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Student-created, events-based app aims to bring students together

Student Life

By Lisa Pendergast

For one Memorial student, a series of events led to a bright idea to engage the student body.

Originally from India, computer science major Girish Verma completed high school in Bahrain before looking at universities in North America.

He decided to come to Memorial in 2021 and moved into student residences, at Paton College.

“It has been amazing,” he said. “It’s really easy to make friends from all over the world in residence. It was exactly the experience I was hoping for.”

One night, he accidentally locked himself out of his room. It sparked an idea: What if there was an app to connect students in residences?

“It was exactly the experience I was hoping for.” — Girish Verma 

He then met with the residence life team and the idea evolved into events. There are always plenty of events – a great way to connect with people, he says – in residence and across the university. Mr. Verma wants everyone to know about them.

He continued with his studies and, as he worked on a course in Brightspace, Memorial’s online learning management system, along came another opportunity.

“I was in Brightspace and a message popped up: “Get $500 for your startup idea” and I thought, “Okay!” It led me to Memorial’s Centre for Entrepreneurship (MCE).”

Entrepreneurship at Memorial

Mr. Verma secured the funding and began meeting with Ed Martin, director of the MCE.

“He’s been a great mentor,” said Mr. Verma. “He lets me figure out things on my own, which can be challenging, but also feels great. Previously, I didn’t know about the entrepreneurship resources that were available at Memorial.”

A brown man in his early 20s holds up a cellphone with a purple swirly display with the letter "u" on it. A bank of lockers are out of focus in the background.
Computer science student, Girish Verma, showcasing his app, Uniconn.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

The final product is an app called Uniconn.

Launched in August, there are already 250-plus users who are looking to get involved in campus life. More than 50 clubs and societies have signed on to promote their events to students.

The app uses push notifications to let you know if an event is nearby, or if there are any last-minute changes. It will track attended events and personalize future suggestions to a student’s particular interests.

“The aim is to bring the student body together through clubs and societies, with MUNSU, faculties or the Student Design Hub, basically to have students more engaged with Memorial through events,” said Mr. Verma. “This project is student-driven, which delivers a better product for students.”

Evolution of an idea

Mr. Verma is so invested in Uniconn that he enrolled in Evolution, an eight-week intensive program for early technology startups, through Genesis this summer. He earned the Top Student Venture Award.

Uniconn is not the only idea Mr. Verma has come up with to help bring the Memorial student community together.

While working as a MUCEP student at the Student Experience Office, the staff introduced him to the concept of student retention.

It sparked a whole new idea — a system that tracks data, not only on events, but on the specific student and their interests, while also potentially helping university decision-makers.

“I’m working towards a system that would let institutions know about participation and engagement,” he said. “The system would acquire data, handle it and translate it to speak to student interests and experiences. It could give advisors information to better guide students on programming and careers and it would benefit societies, as well. That’s my big idea!”

Interested in Uniconn? Download it through Apple or Android.

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