Sophia and RebeccaSOPHIA ARORA

Sophia Arora and Rebecca McNeill join the Zoom interview sat down in front of a couch in London. We immediately start talking about the app they are launching on 11th October, Swop. I would describe Swop as Tinder for friendship groups: friendship groups join the app, and if two groups swipe right on each other, they can access a messaging interface and plan a meet-up. They can also book their night out through the app.

‘One half of the inspiration for the app was how to get people back together in a post-pandemic world. The other half, at least for me, was my experience on dating apps’, Sophia states.

“The app brings back the authenticity of meeting someone.”

‘I felt really awkward and cringed using them. For instance, I remember creating a Hinge profile and then never going on the date. I felt a bit uncomfortable, I didn’t know if it was safe and I didn’t have the time in Cambridge with so much work going out to go on a date that could be an absolute disaster and a complete waste of my time. With Swop you can’t be wasting your time because you’re having a night-out with your friends, and then you may or may not meet a partner. It’s a way safer and more comfortable environment.’

‘I think this app brings back the authenticity of meeting someone instead of the sexual transaction aspect of Tinder’, Rebecca says. They also hope the app will help students meet groups of friends from different colleges: Swop was inspired by the Cambridge concept of swaps as well.

I ask them if they have inbuilt safeguards, in a context where the failure of dating apps to protect their users is well known. They say the app will have a reporting function and they will examine any complain swiftly and exclude problematic users.

"How do we get people together in a post-pandemic world?"

Their business model is daring. They invested their savings in the app and are not expecting it to become profitable for a few years. ‘Our model is Snapchat, that was not profitable for the first two years’, Sophia explains. They developed Swop through daily meetings with a Manchester-based company, Padoq — something Sophia, who grew up in Manchester, is proud of.

They found the idea of the app at a party, in late June. ‘We’re both very driven people. We had the discussion and next thing we knew, we were working with a company to develop the app,’ Sophia says. They hesitated about going through with the project when they had to invest their personal savings, but not for long. “As women entrepreneurs, you find yourself doubting your project, wondering if you are moving too fast’, Rebecca adds. ‘At the end of the day, the question is: if I don’t launch this app, who will, a more tenacious boy?’

“I think we hesitated about going through with the project at the moment of investing our savings.”

Sophia describes their first meeting as ‘classic’ — or at least classic for Cambridge. They met in the Cindies smoking area, and then talked further at the Van of Life. Their first ‘sober encounter’, Sophia reports, was also their first business meeting. They had brunch at the Locker Café. ‘When I realized Rebecca had brought her laptop to brunch, I knew she meant business’, Sophia wrote me.

Sophia and Rebecca will have a full-time job next year, as well as work on expanding Swop. ‘It’s very common for people to have a main hustle and lots of side hustles’, Sophia states. ‘But hopefully it will become the main hustle, you never know!’