Social media app for well-being launches exclusively at Baylor

Naborly is pioneering a new take on social media, one which puts well-being at the forefront and focuses on being a positive force in the social media world. Camie Jobe | Photographer

By Kalena Reynolds | Staff Writer

Amid a social media frenzy, Matt Rowbotham and his co-founders have created a social media platform that’s not your typical scroll-and-like format. Naborly is designed to improve users’ mental well-being, and it’s launching exclusively at Baylor.

A London native, Rowbotham has worked in the tech industry for more than 10 years, building apps, websites and digital products. For two years, he designed and executed a London-based app for young adults of faith, which became the blueprint for Naborly.

“We started learning about the amount of time young people are spending not only on their smartphone but on social media,” Rowbotham said. “We started seeing lots of statistics about the impact of mental health from spending so much time on social media and spending so much time on your smartphones.”

Due to the impact of social media, Rowbotham said there is an “anti-social media” trend where users have begun deleting their social media apps entirely. Nonetheless, he and his team have continued their journey with Naborly because they feel it fills a gap in social media.

“The problem with social media in its current form is that the social aspect has been kind of lost,” Rowbotham said. “So now, when you go through Instagram and it’s all about the highlights of where you travel to or where you vacation, it doesn’t paint a very realistic picture of what’s happening with your friends.”

Naborly, which is designed to fix this problem, has been in beta testing for the past few months.

“The goal of [Naborly] is to help people become much more aware of their own well-being, their friends’ well-being and their friends’ headspace and to basically help each other become better neighbors,” Rowbotham said. “To know when a friend is struggling or there’s a friend who needs someone to reach out to, but also to celebrate the good stuff that’s happening in life as well.”

While creating the app, Rowbotham and his team discovered that the most prominent social media platforms were launched on a college campus, so they decided to do the same. Naborly will launch at Baylor on April 2.

“To be honest, there wasn’t any great science behind Baylor,” Rowbotham said. “We just prayed about it as a team. We said, ‘Look, we feel like we need to launch on a campus somewhere. Where would be a good place to do that?’ And we just felt like Baylor was the right place.”

Pearland senior Josh Nation, a campus ambassador for Naborly, met Rowbotham in January when he reached out and invited him to a meeting over coffee. During the meeting, Rowbotham showed Nation the app and explained what the company was about before bringing him onto the team.

“He started to tell me about the app that he’s working on called Naborly, and it really seemed like, between who he was as a person and what the app promised and the purpose that it served, it was just something that felt very applicable to my life,” Nation said. “It really felt like something I would enjoy spending my time with, and it felt like a great use of my time.”

Nation now curates reels for the Naborly Instagram account, in which he interviews students around campus with the help of other ambassadors for Naborly.

“We had talked on and off, texting, just trying to get me involved with the app, and then he introduced me to Allie, who I work alongside,” Nation said. “I don’t want to call her my cameraman, but she’s normally behind the camera while we interview people, and she helps with the editing and all that, so she’s great.”

Nation said the goal of Naborly is to give communities a place to share their mental health with one another.

“I’m the vice president of Global Business Connect in the business school, and I feel that a lot of times in general meetings, we haven’t talked about how we feel to each other,” Nation said. “I feel like people have vented to me just about their life and what they’re going through, so I feel like if we all had a dedicated place to do that, we all relate better and just kind of understand each other a little more. But I’d say overall, it’s a place where pretty much everyone can go, but kind of focusing on individual groups would be the goal.”

Kalena Reynolds is a sophomore Journalism major from Phoenix, AZ with minors in art history and media management. In her first semester at the Lariat, she is excited to meet new people and continue her love for writing and story telling. Aside from writing, Kalena is also on the equestrian team at Baylor and has a deep love for music and songwriting. After graduation, she plans to go into the music industry.