‘Novelty’ attempts new spin on pandemic networking app trend

Aug. 29, 2021, 5:10 p.m.

In anticipation of fall quarter, Stanford Graduate School of Business graduate Geori Koreli MBA ’21 launched Novelty, a mobile social networking app to connect Stanford students throughout the pandemic and ease the transition of the influx of new students to campus.

Many Stanford students have created apps to facilitate communication throughout the pandemic, including Club Cardinal, Lighthouse and Buzz. Silicon Valley is rich with social networking technology. Even so, Koreli said Novelty differentiates itself by its primary purpose of fostering strong and fulfilling relationships and in-person experiences, rather than merely making digital acquaintances.

The idea for Novelty arose from Koreli’s desire to connect with the Stanford community during the pandemic. In a traditional year, classes and clubs provide avenues for connections, but most students lack the time to create relationships, according to Koreli.

“The probability for you to get to know [students] who share your interest is very low, because you’re usually daunted and then don’t follow up,” Koreli said. “So there is no efficient way to make friends outside your primary circle.”

During the pandemic, opportunities to branch out became even more limited. A lack of structured communication made it difficult for students to connect on a personal level, Koreli said, and it became nearly impossible to connect with large groups of people, particularly those with shared interests. 

Koreli, alongside his brother — software and coding developer Nika — observed this inefficiency and founded Novelty, a direct way of meeting new people with a focus on shared values and interests. “It helps people to find their tribe in an efficient manner, without wasting a lot of time and without having FOMO,” Georgi Koreli said.

As of August, 450 Stanford users have joined Novelty, 235 event requests have been sent and 23 activities have occurred across campus since June, according to Koreli.

As a three-time Russian National Wrestling Champion, Koreli kicked off his social networking app’s first event with a “fight night,” uniting members of the Stanford community on Manzanita Field in lighthearted entertainment and charity fundraiser on June 6.

Novelty’s launch brought high stakes for the veteran wrestler and app creator. With the sponsorship of Netflix’s doubling match system, event-goers raised $2,100 for the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Helen Keller International Fund, according to Koreli.

Novelty user and Koreli’s friend Roy Kamar MBA ’21 attended the fight night. “It was a breath of fresh air to see so many people from my Stanford class again that I haven’t seen in a while,” Kamar said.

Unlike traditional apps such as Instagram and Facebook that can tailor feeds toward aesthetics and marketing, Novelty’s unique algorithm enables users to create their selections and guarantee shared interests, Kamar added.

Novelty’s direct messaging system is broken down into three categories that enable event coordinators to track interest and accept or deny requests, according to Koreli. The first features events for the public, including pick-up sports and other large gatherings. The second is RSVP, which can be utilized for club events or popular group activities. Finally, private events tailor requests to specific interests which require a specific skillset or interest.

Kamar hosted a barbecue through Novelty, where he was able to view the attendees list and utilize the in-app payment feature to charge an upfront fee for groceries and supplies.

“It was a bit buggy at first, but then they tried to fix that,” Kamar said. As usership increases, the Koreli brothers plan to continue to fix any issues that arise.

Koreli added the importance of networking, both for his app users and for himself as an entrepreneur. He strategically connects with popular locations on campus — including businesses, restaurants and event centers — to merge what people love most with where they enjoy spending their time. 

The Koreli brothers anticipate that students’ return to campus in the fall will bring welcomed traffic to their app. 

Incoming frosh Matthew Charles ’25 looks forward to using Novelty as a “resource that will help ease my transition to life at Stanford.” The Novelty team intends to expand into the surrounding area, and app creators hope to eventually connect graduates as they enter the work world.

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