Boujè: A Different Way to Look at Social Media

Department of Computer Science & Engineering B.S. student Apekshik Panigrahi and his business partner, Madhan Mohan, launched a  new social media application, Boujè. The debut product of Panigrahi's company, Aster!sk Inc., Boujè flips traditional social media on its head -  your friends control your account and vice versa.

Boujè logo

Back in winter 2022, Panigrahi decided to create an app as a side hobby. He was inspired to focus on a social media app, believing that the original social media platforms are currently on the decline. Social media has given rise to new mental health issues despite originally providing an oasis for people to take a break from the stresses of life. After looking at the different problems with social media, he decided his app would shift the concept of social media from something that is only centered around the user to something that is centered around friendships. Boujè users can post on their friends’ accounts rather than posting about themselves on their own account, putting an emphasis on causal interactions rather than aesthetics and image. After about two weeks of coding, Panigrahi launched the app with his friends.

“Essentially our goal is to make people happier,” said Panigrahi. “The only way you can post on this platform is if you go and spend time with your friends in real life. So it encourages you to actually be with people. We are getting a lot of positive feedback from a small group of users we've been trying it on, and they love it a lot. We're excited to push it to more people. ”

With two mechanical engineers for parents, Panigrahi has always been around hardware and was fascinated by the electrical side of computers after watching his dad work with computers. He is also fascinated with the brain and how brains are similar to computers. While he had some coding experience before coming to the University of Minnesota, Panigrahi credits his independent study with Professor Maria Gini and his work with his classmates for his entrepreneurial spirit.

“The University has provided a place where I can see and observe how people interact with the computer science world, both working on their own projects and collaborating in a group environment,” said Panigrahi. “I think seeing the excitement that others have inspired me more than just the academic experience.”

Throughout his independent study, Panigrahi acted like a start-up company, editing and refining the project with feedback from live users.

“I believe the key is moving fast and actually shipping something even though it's not perfect,” said Panigrahi. “People are afraid of what others are going to think about the product when it’s released. The point is, it's not going to be perfect, you have to accept it. There will be good stuff  and bad stuff, but you need to take the bad stuff and make it good.” 

Moving forward,  Panigrahi and Mohan are hoping to reach more undergraduate students and continue to test and refine the app.

“Starting up a new app is a very irritative process, just like programming,” said Panigrahi. “You keep debugging, keep breaking down things that are not good and essentially work at it and things start clicking. The only way you'll get that information is actually putting it in front of your users and seeing what their response is.”

Learn more about the Boujè app and download it in the app store on your smartphone.

QR code for Boujè app