How One Incoming Freshman Started An Organization and Connected 3500 People

Alive Vibe (formerly known as Count Me In) is a platform that strives to connect people throughout the world by hosting virtual events. Ali Debow, the creator of Alive Vibe, is an incoming freshman at NYU Shanghai. Ali shared with OCA her process in creating this platform, as well as where she hopes to take it.

Prior to COVID-19, Alive Vibe was supposed to function somewhat like a dating app, but for people interested in going to events. People could select an upcoming concert, for example, and start conversations with others who were also interested in attending the same concert and even meet up beforehand if they wanted. 

With the onset of stay-at-home orders and mandatory quarantines, however, Ali’s original plan had to be scrapped. “Let’s try virtual events,” she thought. This led to several weeks of Ali coercing her friends to attend classes about yoga, Chinese language, and more. 

As a result of hosting 15-20 events per week, things started to pick up: “A big turn was when someone else hosted an event” says Ali. Shortly after, Ali launched the Alive Vibe Instagram account and started recruiting friends, family, and friends of friends to help out. 

Another major turn was the first “NYU Shang-HI” event which had about 20 attendees. “NYU Shang-HI” started 1-2 weeks after regular decisions came out and students began to commit to NYUSH. 

Yasmin Pang, an incoming freshman, says “Shang-Hi really gave me a much easier way to meet incoming freshmen without having to directly reach out to each student individually. I made a few friends from the event and I think it’s especially useful during the pandemic.”

Ali started the event by simply creating a Zoom Room, sending the link in the class of 2024’s group chat, and asking people to come. 

Tim Fraher, also an incoming freshman, gave his initial thoughts on “NYU Shang-HI”: A bunch of people getting together with absolutely no knowledge of each other’s backgrounds was a total recipe for awkwardness and silence. But I think we all realized quickly that we’re all just as budding and driven to make new friends and connections, and that really brought everyone together. Now it’s really cool to reflect and see how that’s become a really solid group of friends.”

Celia Foster enjoyed the event so much that she continues to attend every Saturday morning: “I’ve been able to meet fellow freshmen from all over the globe to share our excitement for  the next four years.”

Now, the event has grown in scale and can last anywhere between 1-3.5 hours. This event is hosted weekly, open to any grade level, and can be found here

Now, the Alive Vibe website is fully up and running, and Ali has 35 interns, all between the ages of 17-23. Over 550 cities have been represented in attendance of events and over 3500 people have attended events. Much of Ali’s work now involves reaching out to NGOs and various potential speakers.

For those looking to get involved, Alive Vibe allows anyone to host an event, attend an event, write for their blog, and Alive Vibe is currently accepting intern applications. Intern work can range from graphic design to marketing to app development and anywhere in between. 

Post-pandemic, Ali plans to continue Alive Vibe and hopefully move towards a fully integrated mobile app. Despite the idea of origin being for people to meet before going to in-person events, Ali stands by the new platform: “COVID-19 was the catalyst, but not the cause” for this shift in her business model. 

Alive Vibe’s VIbe Tribe–network of people who have attended and hosted events)–has already grown to over 3500 people. Alive Vibe shows how one student and her relentless enthusiasm for connecting with others has impacted not only the NYU Shanghai community, but a global community. 

To read more about Ali and Alive Vibe, check out her feature here by South China Morning Post.

This article was written by Steph Scaglia reporting from San Francisco, California. You can reach out to the author at
Photo credit: @alivevibetribe on Instagram

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