Introducing ‘SWOP’: the newest way to meet people in Cambridge

The Tab spoke to Rebecca and Sophia, co-founders of ‘SWOP,’ the app that may just revolutionise the Cambridge social scene

Have you ever complained about how difficult it is to meet people at other colleges? Are you fed up with one-on-one dates? Do you want to join a Cambridge society? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, then you’ll be interested in the new free app “SWOP,” which is launched September 29th  exclusively for Cambridge students on the App Store and Google Play.

With over 30,000 views on the “letsswop” Tiktok and collaborations with La Vida at Lola Lo’s (the new Sunday Life), and Wednesday Sports Night, the app already has garnered a lot of attention. The Tab spoke to the co-founders and CEOs of SWOP, Cambridge alumni Rebecca McNeill and Sophia Arora ahead of the app launch a couple of weeks ago.

What is SWOP?

Free to download, SWOP allows you to create, join and match with groups of friends or societies. Those that select the option to make their profile public can then “match” with other groups through a deck of cards function. With an algorithm that prioritises groups by mutual friends and interests, the app is like Tinder for organising swaps and group hangouts.

Sophia and Rebecca seem to have thought of everything as the app includes a calendar, venue options to organise a swap and will soon include drinking game ideas to break the ice.

As former presidents of the Cambridge Law and Consulting Societies, the co-founders also designed the app with societies in mind, as admins are able to approve group join requests and have the option to create a secret group.

The SWOP app allows groups of Cambridge students to match with each other and plan a swap (Images credits: Sophia Arora and Rebecca O’Neil)

Breaking down the exclusivity of Swaps

The app has three missions:

  1. Helping freshers meet people by creating a group (e.g. with your staircase) and matching with other groups and hang out.
  2. To date in a casual setting, where you can meet potential partners surrounded by friends.
  3. To increase the ease of organising groups and societies.

Sophia described how the app also offers a new and more simple way to plan swaps, which are traditionally organised between societies as an evening group social.

Rebecca added swaps have often been associated with sports and exclusive societies but through the app, they’re looking to make this form of socialising “inclusive and open to everybody.”

More friends (for Girtonians)?

Though the college-based system has many benefits, one of its drawbacks is that it makes it more difficult to make friends across colleges. The matching feature on SWOP promises to possibly bridge these gaps. With some colleges being more isolated than others, I had to ask how Girtonians might benefit from the app. 

Having graduated from Girton College this summer, Rebecca laughed at this question, replying that they might have to include “some sort of transport service” booking option for Girtonians. She added that Girton is a very social college, and if many Girton students download the app then she would want to put some more venue options close to the college. Finally, Girtonians don’t need an Uber to be included in the social life of Cambridge…

However, distance from the town centre is not the only thing that’s proved a barrier to socialising this year. Rebecca revealed that another one of the key motivations to create the app was the difficulty to meet people over various lockdowns and the high incidence of student loneliness. 

She described how, after seeing her sister start university last year under restrictions, she wanted the app “to encourage healthy socialising and meeting people in the city.”

Say goodbye to awkward first dates

After struggling through an “the cringe blind date experiences at Cambridge,” Sophia saw SWOP as an opportunity to eliminate the awkwardness of one-on-one dates. She added that SWOP gives you the “swopportunity” to “meet potential partners authentically in a really comfortable setting,” and if you don’t meet someone “it’s fine, you still had a good night with your friends.”

Sophia also emphasized that getting to know the friend groups of people you might date  “helps you get to know a person a lot faster.” She also described that the app helps organise successful and fun dates “by prioritising matches with similar interests and mutual friends.”

“Catching someone’s eye across the room also brings back some of the romance that has been lost in the Cambridge dating scene through the transactional nature of apps like Tinder.”

Missing the Cindies smoking area?

When we suggested that SWOP was reminiscent of the Cindies smoking area, Sophia and Rebecca exchanged a glance and burst out laughing. Rebecca responded that “it may or may not have been one of the inspirations behind the app.” For her, Swop is “like a cindies smoking area which guides you towards people with similar interests.”

Sophia added that, as the algorithm on the card deck prioritises similar interests and mutual friends, “it’s organic, you’re able to meet people very naturally.”

An app for societies

With experience heading societies, Sophia and Rebecca designed the app to help societies meet other societies too.

They described that “whilst groups might want to keep their settings private meaning people can’t join unless they have a link sent to them, societies may like to be public, available to find on the explore page and able to admit members via a request to the group admin.” From there the society can message internally, and organise swaps with other societies (@varsitynewspaper fancy going to Revs with the Tab?).

Sophia (left) and Rebecca (right) graduated from Cambridge this summer after respectfully completing their studies in History and Politics and Law (Images credits: Sophia Arora and Rebecca O’Neil).

A way to beat O*ford

Does O*ford have an app where you can organise your social and romantic life in one place? As Sophia pointed out, no it certainly does not. Currently, the app has exclusively launched for Cambridge students, and I’m sure it will make the social lives of Cambridge students as well-organised as their supervision timetables.

Keep an eye out on SWOP’s Facebook for applications to be their ambassadors and for the launch party on the 17th of October in Lola Lo’s!

You can download the app for free on the App store or on google play here 

For more information about ambassador roles follow the Swap app on Instagram (swopoffical_), Tiktok (letsswop) or Facebook (SWOP).

Feature image credits: Rebecca O’Neil and Sophia Arora