Local teenager invents new app to connect people with common interests

KIRKLAND, Wash. -- In the world of social media, many people obsess with how many 'likes' they get or how cool they look to others.
Now, one local high school student is challenging that with a new app.

The app is called Unite and it aims to do just that -- unite the community and help people connect easier and to feel a sense of belonging.

Whether it's basketball or a book club, Unite aims to connect people nearby through common interests.

The creator of the app is Sami Bagbhan, an 18 year-old from Kirkland who is about to graduate from Lake Washington High School.

The app centers around four themes.

“Sports, study, hangout, and start your own event,” Bagbhan said.

Q13 News spoke to a young man who recently downloaded the free app and hosted a Bible study.

“If you like playing chess, you like backgammon, do your thing and you will find someone interested in it rather than everyone has to be the star football player,” Sam Sadeghi said.

Unite launched at the end of May and it already has more than 500 users.

“Something new, something refreshing and it's easy to use,” Massey Hosseini said.

Hosseini is a freshmen at Lake Washington High School and he says the app makes it easier to find friends.

“Some kids from Juanita High School and some other kids in my high school, I have never talked to before; we met at Starbucks and we actually got work done, which was nice,” Hosseini said.

Bagbhan said the idea for the app came from his personal struggles to fit in.

“As a kid I grew up knowing what it’s like to be alone,” Bagbhan said.

He says when he first immigrated to the U.S. as a 10-year-old, finding friends was so tough that at times he would eat lunch in the bathroom.

“No one wants to sit next to me, no one wants to talk to me, they make fun of my accent,” Baghban said.

He hopes his creation will make it easier for others to feel like they belong; it starts with a common interest and an open mind, he said.