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A social networking app in Montana attempts to increase community interaction



Billings, Montana – The goal of a new social media initiative in Billings is to bring together people who share common interests and pastimes.

“Converge is a privacy-based social network,” said Kevin Scharfe, the Billings-based co-founder and CEO of the app. “We built this because we’ve heard there’s a lot of folks, especially here in Billings, that are really struggling with loneliness. They’re feeling disconnected. It’s really hard for them to find their people.”

Converge’s development began four years ago in Billings, where Scharfe claimed he and his business partner Trevor Hartman had seen other social media platforms turn into “a breeding ground for negativity.” People were developing platform addictions, and the apps were violating people’s privacy.

Scharfe and Hartman just introduced Converge Billings, the first city-based network. People may locate events, classes, groups, and activities taking place in the neighborhood with Converge. The software aims to facilitate in-person interactions between users.

“We have over 55 different interest groups right now. Ranging from hiking groups, there’s a mountain biking group on there. There’s a yoga group, crafting group,” Scharfe said.

Along with challenges for the entire community, the app. They’re doing a scavenger hunt around Billings in May at various stores and trails.

On Thursday, Andrea Hilario and some friends took part in the scavenger hunt at the Shiloh Conservation Area.

“There’s boxes or clues hidden all over Billings. There’s some in stores, but most of them are on trails that you just kind of have to go around and find from the app. They give you all the clues on the app,” said Hilario.

Along with Hilario, Anna Mattie was taking part in the scavenger hunt. In order to obtain points or prizes in the app, they jointly discovered the three unique items buried along the trail. When they located what they were looking for—a box or a word on a sign—they discovered that it included a “password” that had to be entered into the app.

“I’ve lived in this city all my life, but it’s still cool to go to these places I’ve never been to, these businesses I’ve never been to and get to explore them. It’s a way to get out and enjoy it,” Mattie said.

Scharfe reported that after just one week of operation, there has been a lot of participation.

“We currently have over 600 people just here in Billings who are actively using the app. And we have about 80 people who are playing the scavenger hunt game,” Scharfe said.

You can use and download the app for free. “It’s a locally built, locally grown platform,” Scharfe said.


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