James Heaney and Reza Khonsari’s new dating app, exclusive to Ryerson students, is scheduled to launch in March
Reza Khonsari and James Heaney, the founders of the upcoming RU Mine dating app, say their main goal is to connect people from different faculties who otherwise wouldn’t get the chance to meet.
Two Ryerson University students are developing a dating app specifically catered towards Ryerson students, which is set to launch in March.
James Heaney and Reza Khonsari are the founders of RU Mine, an upcoming dating app which can be used only by students with a valid Ryerson email address to match them up with other Ryerson students.
“It’s basically a free exclusive dating app for Ryerson students that serves the community needs and at the same time is inclusive to everyone who stays on campus,” Khonsari said about the project.
The app, which the pair hopes to have ready for beta testing by March, will be available for students to download on their phone’s app store. They then have to verify that they are a Ryerson student by logging in to a Google portal with their Ryerson login credentials.
Students would then have access to their profiles as well as other profiles of students on campus. Heaney says this is where RU Mine will set itself apart from other popular dating apps. He says RU Mine is all about telling stories about people’s lives. They plan on doing this by implementing an interactive feature that will enable users to describe themselves.
“We’re trying to get past a lot of the shallowness of traditional dating apps by trying to really have people understand the story behind the person that they’re deciding on, not just, ‘Oh, this person looks good, I’m gonna swipe,’” Heaney said.
Heaney, a third-year mechanical engineering student and Khonsari, a fourth-year civil engineering student, first met two years ago through a frosh week group chat, where Khonsari became a mentor for Heaney. The pair conceived the idea for RU Mine one night after discussing their past relationships, realizing most of their former relationships have been with people outside of the Ryerson community.
“It’s really a shame, especially because there’s a lot of people here,” Heaney said, adding that he believes Ryerson is missing an opportunity for connection.
The pair attributes this disconnection to the fact that Ryerson is a commuter school, with people always travelling in and out of campus, unlike close-knit schools like Queen’s University, Western University and the University of Waterloo.
“We don’t really have an atmosphere for people to meet people outside of programs, classes or even faculty,” Khonsari said. “We want to bring people together from across faculties for a chance for them to meet and [with RU Mine] you will be meeting people that you wouldn’t normally meet by going to your eight hours of class a day and then going home and studying.”
It’s this disconnect that makes Megan Morley, a second-year Ryerson business management student, think this app is a good idea.
“A lot of us are commuters and sometimes at home we don’t have social groups and we come to school hoping that’s our social group, but I find it’s kind of hard to meet people in classes because we’re all coming from different parts of the city,” Morley said.
Morley also says she believes that since every RU Mine user will be a Ryerson student, they will have an easier time relating to one another.
“I’ve used a dating app before and I know that if there’s somebody from Ryerson on there, we immediately start talking about school, so that kind of topic to speak about will already be given.”
Second-year English student Nadia Tonkovic, on the other hand, says she doesn’t see the idea taking off.
“I think it’s a good idea and some people will get into it, but I don’t feel like enough people will get on board to make it as known as Tinder,” Tonkovic said.
Regardless, Heaney and Khonsari are currently trying to promote the app by reaching out to different Ryerson social media pages. One page includes the Instagram account, @ryerson_confessions, which is popular in the Ryerson community for posting students’ opinions anonymously. Khonsari says the page partially helped inspire RU Mine after they saw people trying to find single people they’ve seen around on campus.
“[The page] loved the idea and they were more than happy to help us and give us the push that we needed,” Khonsari said.
So far, the pair have developed the app’s user interface and are making progress finishing up its functions. Although they’ve been offered help from several fellow Ryerson students and friends, they prefer to work alone for now. Heaney has experience developing web applications as a software engineer for Sunnybrook Hospital and Khonsari has developed eight game applications for Windows and Android since he was 13 years old.
The pair have more promotional ideas planned, including a surprise for Valentine’s Day. But right now, they’re focused on meeting their March deadline.
“We have a lot of future plans of where we want to go with it,” Heaney said. “But really, right now we’re focusing on hitting a home run on our initial release, trying to get that community feedback to see how we can improve and how we can make the app more inclusive and welcoming.”