Manchester-based entrepreneurs launching socialising app Linkup to help city’s students meet new people

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The duo hope to bring about ‘a revolution in socialising’ and combat loneliness and isolation - and say Manchester is the ideal place to start.

Two Manchester-based entrepreneurs are launching a new app helping people to meet and make new friends - and are starting out with the city’s students.

Linkup has been created by Ben Whatson from Wilmslow and Jack Peagam, who live on Deansgate and initially teamed up to found a fitness platform.

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The duo say they hope Linkup will make it easier for people to find new friends at a time when social isolation and loneliness are major issues, and have chosen to launch it when thousands of students are coming into Manchester to begin their degree studies.

They have also secured some high-profile backing in the world of online influencers and social media.

What is Linkup and how was it created?

Linkup came about after Jack and Ben were down in London and wanted to meet some new people to chat to over a few beers, and realised there was nothing around that would facilitate that.

Ben said: “We’re both social butterflies and we couldn’t understand why there wasn’t an app to meet new people. There are lots of dating apps but nothing to meet new friends in your area with similar interests.

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“We saw that initial opportunity and since then it has gone from zero to 100.”

The app interface for LinkupThe app interface for Linkup
The app interface for Linkup

Jack added: “The more we talked to people the more we realised meeting people who like the same things you do is a fundamental problem. There’s also nothing to facilitate spontaneous meeting, right now. If you try to live in the moment you don’t want to wait until next week to do whatever you want to do.”

Linkup works by creating a meeting point through the app which can take place immediately or within the next 24 hours. The person who has made the linkup sets a category, such as drinks, sports or fitness, and it then goes on a discover page which lets users see what is happening in their area.

There is also a chat function to speak to people before attending and get the details and, at a time when safety in the online world and in the night-time economy are significant issues, linkup creators also have control over accepting and rejecting people from events and can also pull the plug on a meeting if they wish.

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Linkup is Jack and Ben’s second project, as they initially started working together on an online fitness platform called Actve based around exclusive content which they started at the beginning of the first lockdown in 2020.

When is the Manchester launch and why is it happening in the city?

Linkup is launching on 15 September and its first customers will be the students at Manchester’s universities. Manchester has a huge student population with more than 96,000 people, around 17,500 of them from abroad, learning at its higher education institutions.

Jack and Ben say they believe the city they now call home is the ideal place to get Linkup running.

Jack said: “Manchester is a great city to start in. I would say it’s the second city of the UK compared to London and London would just be too big initially. We need to get a critical mass in one city and South London and North London might as well be two different cities.

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“Manchester is very vibrant and all the students are coming into town, freshers are coming in from wherever, the city is full of students. We feel this is the best place to launch Linkup.”

Ben added: “Manchester is such a thriving student city and has great nightlife as well. We’re looking to tap into that.

Jack Peagam and Ben Whatson, the creators of LinkupJack Peagam and Ben Whatson, the creators of Linkup
Jack Peagam and Ben Whatson, the creators of Linkup

“Meeting people isn’t as easy as it used to be. Some unis have gone online with their courses and with Covid people have been trapped indoors and had cabin fever.

“We’re going to create a social app that actually makes people social, so they can get out there and go on adventures together.”

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Linkup is currently working with brand ambassadors from three universities in Manchester and Salford and they will be posting regular linkups and attending meetings to try to get the concept up and running.

The app has also attracted some rather more high-profile investors including hip hop duo Krept & Konan, YouTuber Calfreezy and other influencers and footballers.

Jack and Ben say they eventually envisage Linkup as a way for celebrities to meet lucky fans, setting up events which a handful of those who ask to join will then receive invitations to exclusive things like joining someone at a table in a club or doing a backstage meet-and-greet at a gig.

Why do Jack and Ben think Linkup will be something people appreciate?

Jack and Ben say they do not think meeting new people is particularly easy in the 21st century and that they have spotted a needed niche for Linkup to fill.

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Ben said: “We live in a lonely society. We first thought of the app wanting to go and have a beer with someone but we realised we are tackling something greater than that.”

Some of the statistics on social isolation and loneliness, particularly among younger people, make for concerning reading.

A 2018 survey led by The University of Manchester and BBC Radio 4 found that 16-to-24-year-olds experience loneliness more often and more intensely than any other age group.

And Psychology Today published a report which suggested 73% of Generation Z (the group of people who were born between the late 1990s and the early 2010s) reported feeling lonely sometimes or always.

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Ben said:”Very simply, we want to help people socialise, meet and connect in the real world. We want to empower people to use technology positively to break out of those cycles of loneliness.”

You can pre-register for the app online and it will be available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

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