Student entrepreneur sets out to expand peer support on campus – and around the world

Posted 2022-12-02
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, university students were faced with a unique set of challenges. Not only were they suddenly isolated from friends and family like the rest of the world, many of them were also in an entirely new environment away from their usual support systems, and with limited avenues to make new friends. UBC Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) student Chirag Jadhwani co-founded platform to combat feelings of isolation and help people just like him.

For Jadhwani, the recent passing of his grandmother has been a poignant reminder of the importance of human connection. “I found myself in a situation where I couldn’t really talk about it with someone who gets it. The whole concept of is that when people go through difficult times alone – like I was alone – it doesn’t have to be that way,” he says.

A place to talk to someone is a website – which is also being converted to an app – that asks users to answer personal questions and fill in what they’re hoping to speak with someone about.

The questionnaire covers common struggles such as experiencing anxiety and stress, handling a breakup, and navigating family dynamics. It also asks users to fill in their favourite sports, hobbies, and entertainment medium. It then generates five matches every day for each user.

The platform, which Jadhwani co-founded with fellow UBC Sauder student Tanraj Dhillon, focuses on helping users directly with therapeutics and through tools like journaling and support groups. The app was co-developed with mental health professionals including practicing therapists and faculty members at the UBC Faculty of Medicine. It also offers the assistance of mental health experts from the Canadian Mental Health Association, Alberta Division, who also vetted the app.

To ensure the safety and wellbeing of its users, the app has standards like financial grade security and privacy checks, human moderation of sensitive health connections by trained professionals, and user background checks.

The platform helps universities and hospitals scale up their peer support offerings, and the institutions pay a subscription price to use for their populations.

The interface
The interface


Finding the perfect friend through peer support

Jadhwani says there is a major lack of peer support available for those in need because of the way mental health systems are set up in Canada. Resources are decentralized and demand far outweighs supply. The support that is available isn’t necessarily offered by people going through the same issues, he explains.

“We’ve built this model where we’re making peer to peer matches, which is working very well because people are finding it valuable to talk to someone who’s actually going through the same thing,” says Jadhwani.

He notes that the top five points of connection on the platform are anxiety, stress, burnout, grief, and breakups. “All of these tell us that people are craving a genuine connection. It’s very important that people don’t feel lonely as they go through this.”

Homegrown at UBC

After reading the UBC Wellbeing Annual Report 2020-21 that found a significant percentage of UBC students feel a lack of belonging on campus because they don’t have close, tight friendships, Jadhwani realized that campus was the perfect place to grow their entrepreneurial venture.

UBC not only has a strong potential user base for the platform, it has also supplied valuable mentorship and development to its co-founders. In January 2021, Jadhwani and Dhillon took their idea to venture building program entrepreneurship@UBC.

“What makes entrepreneurship@UBC different is the community – the Entrepreneurs in Residence (EiRs) and other start-up founders are super high calibre and from diverse industries,” says Jadhwani.

Tom Urban is an EiR who has been working with since early 2022. He says he’s been impressed with the company’s dedication to improving people’s mental wellness through consistent and deep human engagement.

“Starting a new venture is difficult and finding’s place in a crowded world of social apps is a challenge but Chirag and Tanraj have risen to that challenge,” says Urban. “By listening to users and consistently integrating their feedback, they have been able to create an experience that is unique and has a significant positive impact on those who choose to engage with” was created to help people foster human connections through online peer to peer matches. was created to help people foster human connections through online peer to peer matches.


Setting sights on scaling up

As for the future of the company, Jadhwani’s vision for five years from now is growing its user database to 100 million people. It’s an ambitious goal but the company is already seeing rapid expansion; they continue to pick up hundreds of users a day, spanning across seven different countries. Jadhwani says the London Community Foundation and the Canadian Mental Health Association, Alberta Division, are championing the app at a provincial level. is also enjoying local uptake. The platform recently formalized a partnership with the UBC Alma Mater Society (AMS) Peer Support, which provides free and confidential peer support for UBC students facing a wide variety of challenges.

“To me, this work feels like a responsibility. Users share their stories with us and it’s our job to do everything we can do to help,” says Jadhwani.