Black tech entrepreneur wants to change social media experience with Inpathy app

Ziarekenya Smith has spent the last six years designing and building the app to reduce negative stigmas and enhance understanding in online interactions

A new social app, Inpathy, wants to transform how people use social media. Rather than only posting the highlight reels of one’s life, the app encourages users to be transparent and share the not-so-great moments as well.

Founder Ziarekenya Smith has spent the last six years designing and building the app to reduce negative stigmas and enhance understanding in online interactions. The platform’s purpose, according to Smith, is to “recreate the human experience” and to build a more balanced atmosphere online.

This Black-led social platform is being developed at a critical time when more conversations are taking place about how social media is affecting mental health. Inpathy wants to make a difference by making people feel comfortable with sharing both their ups and downs online.

(Credit: Ziarekenya Smith)

“We all have experiences that can cause a range of emotions. We’re not just happy all the time, so why are we just showing the wins? That’s not reality,” Smith told theGrio.

Prior to starting the company, the Detroit native was an established design artist who freelanced for major brands like Nike, Air Jordan, and Bleacher Report. Despite his success, the 30-year-old says he came to a crossroads after college. 

He experienced feelings of anxiety and self-doubt while trying to figure out his purpose and wanted to express that on social media, but chose not to. Smith says he felt he could only use the platforms to share the good things happening in his life. That internal struggle is what set the foundation for creating Inpathy. 

“Social media is not going nowhere. So, we can complain about it, or we can help to change the core of it and that’s what I am doing with Inpathy,” he explained.

The tech startup wants to inspire people to be themselves as they get to know others on the app, share their personal experiences, and speak freely on a social network where bullying, racism, and hate speech is not allowed. 

On Inpathy, instead of sharing stories through pictures or words, users share via audio or video, providing what Smith hopes will be an immersive experience. As soon as you log in, the app will ask you how you’re feeling. Users have the option to update their moods and choose words like happy, helpful, angry, insecure, hurt, and more. 

(Credit: Inpathy)

Additionally, people can’t “follow” other users on Inpathy like they can on other social media platforms. Instead, they can add individuals to their “circle” by sending text or audio answers to other people’s stories, or by direct messaging them to see how they’re doing. 

According to Smith, this is not a mental health app, but a social media app with a goal to normalize discussion about moods and the human experience built on authenticity and transparency.

“You may be going through a frustrating day or experiencing a certain emotion. But guess what, you’re not the only one—other people are as well,” Smith shared. “This is important so people can realize, it’s not just me. This is normal. There’s relief in that.”

The startup is on track to launch the beta version of the app soon, but first has to meet its fundraising goal of $250,000 to complete development and expand its team. Those who donate $10 or more to Inpathy will receive an exclusive invite to its beta version once the company meets its funding goals. 

 “Inpathy is for everybody, it’s free, and it’s available in your pocket and I believe that’s a vision worth betting on and I believe that’s a vision worth investing in,” he said.

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