The first app exclusively for college students is catching on at Union University, with users excited about the ability to win gift cards to various brands.
Blend, an app founded May 2013 by three young men, is similar to Instagram in that it is a photo feed to which users upload images.
The idea is to get friends to “snap” their photo, similar to the “like” feature on Facebook and Instagram. What sets it apart is that there is a theme for photos each day that filters the type of photo a user uploads in order to best fit the category and gain the most snaps possible.
Once users get a set number of snaps for their daily photo, they cash in those snaps for gift cards to brands such as Chegg and eShave.
Stephen Hauss, senior management major, said he heard about Blend at the beginning of March and continues to earn gift cards.
“I got a $20 gift card to a swimwear company, but their cheapest swimsuits were $100 so some of the gift cards may be valuable and some may not.”
Users on Union’s campus are among the first to download the app. It is relatively new and has not organized any marketing pushes yet, said Akash Nigam, CEO and co-founder of Blend Systems Inc.
“Right now we are still in beta, so we are not pushing the product to the entire market yet,” said Nigam. “We want to focus on building out the product and then start branding/marketing in August to acquire as many users as possible. The college exclusivity is key to our model — all features will cater solely to this demographic.”
Becca Orosz, junior social work major, said she thinks Instagram is different enough from Blend that users will not switch from one app to the other.
Rachel Robbins, senior music and psychology double major, said she has never heard of Blend.
“I probably won’t get on it because I don’t take many pictures, but I think other people at Union who do take pictures will get on it.”
Similarly, Matthew Young, sophomore nursing major, hadn’t heard of it, either.
“I might get it depending on how much room is left on my phone, and I think other students would consider it because we all need money.”
Of those who have the app, Blend is enjoyable and rewarding.
The app has a reported 50,000 daily users, and founders say they plan to add new features soon. Due to the rivalry between University of Michigan and Ohio State, the founders of Blend Systems Inc. decided undergraduates of their rival are not allowed to join the app.
“We do not allow Ohio State students to use the app,” said Nigam. “It’s simply because we shoot for quality users … Go blue!”