UA grad launches app in iTunes store - Tucson News Now

UA grad launches app in iTunes store

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A University of Arizona graduate is making waves with a smart-phone app that helps college students meet up more easily. We told you about "Ufree" earlier this year. Now, the app is launching, and its founder is in the running to be named Entrepreneur Magazine's College Entrepreneur of the Year.

"I worked a year nonstop and the product is out," Ufree's founder, Stephen Ost said. "It just shows you've got to do it, don't hesitate."

Ost graduated from UA in May with a degree in computer science. Since last August, Ost has been working to develop Ufree, which lets users create private circles of friends who can see instantly when someone is available to hang out. It is a "big risk," Ost says, but one he was willing to take. Ost turned down a job at IBM to be his own unpaid boss.

The app launched today in Apple's iTunes store where it is available for a free download. Ost says his app is different from other social networks.

"You look at Facebook, you look at Twitter, you need hundreds of thousands of people to make it useful," Ost said. "With Ufree, it is designed to be ten close friends, 20 close friends that you feel comfortable sharing your free time with."

Ufree is more personal, more private than other social networking options, Ost says. And, he hopes it will be a money-maker by connecting advertisers with Ost's target market: college students.

Ost knows he is lucky to have support from his family, namely his mom and grandmother. Between family loans, and money from his IBM internship, Ost says he has invested about $45,000 to get Ufree up and running. He lives at Tucson's "Pirate Mansion" as it is known, a collaborative living space for young entrepreneurs. Steve Jobs is Ost's idol.

"I live by his quotes: 'People don't know what they want until you show it to them,'" Ost said. "I show them Ufree and now they know they want it, and that's kind of the situation."

At least he hopes that is the situation. On day one of Ufree's launch, Ost saw both praise and criticism online.

"I am pretty sure Ufree is going to be successful, but there is always that one percent that's like ok, what if it's not?" Ost said.

To learn more about Ufree, visit the following link:

To vote for Stephen Ost in Entrepreneur Magazine's contest, visit the following link:

To download the Ufree app, click the following link:

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