Hallspot: A new social media site for college students set to launch at Oregon

University of Oregon senior Sean Thorne was sitting in a marketing class last November when he took a moment to check Facebook and Twitter on his smart phone.

He saw ads. He saw posts from high school friends attending other colleges. He saw content that didn’t interest him. What he wanted was to connect with his college community.

“All that matters to me is my college friends,” he said.

Thus was born Hallspot, a new social media site designed strictly for college students. Thorne and his Hallspot co-founder Adam Tirella are planning to launch the new site at the UO on Sept. 27, just before the start of fall term.

Thorne, who attended high school in Albany, Calif., is a senior majoring in Economics with a Business minor. Tirella, who attended Onteora High School in Boiceville, N.Y.,  graduated in June with double major in Planning, Public Policy and Management, and Geography. Both said their experience at the UO helped prepare them to launch their new venture.

Tirella, Hallspot’s lead designer,  said his geography degree helps him appreciate “the importance of one’s place and surroundings, which I think is echoed by the core mission of Hallspot — connecting students to the world around them by helping them share, discover, and explore their campus community.”  

Thorne said his time at the UO has helped him mature as a person, and given him the confidence to “go out and take a risk and make something happen.”

To date, 6,300 UO students have pre-registered for Hallspot. All that’s needed to sign up is a uoregon.edu email address (faculty and staff addresses are blacklisted, Thorne said). Each college will have its own network. The result will be content that’s local and relevant to a particular campus community, Thorne said.

Hallspot will include a real-time map feature called “Happening Here,” that shows what friends are doing and what events are happening around campus at any given moment, and suggests what users could be doing based on what they already do  — like how Netflix suggests movies based on movies people already watched, he said.

“College students suffer from FOMO — fear of missing out,” Thorne said.

Thorne and Tirella have raised about $400,000 in seed money from investors, including $6,300 in cash and services for winning the concept round of the annual Willamette Angel Conference. They’ve leased about 2,000 square feet of office space in downtown Eugene, and hired six full-time employees, plus 5 interns.

Thorne and Tirella have big plans for Hallspot. If and when the network is proven and established at the UO, Thorne and Tirella plan to move next to Oregon State University, then to the rest of the Pac-12 conference, and then the rest of the nation, and ultimately, the world.

— Tim Christie