Winder Hughes didn’t set out to release a game-changing app — it just happened that way.
“I wanted to solve a problem. I played guitar, and there was no way to connect with other guitarists,” Hughes said. “And that problem goes for a lot of things. There just wasn’t a good way to meet with people who were interested in the same things. Plus, I realized the social networks can divide, rather than connect, people.”
His solution is called Relevnt, a network that is based on users’ interests and location, making it the only experience that brings local consumers, fans, enthusiasts and content creators together in mobile Communities anywhere in the world.
Hughes, who graduated with a degree in economics from UNC, spent most of his career working within established companies. He launched Relevnt in 2017 in Jacksonville, Fla., and the app has since been launched in multiple U.S. cities, including Chapel Hill and Jacksonville.
Relevnt provides live chatrooms where people can text. Chats are by interest, so users can tap into feeds about their favorite sports team, the latest fashion trends or the freshest music.
There’s even a nod to student entrepreneurs with #UNCStartups, which encourages collaboration and communication between student business founders on campus.
Besides the chatrooms, Relevnt offers the opportunity to register a community that creates an interactive profile on the app, similar to website domains. Popular with brands like Redbull and BuzzFeed, registered communities post content, updating their followers on the most relevant stories to them.
Hughes didn’t intend for Relevnt to be a replacement for established social media networks, but instead an experience that simplifies the ways people meet, connect and create. The platform differs from other social networks by showing relevant content, rather than just aggregated posts from users followed.
“Relevnt can be a social experience, but it’s not divisive because you have the same interests as the community you’re in,” Hughes said. “The location-based element is focused on following communities of interest to you, anywhere you go.”
The app streamlines the on-campus experience with @UNC_Communities. This student-run mobile guide allows students to explore all the different interest groups available on campus. Within this guide, there are several Chapel Hill-specific interest-based Communities, like #RamChat and #FranklinStreet, where users chat about everything UNC.
For students, Relevnt offers a way to keep up with new restaurants and events, stay up-to-date on trending topics, and follow content creators in the area. Even after they graduate, Relevnt allows for everyone to carry on their conversations – for life.
After his own experience at UNC and as a current entrepreneur, Hughes has a few words of advice for students, especially budding entrepreneurs: “Admit when you’re wrong, and be open to change every single day.”