App co-founders want to make it easy to make new friends

A couple is trying to help others form relationships with just the swipe of a finger.

Mezena and Greg Sylvester are the co-founders and owners of Cliques, an app specifically designed to help people make all sorts of connections. Users can register as either a Solo or a Duo and can connect with other people in their area who either want to be friends, date or network. Users can also filter results based on specific interests.

A 2020 study found that more and more people — across all generations — are willing to meet new friends online, particularly through social media platforms. The study was published before the pandemic hit later that year. So the number of people who feel comfortable using apps to find friends has only increased. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported that Millennials and Gen Z were even using dating apps to find some kind of platonic connection.

There is definitely a hole in the market that Mezena and Greg aim to fill with Cliques. And they couldn’t have launched the app at a better time.

Mezena and Greg themselves met online. But when they moved into their new home, they found it hard to establish friendships with other couples in the area.

“When we were trying to make friends and using a lot of these apps, [people] were looking for things we weren’t necessarily looking for,” Mezena explained to In The Know. “So we just decided, ‘why not just create our own app instead of using different ones?'”

Mezena and Greg partnered with a development company to make the app and became the first test subjects.

“If something went wrong, we would have to go in and tell them how to fix it,” Greg said.

“It was definitely a long process,” Mezena added. “We were trying to create a new, Black-owned app [and] we know there’s not too many [of those].”

With the success of mainstream dating apps like Tinder, Bumble and Hinge, it makes sense that the couple would want to venture into a like-minded app that could also connect new friends and job opportunities. But what especially sets Cliques apart is the company’s dedication to inclusion. It took Tinder seven years to allow its users to identify their sexual orientation. Cliques — which launched in mid-July — already had it prioritized.

“Inclusion is very important to us,” Cliques says on the Apple App Store. “We want everyone to feel welcome.”

You can download Cliques on iOS and Android.

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If you liked this story, check out In The Know’s profile on Kena Peay, who is taking up space in a white male-dominated field.

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