Queen’s BlackBerry use inspires application

Entrepreneurs develop new application to bridge the gap between social networking and BlackBerry Messenger

Michael La Fleur and Dhynanesh Chaudhari have collaborated to create a new Blackberry application Lynked.
Michael La Fleur and Dhynanesh Chaudhari have collaborated to create a new Blackberry application Lynked.

Two entrepreneurs from Queen’s have partnered to create the Blackberry application Lynked. Launched today, it combines social networking with BlackberryMessenger (BBM).

Michael La Fleur, Lynked creator, and Dhynanesh Chaudhari, MEng ’12, have spent the past four months spearheading the project.

La Fleur said the development of the application has a local focus. The team is using a strategy similar to Facebook, which started among Harvard students.

“We’re really focusing on Kingston and Queen’s for the app and trying to grow it here and seeing if it’ll take off in other areas of the world,” La Fleur said.

Lynked is free and can be found online with Blackberry App World. Once downloaded, it connects with a user’s Facebook account. From here, the user can search for people based on email, location, gender and name. Similar to the ‘People You May Know’ feature on Facebook, Lynked will offer users suggestions on who to add to a BBM contact list.

La Fleur said one of the project’s downfalls is that it will depend on critical mass to be successful. In order for it to link two users, both must have installed the application. In the future, La Fleur said the team may look into a similar application for Android phones, but currently their main focus is the BlackBerry.

“We have limited resources so we have to pick and choose our battles,” La Fleur said.

Instead of notifying friends and contacts of a BBM PIN change, users can simply change their PIN on Lynked, which will inform friends who also have the application. To appeal to privacy issues, PINs are not made public. “We’re not storing a lot of information of our users.

We’re not storing anything we don’t need. All we store is email, name and PINs,” Chaudhari said. “Anything else is temporarily grabbed from Facebook.”

La Fleur, who was a part-time student at Queen’s last year, came up with this idea last summer after recognizing the popularity of BlackBerry among Queen’s students. He contacted Computer Science professors before finding Chaudhari and agreeing to partner together.

La Fleur cannot predict whether Lynked will go viral in a week or take months to become popular, he said, adding that there’s no sign of immediate financial gain. It cost the team $1,500 to create, but took hundreds of hours of labour.

“There may be some monetary value down the line but we’re not in this really to make a boatload of money,” La Fleur said. “We can just only hope people will use it and see value in the service we’re trying to provide.”

—With files from Katherine Fernandez-Blance

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