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News Graduates give Staffs Uni star role in popular app

The founders of an immersive storytelling app have returned to their university stomping ground to film their latest episode

Graduates Shib Hussain and Adam Lowe founded popular app unrd
Image: Graduates Shib Hussain and Adam Lowe founded popular app unrd

Staffordshire University helped us to get our degrees and set us up for our careers now - it made sense to come here and it’s been great to be back

Adam Lowe, Co-founder of unrd

Graduates Adam Lowe and Shib Hussain are co-founders of unrd, an interactive app that allows users to watch a story unfold in real-time through messages, social media and videos.

The pair met while studying Advertising and Brand Management at Staffordshire University and both worked in the advertising sector after graduating in 2009.

Adam explained: “We started unrd very much as a side project with one story inside one app then it took off. We got a quarter of a million downloads overnight and the main feedback was ‘when is the next one coming out?’”

After securing support from major gaming investors, the London-based company has released several successful stories.

Adam commented: “We always try and make the stories feel as realistic as possible so it’s not big camera crews, we shoot a lot of it on mobile. When you watch it, you question whether it is real or not, which is why I think people love it so much.”

The team have been shooting new romantic drama ‘Freshers’ – which Adam describes as the mobile equivalent of television show Skins – at Staffordshire University.

The plot has an LGBTQ+ focus and follows five characters who meet in their first week at university and features various locations at the Stoke-on-Trent campus including the Students’ Union, accommodation and sports pitches.

Adam was keen to involve Staffordshire University students in the filming and many appear as actors and extras, from drama students to members of the football team.

He said: “Our story is all about feeling real so we wanted to use students who know the campus. It’s good for us to give back and involve students who could really benefit from the experience and to discover new talent.”

Freshers is due to be released on unrd at the end of February and, if successful, Adam hopes it could lead to further episodes.

“It’s a really interesting and current story for many people when they come to university. It’s a chance to reinvent yourself and find yourself, it’s a story we really want to tell.”

“When we were here it was such a friendly campus and felt like a big family, everyone was so accepting of each other. Staffordshire University helped us to get our degrees and set us up for our careers now - it made sense to come here and it’s been great to be back.”

Samantha Nuttall, Senior Development & Alumni Relations Officer, added: “We are really proud of Adam and Shib and the app they have created is so unique. It has been great to have them back on campus and involve our current students.

“All Staffs Alumni remain part of the Staffs family for life and we encourage all graduates to stay connected with us and share their successes.”

Early access to ‘Freshers’ is available to subscribers on February 27 and on general release from March 5 – you can download the app for free here.

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