When Boston University alum Thomas Andrews was reading through his friend’s extensive volume of diaries from past years, he said he was “so captivated.” This inspired his idea for a new app that archives entries and answers to questions, much like a personal diary.
“I really wanted to find a way that I could have something like that for myself,” Andrews said. “Something that would archive [my thoughts] and something that I can hold on to for years to come to get to know myself better.”
In October, Andrews launched OneQuesh — a social media app where users journal and write their thoughts. He had the idea in 2013 when he was a student at the School of Hospitality Administration, and now it’s available to download in the App Store and Google Play Store.
Andrews said users answer a daily question, and the app keeps track of their responses. Answers from other users are hidden until users respond to the question themselves to avoid having others affect how people answer.
“Finally, I said ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we centralize a question and create that question so it can be used online and offline?’” Andrews said. “We could really merge and build a bridge between our online and offline worlds.”
Although users can’t like or comment on others’ answers on the app, they can connect through other social media platforms linked on other OneQuesh profiles.
“We really created a safe space so your answer to the question will not be able to be subject to any comments, so there’s no liking or no comments,” Andrews said. “There’s just being.”
Andrews said he aims for the app to also help companies and charities tell better stories based on users’ answers.
“We’re really about transparency, and we want to make sure that we’re bringing together a diverse community in an audience so everyone feels represented and their voice can be heard,” Andrews said. “Not just to build products, but to really change the world.”
OneQuesh, he said, hopes to work with companies, like Nike, and charities that want to gain a better awareness of particular issues.
When Andrews worked at BU Orientation as a student advisor, he would ask students one question a day. The idea traveled with him to BU’s London campus, where he worked after graduation — Andrews said he practiced the same exercise with his resident assistants.
However, the app was not in development until May 2020 when the Black Lives Matter movement inspired an “epiphany” in Andrews, he said, that this was the time to launch OneQuesh.
“I looked at myself and said, ‘You know what can I do right now that would or could have the ability to change the world?’” he said.
Alana Ginnard, head of client relations at OneQuesh and Andrews’s childhood friend, said Andrews came to her with the idea for the app at the height of the pandemic.
Ginnard said she enjoys the lack of social pressure on OneQuesh that often comes with other social media apps, that no one is “trying to flaunt this or flaunt that.”
“It’s very pure,” Ginnard added. “When I write a response to a question that we’re asked daily, I don’t do it for anybody else. I do it for myself, and I think that’s something that makes OneQuesh stand out from its competition.”
Andrews said OneQuesh is working with master’s students in the Questrom School of Business on data analytics to discover a way to “deliver the best questions.”
“Questions are a secret sauce,” Andrews said. “We’re always working with our content strategy team to build the best questions.”
Ryan Nickulas, an award-winning hairstylist, public figure and a brand ambassador for OneQuesh, said the app can be used as a form of stress relief for those who are more introverted as a way to process thoughts and write down feelings.
“We want to do it in a way where it’s not a selfie, it’s not a boomerang,” Nickulas said. “We want to actually put our feelings or process our thoughts into words and release them out into the universe because they could help someone at the same time as helping ourselves.”
At OneQuesh, Andrews said he believes that “one question can start a conversation, and one conversation could change the world.”
“We want our users to know that they’re answering in a way that’s going to change the world by being authentically them,” Andrews said. “When you use your authentic voice, and you speak your truth, you have power.”