MIT Startup Hippo Uses Data to Help Create Memories

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Decisions are hard, can we all agree with that?

How many times have you sat around with a friend or significant other wondering what to do or where to go on a Friday night?

As technology grows and isolation increases, the team at Hippo hopes to foster human interaction with their new app.

“There’s a lot of focus on making new connections, we’re helping people sustain the connections they already have,” co-founder Shana Opperman told The Buzz.

Hippo is an app designed to surface unexpected local things to do by using commonalities among users.

Data from Facebook and a Tinder-like user survey are pulled into Hippo’s algorithm to generate event suggestions for two or more users based on common interests. These events aren’t necessarily well known events like a concert at the TD Garden, rather smaller, local events, like a grilled cheese festival in Cambridge.

“We figure out your interests from the past, then we pull out the interesting patterns from those events and infer new ones,” co-founder Adis Ojeda said.

“We are really focusing on the unexpected, local things to do and surfacing commonalities,” Opperman said.

Opperman and Ojeda met in a class at MIT, and showed an interest in memories and how they were shared. That led to the creation of Hippo.

The name is unique, and doesn’t have anything to do with the giant water-dwelling mammal.

In fact, Hippo is short for hippocampus, the area of the brain that creates memories.

While there are other apps on the market that suggest events, the MIT duo said Hippo is developed for people first, unlike competitors.

“This is for people that say ‘I know I want to spend time with this person, I just don’t know how or what to do,” Opperman said.

The duo developed the app while students at MIT and have spent a large amount of time interviewing over 200 potential users to guarantee their solution fits their needs. They are now transitioning into working full time on it, ahead of their launch date in May.

As the team continues to build Hippo, they are looking to grow their user base and connect with people in the Boston-area. For more information, reach out to the Hippo team via email at hellohippo@mit.edu.

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