Above: UNC junior Nina Barnett founded Grooop. Photo courtesy of Nina Barnett. Safety and social life comes together in a new app called Grooop, developed by Nina Barnett, a junior at UNC from Raleigh. Barnett understands that she comes from a generation that values social media and being independent, so she married the two to
Above: UNC junior Nina Barnett founded Grooop. Photo courtesy of Nina Barnett.
Safety and social life comes together in a new app called Grooop, developed by Nina Barnett, a junior at UNC from Raleigh.
Barnett understands that she comes from a generation that values social media and being independent, so she married the two to give users a safety app that pulls from ideas like Apple’s Find My Friends and LiveSafe, the UNC Public Services-backed safety resource.
“Safety can be something fun,” Barnett says. “It’s not always something bad and in a threatening situation. Safety is a part of everyday life, we just don’t realize it.”
Grooop, which launched in August 2017 in the iTunes App Store, is targeted for college students to use. The app allows users to update statuses as “good,” “ready to go,” or “out & about.” The app, which can link user’s profiles to their Facebook account, gets its name from the customizable groups users are able to join. Members in a group are able to see everyone’s status and gets notifications when someone wants to leave their current location.
Grooop allows users to set “safe zones” on their GPS, which automatically sets your status to “good.” When users leave safe zones, they’re automatically marked as “out & about.”
Barnett, a double major in dramatic arts and physics, says developing the app and continuing to grow her company while being a full-time student hasn’t been easy. However, she believes in a larger vision of bringing safety to millions of college students across America.
The idea began when Barnett was a senior in high school. She constantly found herself texting friends to check on their status. Her parents and other family members often encouraged her to download safety apps, but Barnett never felt excited to do so and usually deleted safety apps a few months after the initial download.
As a freshman in college, a couple incidents occurred to friends that inspired her to take action.
“It has always been natural for me to have ideas and try to run with them,” Barnett says. “I know that when I get an idea, it’s not in my nature to sit back and not do anything.”
A majority of Barnett’s freshman year and part of her sophomore year was spent searching for an app developing company. Her research eventually led her to Smashing Boxes, a company based in Durham. By the time she decided on a developer to partner with, Barnett had a solid idea of what she wanted to app to look like.
“I didn’t want someone to take my idea and bend it,” says Barnett. “They brought a ton of energy to the idea and they shared my vision.”
Since Grooop is in the beginning stages of being a published app, Barnett can often be found in Durham working with Smashing Boxes to continue improving. Barnett started small with Grooop, asking her parents for business help. Now, she’s brought on other team members from UNC’s campus.
The main way Barnett plans to spread Grooop to other campuses is through campus ambassadors. Ambassadors get Grooop swag and are asked to advocate for the app around campus and share a passion for campus safety.
Currently, Grooop has around 2,500 downloads from varying regions across America with some downloads from out of the country. There are campus ambassadors at 20 different colleges.
Barnett feels good about the start of Grooop. While college students make the majority of users, boarding schools like Virginia Episcopal School in Lynchburg, Virginia have reached out to Barnett to talk to their seniors about Grooop, which enables to app to reach younger demographics.
“Being a college student is super helpful because I can relate to my app and the users,“ Barnett says. “It’s definitely hard to balance, but I still have a life.”
Despite the competing time commitments from being the CEO of Grooop and the busy workload from classes, Barnett says her background in physics and dramatic arts work together to improve Grooop.
The idea is that Grooop will be used in mundane activities, like going to get food, Barnett says . Her goal is to have safety be part of every day life and keep friends connected, no matter the distance apart.
“We can be safer together even when we’re alone,” Barnett says.
To visit Grooop’s website or find out more information about becoming a campus ambassador, visit www.getgrooop.com.