Launched in April of this year, sp0t is a social media app created by 2019 UNC-Chapel Hill graduates Kenny Barone and Tyler Trocinski. The inspiration for sp0t came from their frustration with existing social media platforms. Barone, a Co-Founder and the CEO, wanted to create a positive and fun way to share a person’s favorite locations with other sp0t users.
The app allows people to share their photos or videos with others on the app in nearby areas, since distance plays a huge role in what shows up on a person’s feed.
The app is aiming to create an alternative to current popular social media platforms, which exacerbate the loneliness epidemic and body image issues, Barone said. Instead, sp0t is meant to inspire creativity and a sense of community for its users on its “maps.”
“On sp0t, users can join maps, which are topic-based communities that are very specific to your campus,” Barone said.
Some popular maps at UNC-CH show photos of bugs, animals, and food reviews of popular restaurants near campus.
Many users choose to remain anonymous on the app, often opting for a comedic username. One popular profile name is “Kevin Guskiewicz,” the current chancellor of UNC-CH. (Multiple users can select the same user name, adding to the anonymity.) Other users will only know a person’s identity once they add them as a friend on sp0t.
A “hot maps” page is another feature on the app, showing popular posts, “which enables people to have a sense of pride over the things they create,” Barone said.
Trocinski, a Co-Founder with the title of Graphic Designer, said sp0t is about connecting with people around you who have similar interests.
“Letting people connect with the world around them and making a way of sharing that’s less focused on the self,” Trocinski said, “I think (that will) allow sp0t to expand.”
Barone said the team has pivoted the product multiple times, after releasing a beta version in the fall of 2022 at UNC-CH. With over 1,000 users on the app, Barone and Trocinski plan on launching sp0t to other campuses in the spring of 2024.
Mary Esposito, a rising sophomore at UNC-CH, is a consultant for sp0t. Esposito—also known as the “Gen Z whisperer” by Barone and Trocinski— is a social media influencer with over 100K followers on Tik Tok. Another rising sophomore at the university, Riley Elliot, is sp0t’s content creator and helps to market the app to his peers.
The team is focused on marketing to college students because most universities have close proximities and groups with similar hobbies and interests, Barone said.
The app is currently free on the App Store. By posting often on sp0t, you can unlock more avatars for your profile, and users will be able to pay to customize their avatars in the future.
Barone and Trocinski raised around $80K in the summer of 2022 from investors. They are now looking to VC firms and angel investors for their pre-seed funding round.