University of Bristol alumni set to launch friend-finder app to help end loneliness


By Jessie Millson, Co-Deputy News Editor

Lockdown has meant that more and more people have suffered from loneliness in the past year, but two University of Bristol graduates have founded a friend-finding app that links up like-minded strangers.

Inspired by experiences of isolation both during and pre-pandemic, two former Bristol University students have co-founded Fethr, an app that aims to create friendships based on compatible interests and values.

Fethr users fill out a questionnaire about their personality, interests, values, and friendship preferences and the app analyses its users to find matches.

In groups of four to six, they can then choose to take part in any group activities of mutual interest. After their ‘mate-date,’ participants provide anonymous feedback and, if two parties like each other, the app puts them in contact to maintain their friendship.

Fethr emerged from discussions of loneliness between Bristol alumni Julian Issa and Miguel Bravo, along with their flatmate Gerardo Rodriguez.

Julian studied for a MSci in Geography from 2010 to 2014 and his job as a Research analyst then meant he lived in 10 cities over two years, making it difficult to build stable friendships.

Researching this issue, he found that 45% of adults in England feel lonely at least some of the time.

Julian believes that ‘meaningful human connection shouldn’t be such a difficult thing to find in the 21st century,’ and so the group came up with Fethr, a modern solution to a modern problem.

‘There is nothing more exciting than being sat in a hostel and chatting to people from across the world,’ says Julian.

‘However, it’s difficult to recreate that in your normal life. When I was moving to new cities with my old job, I found it difficult to build a community of friends quickly.’

Miguel, who studied Mathematics and Philosophy at Bristol, used his discipline to build a sophisticated algorithm that uses artificial intelligence to match strangers together without the swiping of popular dating apps such as Tinder and Grindr.

The team also drew on research from psychologist Dr Kelly Campbell, one of Fethr’s advisors.

After its successful trial in Sydney, the app is now in the final stages of development. The team of 11 plan to launch Fethr in London on August 17 with plans to roll out to other UK cities, including Bristol, by the end of the year.

For students during lockdown, Fethr could be instrumental in preventing loneliness, with one in five Bristol students planning to move in with strangers in the next academic year.

Miguel says: ‘Bristol gave me the platform to meet many amazing people from different backgrounds to my own, who have been hugely influential in my life and career path - not least my good friend and co-founder Julian.’

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Julian adds: ‘Fethr is going to disrupt the way people socialise.

‘Traditional avenues for making friends continue to be squeezed by the pandemic, working from home and increased digitisation. Now more than ever before, people want it to be easier to make meaningful connections, whether short-term or long-term.’

Making friends at university can be challenging for some, especially in times like the present, and Fethr could become a helping hand for sparking friendships that last.

Sign up for early access to the app at

Featured Image: Fethr / L-R: Fethr co-founders Julian Issa, Miguel Bravo and Gerardo Rodriguez

Would you use an app to help find friends? Let us know!