But right now, the communities are restricted only to a few schools.

You sign up through the app and if you want to join communities you login through Facebook. And that is how we confirm that you are a UT student. That is how you get access to UT communities. We actually have a bunch of active communities right now, we’ve noticed people are using the app to form study groups and lunch meetups. Some of the active communities are for Gregory gym and Jester center as well.

How many members have joined since the launch of this app?

Well, we’ve only recently given public access to this app and we already have over 1000 users. We are currently focusing only on two local Texas schools: University of Texas at Austin and University of Houston, but we definitely want to expand our network to other school. Once we develop a more concrete plan for these two schools, we will include more schools as well, share the love.

How were you able to develop this app?

We started developing this app a little over a year ago. I learned Android development in high school and in my sophomore year at UT, I started self-learning, because I found it interesting. 

Tell us more about Eric Ngo, co-founder and developer of Kickit:

Eric and I came up with the idea jointly and we drew from both our experiences. We wanted to work on something that people would be excited about. Eric transferred to UT in his sophomore year, from University of Texas at San Antonio. Since he was new to the school, he too, wanted to find a way to meet new and like-minded people.

Right now, the app is aimed at the freshman. It comes from our experience of being a freshman at UT and being new to this campus. I had no idea about what activities they wanted me to join and the sort of organizations I could be a part of. There must be a lot of students, who don’t even know about the bowling alley, which is located at the student union. We want freshman students to be better oriented with these kind of activities around them. We want them to get out and make connections.

Eric is the main iPhone developer, and he has also been helping with the marketing and promotion of this app. iPhone development is his forte.  

What lies ahead?

This Fall, we are going to engage in lot more promotional activities for the app. We’ve been talking to people at the Diversity and Engagement Community department, and just tapping into other resources on campus to publicize the app and encourage its usage.

The app is available for download on iPhone and Android.


Where to download the app: