UT Austin Students Created Big & Mini to Bridge the Gap between Generations


  • Allen Zhou, 19, has learned a valuable lesson during the pandemic: People of all age groups can feel lonely — especially teens and seniors.
  • With Aditi Merchant, a schoolmate at the University of Texas at Austin, and his younger brother Anthony, Allen created Big & Mini, a nonprofit organization that pairs the “Bigs” (seniors) with the “Minis” (young adults).

  • Since April, more than 1,100 pairs of Big & Mini around the globe have been matched. When participants sign up, they can set up a profile based on their interests, receive training on how to use the service and are then introduced to a partner.
  • Big & Mini uses Jitsi, a free, open-source multiplatform communication platform, encrypted using DTLS-SRTP all the way from the sender to the receiver.
  • The idea is gaining traction, and notice. Their story made it to the Today show last week.
  • Read more  of their stories on DallsNews


  • More than 60% of Americans report feeling lonely.
  • In the COVID-19 pandemic, people become more isolated and especially seniors. 



Allen Zhou, Aditi Merchant and Anthony Zhou, founders of Big & Mini.(Handout photo)

“We are just getting started and hope to help many more people.”

Allen Zhou

Allen Zhou, Aditi Merchant and Anthony Zhou launched Big & Mini, aiming to bridge generations to create meaningful connections.

Big & Mini wants to be a community working together to spread wisdom, end social isolation, and make the world a little better— one generation-bridging connection at a time.

Join Big & Mini




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