UMD Grad, Entrepreneur Develops App Aimed to Tackle ‘Loneliness Epidemic’

Taylor Holt
Updated: April 19, 2019 06:32 PM

The outside of the building at 2601 E. 2nd St. in Duluth may look like your typical, yet beautiful historic building, but on the inside of the home once owned by Sinclair Lewis, a plethora of modern ideas are being created.

Nathan Lipinski is the CEO of MC-Cubed, one of Duluth’s newest start-ups. It’s home is on the top floor of the building.

“MC-Cubed is a mobile application development and idea think tank,” said Lipinski.

It’s also where their newest app, Platonic, is being born out of.

“Dating apps are for dating. Facebook is great for the friends you already have and Twitter is for people who don’t have anybody to text so we wanted to make something that was super activity-driven,” said Lipinski.

That’s the point of the friendship app, to connect people through mutual interests. How it works is pretty simple. You go into the app and chose between two categories: active or social.

“So let’s say we want to be social, you click the social link and there are four sub-categories. We have night life, food and drinks, games and movies, and sight-seeing,” Lipinsi explained.

You then enter a headline of what you’re interested in doing, and just like that you’re connected with others who want to do the same thing. Lipinksi showed us an example on his computer for somebody who was visiting New York City.

“So she (this example) wants to do an exhibit in Chelsea, see the Statue of Liberty, and do a film festival in Soho,” he said From that entry, several mutual connections were found. “It looks like we have two Snapchats, two Linkedin connections and one Instagram connection,” he said continuing to show the app.

He says the app is aimed at tackling the “loneliness epidemic.”

“As a medical student, I saw firsthand that loneliness is an equal opportunity offender,” Lipinski said.

Trace Drechsler, a UMD graduate and one of six employees for the company says he’s seen it as a student, as well.

“As a student often times, you don’t know anybody so you meet people in the dorms, a lot of students go out to parties to meet people and that’s probably not the best way to do it,” said the Product Design Engineer for MC-Cubed.

The app is completely free, but they plan to make money from it in several ways, including producing valuable data that attracts other companies. Lipinski pitched the app in front of Governor Walz earlier this week for additional investment support.

“I think it was really awesome because we’re actually tackling a real issue and the Governor’s kind of main tagline is investing in the people,” said Lipinski. “Every four years, we lose about 1,800 individuals due to a lack of opportunities.”

So, he says they are hoping to keep hiring local people to add to their staff of UMD students or graduates.

As for the app, they’ll work on fixing bugs and getting ready for the launch date, and the projects are far from over. He’s already started developing his next app.

“This app is for the 18 to 34 demographic, so we’ll kind of be building (another app) for a demographic of 55 to 70 and that app is called Silverware,” he said.

“Leave it up to a Minnesota company to make app for friendship right?  Minnesota nice,” said Drechsler.

People can get the Platonic app on the App Store or Google Play on June 1st. More information on the app or MC-Cubed can be found on their website.

(copied from