U.Va. alumnus creates new app for students

MeeteR helps students access information about community, U.Va. events

“You missed it,” Steven Le, University alumnus and MeeteR app founder, said. “If you weren’t a part of the Listserv or a Facebook group. Come Friday or Saturday, I would look at my phone and wish I had an app that had the places to go.”

Now, as the tech world would say, there’s an app for that.

MeeteR — a social events platform for colleges focused on the idea of centrality — combines information about all activities going on at a university into one location. Fundraisers, concerts, parties, study groups, you name it — students can find whatever gathering they wish to attend in one all-encompassing location. Users can explore and buy tickets to events in the area, create their own events and manage the events they are attending and hosting. So far, the MeeteR team has only rolled the app out to University students.

“This app is pretty much what U.Va. needs,” University alumna Minh Bui said. “This would have been incredibly useful when I was [an] undergrad. It was difficult to hear about different events other than through Facebook and word of mouth.”

Le — who graduated in 2015 as a math major — left his job as a data scientist at Booz Allen Hamilton in March, after months of “scribbled notes on flashcards.” He was thinking about all the events he must have missed out on because of emails he never read and Facebook invites he was never sent or never clicked on. He gradually started concentrating more and more of his focus on his new idea, and said leaving his job to pursue MeeteR was the greatest risk of his career.

“The decision stems from a couple of things,” Le said. “I wanted to create something larger than myself and this [lack of centrality] has always been a problem that bothered me. I wanted to be put in a position that helped my alma mater and I wanted to be able to give that impact.”

Since then he has been working with his team of engineers and interns, with the support of his friends and family, to create and market the app. He said the project wouldn’t be where it is today without them. Tam Hoang, a design intern for MeeteR and sophomore at Virginia Tech, sees no challenges in the way of MeeteR’s success.

“College is where you find yourself and through MeeteR, through events you can make connections for now and for later,” Hoang said. “It’s a source where everyone can find their place. And because it was created by people who went to U.Va., they know what the area is like.”

IOS users can access the app for free via the App Store as of Sept. 20, and the app has already started to gain a following. Initially the events listed were those of groups that wanted to collaborate with MeeteR, but more events will continually be available as more users look to the app to host and manage their own events. 

The plans for the future, after ensuring all is successful at the University, include creating MeeteR for Android and expanding to the neighboring universities of James Madison and Virginia Tech.

“It all comes from humble beginnings though,” Le said. “The capital ‘R’ in MeeteR is to remind myself about humble beginnings. ‘R’ is a statistical programming language. My naive thought was that I was going to build it on R, but to correctly do what we needed to do we had to use more advanced technology.”

Le believes the app will be most useful to first-years and transfer students who haven’t yet found their niche, but is helpful for all University students.

“There’s not much like this from other startups coming out of Charlottesville,” Le said. “We’re glad to be putting this in the hands of the next generation.”

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