Over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has often been described by reference to people’s short-term needs. Some western governments introduced restrictions on the lives and livelihoods of their citizens, which drove the media narrative towards people’s immediate desires to visit a bar, see their loved ones, or travel. But the long-term shift the pandemic has provoked in society is often forgotten. For communities such as the student population, recovery to ‘normal’ could last longer than the initial crisis.

@giuseppeantinoro_ is the co-founder of @hoodaapp and believes he has a solution for that community. The app launched to the App Store and Google Play in early 2022 and performs a valuable function for students in need of a more ‘normal’ social life. Additionally, Hooda boasts improvements over the likes of Bumble, making it more student-friendly and less relationship-centric. Beneath it all is a noble aim to tackle student loneliness and offer a way out to those stuck in a pandemic headspace.

Simple yet effective in its design, Hooda is currently available to students at Leeds Beckett University and the University of Leeds in the UK (founders Giuseppe and Ross saw the city as a solid starting point). Users register with a university email address –  a vital element of the app’s strategy to avoid fraud – and link their social media accounts to their profile. Antinoro’s ace in the hole is that his app operates in real-time and allows students to seek out like-minded individuals currently located in a set radius. Beyond its value in the prevention of catfishing, it catalyzes the process for those looking for immediate human connection.

The standout aspect of Hooda is its dedication to solving a deep-rooted problem. Its founders believe that COVID-19 has had a long-term impact on the development of student social circles, touting alarming statistics on loneliness in universities. By building upon the work of its contemporaries, Hooda could hold many of the answers to a crippling issue for one of society’s forgotten groups.

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