Creative App Inventors

Houston inventors create app that makes life at big university more manageable

Houston inventors create app to help make big university seem smaller

Kickit Inventors Eric Ngo and Ashar Malik

Eric Ngo and Ashar Malik demonstrated Kickit in Austin at Longhorn Start Up Demo Day. Courtesy photo

Just about anyone would agree that making plans, arranging events, and trying to fit in at a nearly 60,000-student university would leave you feeling a bit overwhelmed, right? Think again. Houston natives and rising seniors at the University of Texas, Eric Ngo and Ashar Malik, have created an app called Kickit that changes the way students are able to interact with one another.

Kickit allows students not only to connect with each other, but also with the community. Whether it’s to play a game of volleyball, find a study-buddy, or simply to grab a bite to eat, the new app aims to make the university feel smaller by connecting people with similar interests without extensive planning.

“The app works similarly to SnapChat,” Ngo explains. The events created can either be shared privately to individual users, like an individual SnapChat, or can be shared publicly, like a MyStory, in which all Kickit users are reached.

Ngo and Malik, who both graduated from Cypress Lakes High School, drew inspiration from personal experiences and joined forces to create the app roughly a year ago.

For Ngo, a physics major, it was the culture shock of transferring into such a large university as a sophomore. “Freshman year, they pamper you. Then once you become the sophomore, it seems like they just say ‘good luck,’ and forget about you," he says.

For Malik, an electrical and computer engineering major, it was a passion for pick-up volleyball games where turn-outs were inconsistent that led to the app idea. "Sometimes I would show up for volleyball and people would be there. Other times, there would be no one," he says.

The two understood the feeling of being “overwhelmed trying to see what’s around,” according to Malik, so they created a “hub to easily find out what’s going on” that would soon be known as Kickit.

But what makes this app so unique?

“So many social media apps keep users on their phones and take away from spending actual time with the people you care about," Malik explains. Kickit does just the opposite as it encourages in-person meet ups, making it fundamentally different.

“Standard social media is like a window,” Malik says, because it only lets you look briefly into lives of people around you. “Kickit is like a door," as it allows students to enter each other’s lives and experience the community together.

Ngo and Malik say they hope to give UT students the best experience possible and to eventually expand the app to multiple schools across the country.

The app is available for download for iPhone and Android.