The time you spend in university is supposed to be the best time of your life. You’re finally old enough to have all the fun grown-up stuff but without the crushing adult responsibilities.
The friends you meet understand and see you, oh yes, the sheer joy in that. Plus, you get to choose your classes so that school is only twice a week.
Well, after the glow of the honeymoon fades and looming deadlines of assignments set in. Here comes the stress as you try to wait for the campus bus that always seems to be late. Yes, university life is new and exciting, but sometimes it can also be stressful and unexpectantly lonely.
Four university graduates from Nanyang Technological University, Quek Ding Ren, Cedrik Lim, Kevin Yu, Chen YongWei, saw the gaps in campus life. Like any millennial, they created an app called uWave, to enhance student life.
We speak to one of uWave’s co-founders, Quek Ding Ren, on how the conception of uWave and its future plans.
An idea for uWave in Sillicon Valley
The idea from uWave came from one of the app’s other co-founders, Cedrik Lim. He was on a rather prestigious internship at Silicon Valley when he had a light bulb moment.
Cedrik felt that campus experience was a neglected topic, and more could be done to connect students.
“uWave understands that navigating campus can be a whole new experience that is baffling to freshmen and seniors alike at times. Our features seek to make the campus experience a more colourful one.”
Cedrik even wrote his first line of code right there in Silicon Valley, the epicentre of start-ups. Like all entrepreneurs with an idea, the folks at uWave started small.
They started with a utility tool such as live bus schedules and module reviews. Besides always being punctual at the bus stop, module reviews are an extremely useful feature.
Here, you can rate modules on difficulty, the lecturer on their teaching style, and even the easiness of the module. An invaluable tool when you’re deciding on which module boost your GPA. uWave added their social networking feature in June 2021 after receiving user feedback.
Students can add tests, deadlines, and events according to the unique schedule. Moreover, you’ll remember how those beginning days as freshmen, getting lost around campus and never making it to class on time.
uWave has a handy map function that has been crucial in helping newbies navigate their new school. Then, the app added its social networking feature in June 2021 after receiving user feedback.
One of the most attractive qualities of the app is how students can also enjoy a multitude of open discussions, with topics ranging from career planning, current affairs to relationship advice and more. After all, isn’t that what university life is all about?
How uWave facillitates safe spaces
For the founders, uWave was created to be the go-to social networking app for Gen Zs and committed to addressing pain points not tackled by existing solutions. One of the main pain points is, yup, you’ve guessed it, mental health.
The term mental health might seem like a buzzword for our times, but it is one aspect of our health that we should always take seriously.
“We observe an increase in the number of anonymous online posts surrounding mental health issues. Hence, uWave provides a platform that users can use as a haven to express their emotions without worry of judgement.”
If the increase in the number of youth suicides are any indication, there is still a huge gap in addressing our mental health concerns. With Campus Discussions, students can feel safe sharing the ups and downs when traversing this new phase of life.
Connectivity and community has always been important, but in a time of COVID-19, the importance of relationship building has shifted online. It is easy to feel isolated given the lack of physical interaction one is given these days. uWave’s role in facilitating connectivity has become all the more important. We build uWave in hopes that we can redefine connectivity for Gen Zs.Quek Ding Ren, co-founder of uWave
This is seconded by how uWave saw a huge shift towards social features where over 60% of our daily users use the social features.
More than the snazzy timetable and calendar function, even though those are helpful indeed, uWave serves the student community best when connecting students and allowing them to openly share thoughts and concerns or even anonymously seek mental health advice from one another.
Cycling to work and drawing only S$500/mth
The road to building an app is always paved with staying past midnight and having a series of existential questions while battling the crippling self-doubt. The same goes for uWave, and in those early days, times were tough.
Cedrik has a mechanical engineering background, so he did not have the skills to develop an app. But, with an idea as powerful as uWave, he learned coding from Udemy while developing the first version of uWave before he could convince anyone to join.
“People had doubts about this idea, claiming that there were existing solutions and that students would never require uWave. But we proved it otherwise.”
In the first year after graduating, Kevin (who joined as a co-founder) and Cedrik drew an allowance of $500/month from SG Founder Grant.
“He cycled to work every day and ate cheap food to survive. It would have been easier for them to accept job offers elsewhere and live comfortably.”
Pre-seed round of S$260k from Carousell and Carro
All of that paid off because Uwave is now used in over eight schools since the app’s social feature was launched three months ago, including NTU, NUS and SMU.
At this moment, over 29,000 students are benefitting from the uWave app, with a 10% weekly increase on average.
As the cherry on top, Uwave raised US$260,000 in a pre-seed round, with angel investors like Carousell CEO Quek Siu Rui, Carro CEO Aaron Tan, Rainforest CEO JJ Chai, GetGo CEO Ting Feng Toh, and ex-Facebook director Andy Hwang.
Prior to their pre-seed round, the team bootstrapped their operations. For the team at Uwave, this new capital means building even better infrastructure in the app to improve student life.
“With the new funds, uWave will accelerate the development of its products to build an even more extensive social networking app that better connects students and Gen Zs.”
uWave is also looking to welcome new features to the current suite, such as uWave Communities and Stories.
As fantastic as it is, the most rewarding part of their journey is how they have revolutionalised student life.
“Users have been coming forward to thank us for the addition of the discussion thread as many have found solace and made friends in the unique communities within uWave.”
Featured image credit: uWave