|By Business Wire||
|August 19, 2014 11:01 AM EDT||
Bearch, an Austin-based company that strives to solve problems by connecting people in unique ways, today announced that it raised $2.1 million in funding for Unseen, its anonymous photo sharing app for college students. Texas-based investors include Dirk Elmendorf, co-founder of Rackspace; Rony Kahan, CEO/co-founder of Indeed.com; Doss Cunningham, CEO of Woodbolt International; and several other angels. The investment will be used to expand app availability to more college campuses and for the development of new features that will allow greater interaction between users.
First released in May 2014 to Texas A&M University students, Unseen was created by Bearch Co-founders Michael Schramm and Munjal Budhabhatti. Unseen connects students by providing a safe place to share thoughts, experiences, and struggles without fear of repercussions or judgment. The app requires no sign in, logins or names – only that the user associate with a college campus – and can be downloaded for free on the iPhone app store. A version for Android phones was released last week and is now available on the Google apps store.
“College is a period of our lives that is filled with new experiences and making tough decisions,” said Michael Schramm, CEO of Unseen. “Unseen provides a new way to find and connect with others facing similar challenges and struggles in a safe, anonymous way. Social media today is inherently inauthentic and a glossy version of who we really are. We are creating a new, social way for students to be themselves and make meaningful connections.”
Posts by Unseen users have generated open discussions on a variety of topics, including controversial ones, and has become a safe haven for users to seek support. A post on the University of Mississippi thread about racism generated 109 comments, with many sharing genuine, unvarnished views. A post on the Texas A&M University thread about suicidal thoughts resulted in an outpour of support including many sharing similar stories of battling depression and some sharing their phone numbers with the offer to call anytime.
In the three months since its launch, Unseen has been released to over 40 college campuses, and expects to be in over 150 campuses by the end of August with near 100% growth week over week. Schramm expects even faster growth when colleges start back in the fall.
Demand for Unseen has been so great that 10s of 1000s of students are waiting in a “digital line” for access. To stimulate this initial demand, the founders gamified the addition of new campuses based on social shares of the app and ranking the release of campuses by number of downloads.
Bearch, Inc. is an Austin-based company that builds social collaboration tools to solve problems by connecting people in unique ways. Unseen is Bearch’s anonymous photo sharing app that helps students connect with others around similar topics in ways other popular social media platforms can’t. Investors include: Dirk Elmendorf and Pat Condon, co-founders of Rackspace; Rony Kahan, co-founder of Indeed.com; Doss Cunningham, CEO of Woodbolt International, Seed Sumo and other Texas-based angel investors.
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