HowRandom, a site for college students, launches today with one core feature — the ability to anonymously chat with people from other schools. There’s no photo uploading, file sharing or video capabilities, just a text entry line and a chat widget.
The student on student communication happens on two levels, a test function where you casually enter in your school (warning, you have to type the full word “University”) and a verified function which allows you to type in your .edu address in order to get “Verified” as a bona fide college student.
Explains founder Jon Cook, “It’s a way for guys at Harvard to meet girls at Yale, etc. And it’s not intrusive. HowRandom has a very solid viral loop. It has the Facebook-like .edu exclusivity. And it’s extremely simple to use.”
Cook and co-founder Jason Humphries think of HowRandom as more of a social experiment than a business. They hope it will mirror the randomness of life and “foster real-world meetings and interactions between two people that might otherwise never meet. ” Like a text-based Chatroulette with no penis problem, there’s also a next feature in case you don’t like who you’re chatting with.
Cook says he wants to keep evolving the app through user feedback, and is considering including limited profile option along with the “Verified” logo.
Facebook initially restricted its users to college students with .edu addresses and that element was crucial to its success, this is also HowRandom’s hook. Colleges are hotbeds of virality in more ways than one, and starting off there is a good move for any social app.