Bangor graduate, Meina Tang, has been working on launching a social media platform in Bangor for the past year. She is the founder of UniBeat, a free app intended for students to share their activities, skills, experience, and time. I met with Tang over lunch in the Pontio building, to hear about her project.
“I don’t like the current social way,” said Tang.
“Some people want to help others but they don’t know each other. There is not always a friend to help. It is a friend of a friend of a friend. I want for there to be support,”
“This app is for the students to share resources with each other, and the resources are not just the activities and the events. Every student has different skills and experience that can help others.”
As she spoke, Tang held out her phone to demonstrate the app. Tapping ‘Bangor University’ into a filter, she began scrolling through a chronological feed, detailing events and posts in the area. Each is represented by a title superimposed over a short video or an image. Although UniBeat is publicly available on the Appstore, these events have been manually added for the benefit of roughly 50 testing users.
“I started from scratch, all the design, what you see. My plan is before September, before Freshers, I will put all societies and events on it.” Tang continued.
When asked about UniBeat in relation to other social media, Tang compared it to TikTok, but with function on top of fun. Tang also compared it to similar systems within Facebook.
“I don’t like Facebook. It is too clunky and too old. But I don’t want to replace Facebook, I just want to focus on students. We are not like a competitor relationship. Facebook connects people you already know. I connect people you don’t, who can help.” said Tang.
Tang also clarified that UniBeat would not collect data, and would be connected only to a user’s university email address. She intends to support the app solely through advertisements from companies with a high relevance to students. Until last month, Tang worked alongside a programmer studying at Bangor, who has since had to leave the project:
“He started programming since he was 12 years old. He knows 15 programming languages, and AI machine learning, everything. He just knows everything. When we were doing this project together, 95% of his time was on this project, 5% on his studies but he still got an A. He left last month. I need to be careful about that. That is very terrible, to change a programmer.” she said.
Tang is now seeking a new programmer to continue the project. UniBeat began last year, when Tang graduated from Bangor with a Master of Business Administration. Prior to coming to Bangor, she acquired a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering and worked as an IT consultant in China, her home country. She described her feelings working in IT:
“When I did that I felt tortuous. I told my boss ‘I don’t want to work for you’ and I quit. I came here. I started this journey,” she said.
“Everyone around me has a career. I am taking a risk with my life. I just focus on doing business. Lots of people say I should give up. My family wants me to come back to China. But if I give up now I feel I give up everything,”
“Big Ideas Wales and B-Enterprising Bangor helped me a lot. They supported a lot. I feel like I will do this. In the beginning I felt afraid, but not anymore.”
Tang intends to register UniBeat as a company before November, and is pursuing funding to launch the app on a large scale. Eventually she hopes the app can gain popularity on campuses everywhere.