Abbie Anderson poses with a mobile phone. The name of her app, Clyk, is shown behind her

Alum-founded business and app aims to help students find their ‘Clyk’

An app, in development by Abbie Anderson, B.S. ’23, has also won a first-place prize of $10,000 in the college edition of “Greenlight Maine"

Hungry? There’s an app for that.

Lost on a Maine backroad? There’s an app for that, too.

But feeling lost or lonely on campus? Now there’s Clyk, a new social media platform that aims to connect college students to each other and their campus by encouraging students meet others with similar interests, discover new hobbies and activities, and explore new places on and off campus.

Pioneered by recent University of New England graduate Abbie Anderson, B.S. ’23 (Sustainability and Business), Clyk is aimed to empower its users to get off of their phones and go meet, in person, those they connect with on the platform.

Abbie Anderson poses for a portrait. The name of her app, Clyk, is shown behind her

Abbie Anderson, B.S. ’23

The app was inspired by Anderson’s own collegiate experience. With her sophomore year uprooted by the coronavirus pandemic, Anderson found it hard to make lasting connections with other students.

“It was in the midst of the pandemic, and I was feeling lost and isolated from campus and my peers,” she described of her experience. “I felt I would’ve benefited from having a support system sooner, so I thought of ways to help students feel more connected, not only to each other but campus, as well.”

The idea to start an app, appropriately, just “clicked,” Anderson said.

When logging onto Clyk, students are organized into group channels based on their interests, hobbies, and passions. For example, a vegan student may be able to use the platform to find other vegan students to share recipes and, eventually, gather to cook a meal. Students can also scroll through a feed that displays upcoming events as well as updates from their connections.

Pictured are four phone screens showing the working designs of the Clyk user interface

Concept designs for the Clyk user interface, courtesy of Clyk.

The app also has the added benefit of providing universities with insight into their students’ interests, which can help inform the types of events and initiatives they sponsor. Anderson said her market research — including interviews with representatives from over 40 colleges and universities — showed that, post-COVID, attendance was down at university sponsored events.

“Post-pandemic, students changed the way that they were connecting,” she said. “Hallmark events used to define campus culture, but students just stopped attending. Soon, there weren’t big pivotal moments at universities that brought all their students together, and student affairs departments didn't really understand why that was happening. Clyk is the answer to that.”

Anderson said UNE will be the first university to pilot Clyk as a campus community-building tool this fall. 

Others, including some of the state’s top business owners, have seen the impact the app can have for students — not just in Maine, but nationwide. 

On Thursday, July 6, Anderson was announced as the winner of the eighth season of the “Greenlight Maine” College Edition, taking home the televised pitch competition’s top prize of $10,000 to spearhead development of her business plan. 

Since 2019, more than a dozen UNE students have been featured either in “Greenlight Maine” competitions or spinoff series. In 2020, alum Jillian Robillard, B.S. ’20 (Marine Entrepreneurship) won the college edition’s grand prize for her business “Green Bait.”

With the prize money, Anderson has hired a software engineering firm to develop Clyk on the back end, and she’s employed a user experience designer to polish the app’s user interface.

“I’ve been preparing for ‘Greenlight Maine’ over the past year, so seeing it all come together and pay off felt like I have a real shot at making this company work,” she said. “As a first-time entrepreneur and businesswoman, it is incredibly validating to see that other people believe in me and my product, too. It feels like a real full-circle moment.”

Anderson said the curricular experiences she had at UNE — as a Shaw Innovation Fellow, creator in the P.D. Merrill Makerspace, and student in the College of Business — gave her the skills necessary to form her startup.

She also said mentorship and coaching from faculty, trustees, and local business leaders gave her the confidence she needed to find her voice and succeed as a woman in business.

Watch: “Greenlight Maine” College Edition Season 8 Finale

View the entire season eight finale of the “Greenlight Maine” College Edition, in which Abbie Anderson, B.S. ’23 (Sustainability and Business), takes home the top prize for her app Clyk, which is now in development.

Among others, she thanks UNE Trustees Ford Reiche, J.D., and Justin Schair, MBA; David Engle, founder of Upright Labs; David Evans Shaw, HON ’22, founder of IDEXX Laboratories; John Austin, Ph.D., interim dean of the College of Business and P.D. Merrill Endowed Chair of Business at UNE; Justin Bassett, M.S., director of Innovation and the P.D. Merrill Makerspace; Mike Sheldon, PT, D.P.T., associate provost for Academic Affairs; and Ed Cervone, director of Business Development for UNE Online, for helping encouraging her to pursue her passions.

“The guidance these mentors have given me is invaluable, and having that kind of support system, especially as a female entrepreneur, opens a lot of doors and opportunities for me and really helps ensure that I'm going to be successful and that the business as a whole will grow,” she said.