Chillabit is on track to become students’ new favourite way to procrastinate
Chillabit is building a new way for students to connect, one university at a time. We sat down with Co-founder, Kyle Kaiser, to learn about Chillabit’s startup journey from inception, to Y Combinator, to Velocity.
“Students love Chillabit,” Kaiser begins. The app is built around humorous and relatable content that is created by students, for students, inspired by a shared experience the founders felt strongly about.
“It was a problem we all faced. We found that we were all really connected with our friends, thanks to apps like Snapchat. But, there wasn’t a good way to connect with people around us, people in our school, our classmates, our peers.”
So they created Chillabit, an app that connects students across campus to one another through fun, relatable content and a shared student experience. Plus, an official email address from the university is required, which ensures that everyone taking part in the app is truly a student at the university.
The app was first launched in a few schools in western Canada and has since spread to nine schools across the country, most recently launching at the University of Waterloo. Chillabit was part of Y Combinator’s winter 2016 cohort in California, where rapid growth was the main focus.
“At Y Combinator, you have a set end date: Demo Day. And you know exactly how many days, how many hours, how many minutes, how many seconds, until demo day. And it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to pitch to essentially a world of investors, which makes it very easy to raise money. So you know that you have to push things as hard as you can, and grow as quickly as you can. Because that’s what’s going to get you noticed on demo day.”
While they were at Y Combinator, Chillabit pushed their limits and left with some impressive stats. Their users are incredibly engaged in their app, with the average user spending almost an hour a day on Chillabit (which is more than the averages of Instagram and Snapchat combined). Their top 10% of users are on the app for almost three hours a day. Chillabit’s goal is to not only become a social app that students use regularly, but to become students’ favourite app.
Kaiser believes that looking after your mental health as an entrepreneur is important, so after returning from Y Combinator, the Chillabit team restructured their efforts to focus on strategic initiatives. “When you’re sprinting, some things are going to slip,” Kaiser shared. Given the seasonal nature of their app, they were able to use the summer season as a time to focus on long term goals.
Kaiser reflected on how being at Velocity has helped Chillabit grow. “At the end of the day, all great companies are not built in isolation, it’s all about the environment that you’re in. Velocity has been an amazing environment, just to be surrounded by other likeminded people who are really passionate about startups. It has been invaluable in helping shape the company, and how we think about things.”