BY Tara Zanni
Juliana Fetherman is a Sacred Heart University alumna who was invited to Bloomberg Live on Oct. 30 on behalf of her mobile application, Making Authentic Friendships.
“It was totally random,” said Fetherman. “This lady who was verified on twitter tweeted at me and said she was interested in speaking with me about my app, and then the next day called me form California and said Bloomberg in New York City is having a panel event with entrepreneurs on the future of crowdfunding. It was very fast and out-of-the-blue, but I’m so thankful.”
The event was attended by about 200 people, who included investors and executives.
“Bloomberg Live brings together the expertise of the largest newsroom in the world,” according to bloomberglive.com.
“I got a lot of publicity from it. They even had a networking event afterwards, and I got 50 business cards from people who wanted to stay in touch,” said Fetherman.
Fetherman’s application is designed to enable individuals with special needs, ages 13 and up, to make friends. It matches people based upon their geographic location, diagnosis, age and interests.
After the idea came to her, she reached out to Sacred Heart president Dr. John Petillo, who then put her in contact with some professors from the Business School.
Fetherman graduated from Sacred Heart in the spring of 2018 with an undergraduate degree in Health Science and a minor in Business. She is currently enrolled in graduate school at Sacred Heart to get receive her Master’s in Business Administration.
Fetherman explained that she got the idea for the app from her brother Michael, who happens to have the same initials as the title of the app. Michael, who is 20-years-old, is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention-
Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). As he got older, his biggest issue became making friends.
“Autism Club at Sacred Heart is what I accredit my passion to,” said Fetherman, who was the president of the club during her senior year.
Another club on campus, called Best Buddies, works alongside children with special needs. Nicole Giordano, a senior nursing major and the president of the club, said that this app is going to be helpful.
“It can be difficult to make friends no matter who you are. Especially for our buddies, it can be hard because a lot of them go to school and then go home, leaving very little opportunity to meet new people. This app seems to work similarly to our program, providing a safe and fun way to make friends,” said Giordano.
Fetherman has even more plans to expand her business and the app.
“I want it to be my future, God-willing, but this is the main thing I wanted to do. Help match like-minded individuals to make friendships. I’m currently working on a part of the app to help other caregivers and family members, for example autism siblings to autism siblings,” said Fetherman.
iFundWomen is a website where female entrepreneurs can raise money for their businesses through a flexible crowdfunding platform. Making Authentic Friendships has already surpassed its goal on this website, raising over $10,000. If you would like to learn more, visit ifundwomen.com/projects/maf.
“She’s always been so sweet and wanting to help others,” said senior Abigail Haberle. “It doesn’t surprise me that she’s becoming so successful.”