expat network

New Social Media App For Expats

social media

Being an expat and trying to make real friendships can be challenging in a foreign country. A new social media app, Panion, created by a Swedish expat, uses smart data to connect people based on the same interests, values and experiences. It’s like a search engine for finding like-minded individuals.


On the surface, Melanie Aronson’s brainchild Panion may seem like just another social app, but she argues that there is actually a big difference, and the successful creator behind this new social tool also has an interesting personal story to go with it.

When Melanie Aronson moved from New York City to Malmö, Sweden 5 years ago, she quickly realised that making friends in this new part of the globe would be very difficult. As an immigrant in the country that continuously ranked number 1 as the hardest place to make new friends, Melanie struggled, and as a researcher at Lund University, focused on integration, she realised she wasn’t alone! So she started to build a prototype for a tool she felt would help immigrants feel more connected in Sweden; an idea, that since has garnered much attention and interest among money heavy investors and entrepreneurs in Denmark, Sweden, the U.S. and Russia.

The idea gave birth to Panion, a social meeting place for like-minded people with common interests. Panion differs from other apps, in the sense that it is more of a search engine than an actual social network. “Panion is a tool for meeting each other in person. Without focusing on sharing an endless stream of content, Panion is all about highlighting people’s interests, values and experiences. Things that really define who you are. Then we use data and keywords to make everyone searchable and filterable by what they like and who they are.” says Melanie Aronson. Today, she has a team of ten, some of whom are consultants, and many of which are immigrants themselves.

Imagine you’re an expat in Rio de Janeiro and you want to go for a hike. You open Panion app, you search for people who also like hiking, you send them a message offering to join you and there you are, on top of the mountain sharing your common passion. It’s a simple, yet effective way to connect with other people who share an interest in the same activities.

Melanie Aronson is a first-time start-up founder, but not a first-time entrepreneur. She has been running her own freelance business for the last ten years. She has a background as an anthropologist and came to Malmö on a Fulbright scholarship to study integration at the height of the migration influx in 2014. She has also been working as a filmmaker for the last 7 years and has found that filmmaking has hugely impacted her ability to know how to create a product from scratch.

“I’ve been thinking about how making films has prepared me for building a startup. In a sense they are very similar, both speak to an audience, are about creating a product, require testing and iteration, and require you to find the right people to build a team.” says Melanie Aronson.

The platform has also integrated a B2B option, where large networks like associations, universities, or even companies can create a private community on the platform to enable searchability and filtering amongst their members. This is not only a huge asset for say, new students, trying to find like-minded friends when they start university, but could also help with the integration of new employees into a company.

Panion finally released their Version 1.0 at the beginning of this year, and so far has attracted almost 100,000 users. Their eventual goal is to create a space where people can offer workshops and exchange knowledge and different skills while also being able to earn a bit of extra money.


Find out more about Panion and download the app for Android and iOS at https://panion.com/.