In and effort that reinforces April's importance as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, location-sharing and group messaging app bthere has partnered with It's On Us, a social movement created by Barack Obama and The White House Council on Women and Girls to fight against sexual assault on college campuses. As part of the alliance, bthere will donate $2 to It's On Us each time someone downloads the app using the referral code, "IOU".
Originally launched in 2017 by Austin entrepreneur Ben Johanson, bthere is a free app developed with design agency Handsome which is aimed at making college campuses safer by bringing friends closer, enabling them to be accountable for each other during a night out. The app also rewards them for every minute they spend together in real-life, offering everything from free festival tickets to Coachella, trips, discounts at retailers like Asos and cash prizes among other incentives.
With his goal to establish bthere as more than just another social networking app, one that's driven to help people be there authentically and holistically in real life for one another, Johanson collaborated with Handsome, an agency that prides itself on holistic experience design as exemplified in its innovative work for FedEx, Audi and Nickelodeon. "As soon as I had my first sit-down with Handsome, I knew they were the right fit," Johanson recalls. "I was drawn to their strong emphasis on human-centered design. They stressed the importance of basing every product decision on a sense of empathy with the user, and I knew they'd be a perfect partner in bringing the idea to life."
Before creating the app, Handsome first conducted extensive research around campus safety, dorm room visits, student interviews. Leveraging its findings, the agency ultimately developed a product that emphasizes the positive ideas of exploration, community and communication while sensitively addressing the topic of sexual assault.
With its colorful design and cheeky humor, bthere's newly refreshed capabilities allow users to form permanent or temporary circles of friends, roomates or family. Equipped with features like group messaging, location sharing and pinned mapping, those circles can coordinate plans, announce events through a "Drop a Piñata” feature, find each other if they get separated on a night out, and even get updates on each other’s battery usage. For the rewards themselves, users can earn “time”, which is translated into bthere coins (1 hour = 1 coin) by being within the same proximity to one another via geolocation on their smartphones, or just by having the phone in their possession. The coins amassed can then be cashed in for discounts or free gear at local area retailers.
According to Handsome CEO John Roescher, the agency's exhaustive work on bthere reflects its belief that people don't experience brands, products or services in silos, but as ecosystems. "Since every brand touchpoint is an expression of that brand's values," he says, "it's important for us to take an approach that's similarly immersive--all of our client engagements are managed by small, dedicated teams that include a member from senior leadership. Our strategy is informed by generative 'human data' and interviews and time spend with real people, to create product roadmaps that deliver results quickly and scale for the future."
After launching locally at the University of Texas, bthere has already rolled out to other major college campuses including Alabama, USC and Ole Miss, with hopefully more campuses slated for the future. With this momentum, Founder/CEO Johanson wants to continue a broader, more impactful conversation and reach everyone on-campus with bthere, from those living the Greek life to introverts and everyone in between. "The bthere app was born out of a desire to spark conversations about what it means to be there for one another and empower men and women to take real, tangible action to stant against sexual assault," he adds. "We want to truly develop a preventative network that educates people, encourages transparency, prevents the harm before it occurs and takes a community approach to ending sexual assault on campus."
Handsome is a holistic experience design agency based in Austin. We create deeply connected brands, services and products that enable powerful relationships between businesses and people.
bthere is a group messaging and location-sharing app on a mission to bring close friends together, for extraordinary face-to-face experiences and moments that matter. Users can create their circles of friends and get free gear, perks and rewards for every minute they spend together in real life. Headquartered in Austin, TX, bthere believes we are better together. Visit www.bthere.is for more.