It all started with a drunk dial.
When Joshua Anton was at his first party at the University of Virginia, having recently transferred from Northern Virginia Community College, he received a call from a drunk friend.
The app's main purposes are to stop drunk students from making calls they wish they never made, and to help students look out for themselves and each other. If used correctly, the app is meant to make intoxicated outings safer -- both physically and socially.
"Students will party. This will not change," Anton, 23, told The Huffington Post. "It is the nature of being young in college to want to be a bit ‘rebellious’ and do crazy stuff. All we are trying to do is create an easy button for certain questions."
Drunk Mode aims to be "your new best friend," according to an Indiegogo campaign intended to raise funds for further development and marketing of the app. Among other things, you can use Drunk Mode to track your friends, keep yourself from calling certain numbers and create a "breadcrumb" trail showing you where you went during a night out.
One of the current features of the app is "Find My Drunk," where users can share their location with a friend on the app. The idea for this feature came when one of the app's co-founders spent over an hour trying to find two intoxicated friends who'd called him and asked for a ride home.
The find-a-friend feature has particular resonance given to the app's origins at UVA, where student Hannah Graham, 18, disappeared in September after a night out. Graham's remains were found some weeks later, about 12 miles from campus, and a man has been charged with her abduction. Around the time of Graham's disappearance, UVA students began an awareness campaign called "Hoos Got Your Back" that urged students to look out for each other. The creators of Drunk Mode say their app is meant to be used in the same spirit.
Drinking is a major problem on college campuses. About half of students who drink alcohol participate in binge drinking, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism -- a behavior that can lead to deaths, assaults and injuries. The creators of Drunk Mode say their aim is to make situations involving alcohol become less dangerous. In addition to helping users find parties and retrace their steps the next day, the app is meant to steer users toward food, missing friends and safe rides home.
There are already many apps on the market for keeping young people safe, but they're usually downloaded by people who have been in dangerous situations at least once before, "or the parents made them download it," Anton told HuffPost.
On the other hand, he said, Drunk Mode is for people who "believe they are downloading a drunk app, but they are really downloading an app with safety components." The "Find My Drunk" feature, for example, is not very different from some GPS-based apps that parents use to track their kids.
"I would make the statement that our application makes you more aware of certain behaviors you practice, while not making you feel judged in any way, which is important for many folks," said Anton.
Though the app is easy enough to use while drunk, the creators say they envision people turning it on before they go out, while they're still relatively sober. Once activated, the app stays on for three to 12 hours, tracking your location and running its other features.
With funding from the Indiegogo campaign, the team is developing new features for the app. Some possible future additions include a feature for finding a ride home -- whether through public transportation or an Uber or Lyft car -- and a feature that would inform you of real-time deals from restaurants and bars. Drunk Mode is also working on a feature that would save all the Snapchats you send over the course of a night. No more wondering how embarrassing that 3 a.m. Snap was -- you'd be able to see it in all its glory.
Right now, Drunk Mode has 91,000 users, Anton said, and he predicts it will reach 100,000 by the end of next week. The company is marketing the app to the college crowd, with Drunk Mode representatives currently at schools like Ohio University, the University of Alabama, San Diego State University, Syracuse University and the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. UVA and the University of Alabama did not respond to a request for comment for this story. San Diego State declined to comment.
While the other features of the app are for real-time drunk help, the "Breadcrumbs" feature was made for sober reminiscence. The team created this feature because they had one friend in particular who would borrow their dress shirts and, over the course of a night out, mysteriously lose them.
"We won't know where he put our dress shirt, and we've lost a lot of shirts to him," Anton said. But with Drunk Mode, you can retrace your steps from the night before. More than just a helpful tool, this feature can be used to relive the memories from that night and help you tell the story to your buddies, Anton said.