Michael Faris had no intention of creating an app until he moved out of his Walsh dorm sophomore year. After rummaging through the dumpsters behind Walsh Hall, the number of valuable items he found in the trash shocked him. Hoping to combat this wastefulness, Faris channeled his frustration and created an online campus marketplace to eliminate waste, effectively kick-starting his app Campi.
Though Campi started with the goal of eliminating material waste from college campuses, Faris said it quickly expanded to include more features. He now aims to foster a private virtual community for every college campus.
“You can sign in with your educational institution email, and you come in, and you get linked with only people that are from your university,” Faris, CSOM ’23, said. “And within that virtual space, you can do things like exchange goods and services.”
After he thought of the idea for Campi, Faris said he reached out to two of his friends, Bobby Wittman, CSOM ’25, and Maddy Divino, MCAS ’23, who were immediately on board. Wittman currently serves as the director of underclassman affairs and Divino serves as the director of marketing strategy for the app.
Faris said the next year of his life was characterized by lots of sleepless nights as he learned how to code and developed the Campi app, which launched on the Apple App Store about two months ago. Campi has received about 1,500 downloads across 20 different universities, according to Faris.
In addition to noticing material waste on campus, he said the Campi team also observed how hard it is for student organizations to advertise their events. Faris recalled looking at event posters lining the walls in O’Neill Library and seeing groups promote events on the Quad, but he said these methods tend to be ineffective in boosting attendance. So, the four sections of Campi—news, events, groups, and the marketplace—were inspired by the team’s observations and personal experiences at Boston College, Faris said.
“There’s no one platform that offers all four of those, and I don’t think there’s one platform that offers even three of those,” Faris said. “So there’s lots of group apps. There’s lots of events apps, but none of them integrate the four things that we thought were most important.”
Besides its unique number of features, Wittman said Campi allows college students to share their interests in a more casual setting than an official club. The groups and events features on Campi allows students to optimize their college experience by connecting them to a wider variety of activities and people, Wittman said.
He gave a hypothetical example of a student who really loves to play soccer but did not make it onto the school or club team. Instead, Wittman said, they could join the Campi soccer group and play with other students in their free time.
“That way, you can make the most out of your college experience by meeting people that you wouldn’t without the app, or going to events that you wouldn’t even know existed if the app wasn’t on your phone,” Wittman said.
The Campi team has launched several initiatives to publicize their app within the BC community. In September, when Faris heard the Student Organization Funding Committee ran out of money for the rest of the semester, Campi launched a $5,000 campus activity grant to provide student organizations—such as dance groups that still needed to buy costumes—with an alternative source of funding. Faris and Wittman said this initiative aligns perfectly with Campi’s mission to maximize resources for college students.
“The goal is to just give clubs the ability to throw things and have events that they wouldn’t be able to have without the campus grant,” Wittman said.
The team has also held a range of events on the BC campus to promote Campi. Faris said his team has held fun competitions and gives out food on the Quad once or twice a week. In addition to these smaller events, Campi also hosted “Mods Got Talent,” a talent show in the Mods with a $250 gift card prize for the winner. Many groups, including dance teams and a cappella groups, performed. The audience chose the winner by voting on the Campi app, which Divino said effectively boosted app downloads.
Though Wittman said Campi’s marketing has been successful, he said creating enough “buzz” to encourage students to join the app is now the team’s greatest challenge.
“It’s just a matter of getting people onto it, so they can see the value that it brings them, and it’s really cool to watch people start to interact with it and like use it for what it’s meant for,” he said.
Watching people download the app is the most gratifying part of the Campi team’s work, Divino said. Specifically, she said the “Mods Got Talent” event was her favorite moment in her Campi experience so far because she was able to see her peers download and enjoy the app.
“I was watching the audience of people basically lighting up, and people were sending pictures and jokes,” Divino said. “All these people who, most of them didn’t really know each other before, and now they’re all in this giant group chat.”
Faris and Wittman also said it’s rewarding to see fellow students realize Campi is a valuable resource.
“Our mission is to inspire moments of connection and community,” Faris said. “And you know, we did it that night. It was just a great thing to see.”
In addition to holding events at BC, the Campi team also launched an on-campus internship program. The interns work with the team members to improve the app. Faris said the Campi team tries to play to each interns’ individual strengths, including coding, marketing, and writing. Divino said this internship program is a reflection of the Campi team’s goal to continue making the app better because Faris is working to push out new updates almost every week based on the interns’ feedback.
Looking forward, Faris said the team’s main goals are to continue increasing downloads, expanding to more college campuses, and getting more student groups onto the app.
“Our main goal right now for the BC campus is to get every single event going through our application,” Faris said. “So anyone at any time can see what’s going on.”
Eventually, Faris said the Campi team wants to involve multiple local businesses with the app. Campi just announced their partnership with Crazy Dough’s Pizza, for example, where they will offer different deals and discounts through the app, Faris said.
Faris said Campi hopes to continue pushing out frequent updates and adding new features to fulfill his vision for the app, deepening the connections between all types of BC students.
“We just don’t want anyone to feel left out or disconnected,” Faris said. “Especially new people, like freshmen, that are coming into BC who might not know where to look for everything.”