WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Nigel Davis, a 24-year-old from Boynton Beach, has a new, but old school approach to social media. It’s all about real interaction.
“It just kind of evolved into what it is now,” he said.
Davis is a software engineer by day at Microsoft. He’s also the CEO of Grapevine Campus, a social media platform that he created, in his off-time.
“This is a place you can find those people you vibe with on campus, connect with them, and then like take that into the real world,” he explained.
Davis grew up in Palm Beach County and is spending time on South Florida college campuses. At first the social media app was a way for students to find out about what’s going on around them.
“The pandemic is what caused us to shift from that event perspective to supporting students in the way that they needed it, because there were no events going on,” said Davis. “Everything went to zero.”
The shift went from event-based social media to battling mental healthy issues and isolation, all of which he said, was prevalent for college students.
Janelle Rolle, a law student at University of Florida, said the social media platform helped her find friends during the pandemic.
“It gives you a sense of community which is a really big part of preventing mental health issues,” she said. “Having something that you could see other people that were like you and doing things that you would like to do. You could meet them outside, outside of residence halls outside of the classroom which was only virtual. It was really helpful.”
The goal of the app is to have people meet digitally on their smart phones but then move the interaction off the app and face to face.
“Social media is a thing a lot of people are trying to detox from, and we don’t want you to be spending 20 hours of your day scrolling through a feed. We want you to get on Grapevine, connect with somebody, and take it off the platform and connect in real life,” he said.
It’s a helping hand in finding common ground and community as a student.
“The biggest part of the app is it is based upon communities. There are tons of communities. Black culture, LGBTQ, Asian American, foodies,” said Davis. “We’ve noticed for students especially from underrepresented communities that it is a big thing and that can lead to mental health issues for students.”
Davis said he plans to add more college campuses in Florida.