Engineering friendship

Alum startup Jetivity aims to bring people together around shared interests with a free platform for posting activities.

While social networks keep us connected to old friends, they’re not so great for meeting new friends in new places. Now, an alumni startup is looking to address this gap in the Web with a new site devoted to getting people together, no strings attached. Called Jetivity, it is a free platform for posting or finding open recreational activities.

“Prior to creating Jetivity, I had attempted to use Meetup to find a walking group for pregnant women in my area, but there were only inactive groups,” said founder Suzanne Hayen (BSE Aero ’08).

Creating her own group meant giving away personal information and paying a monthly fee. Besides, she didn’t want the commitment of being a group leader, and the expectation that she would plan regular events, especially with a baby on the way.

So she and her husband, Kevin Hayen (BSE EE ’08), started Jetivity. Launched in May, it features events around Ann Arbor and Detroit such as pub runs, yoga classes and trivia nights. The Hayens hope that as Jetivity gains users, more casual gatherings such as hikes, pick-up games and play dates will dominate the site rather than events hosted by existing groups.

The Hayens are particular about privacy, so the advertisements that fund the site are based not on user histories or tracking information from cookies, but the content on the site. Also, the events you see depend on where you are – Jetivity has events and users in many metro areas, including Detroit, Chicago and New York City.

“Our goal is for Jetivity to become the go-to website when looking to meet new people,” said Suzanne Hayen. “At the moment, we are focusing most of our attention on spreading the word about the site and attracting engaged users.”

Although the site is new, it is already working for the Hayens. They hit it off with another couple at a Jetivity outing to the zoo.