A Milwaukee startup is making it easier to connect with friends during the COVID recovery.

bLinkup is a social app that uses geolocation to notify users when friends are nearby and displays crowdsourced data at top rated locations.

The app recently added a new feature called the COVID scale which allows users to score their comfort levels with local businesses’ adherence to social distancing recommendations, masking requirements, and capacity restrictions, as well as other health and safety related measures.

“There’s a real demand for in-person connection,” said bLinkup founder and CEO, Will Bott. “One of the major things holding people back from meeting is a lack of information about where to go. There are other platforms that provide information that the restaurant gives, but no platform provides information that users give. We want to change that because it’s important for people to be able to see crowdsourced data about places as they start to go out again.”

The COVID scale is similar to an Uber five-star rating, Bott added.

An avid rower and coach, Bott launched bLinkup in 2018 after he attended the World Rowing Championships in Florida. While at the event, he kept running into friends in the rowing community but says there wasn’t an easy way to discover which acquaintances were in the area to meet up with them after the games. Other proximity apps, like FindMyFriends and SnapMap, felt too invasive, he said.

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