Social networks have altered the way people interact with one another. Since its inception, the industry has seen its share of disruptive ventures, the most notable of which being Facebook. However, as the next generation of networks begins to gain broader market appeal, trends seem to be shifting from the intensely personal platforms we’ve become accustomed to, and towards the anonymity newer ventures offer their members.
Unseen is a rapidly growing social network catering to college campuses. Launched two years ago, and aptly termed the “UnNetwork”, the company offers the communication potential of traditional sites/apps but without the personal aspect to it. Users don’t have profiles in the traditional sense, and the platform doesn’t store information on its servers. Member privacy is protected through encryption, and the purpose of the mobile app is made clear, share photos, connect through the content posted on the site, and be yourself without having to consider all the baggage which now comes with social networking.
CEO Michael Schramm puts it clearly: “At the core, Unseen is about discovery and connecting with your classmates. It’s less about anonymous photos and more about genuine connection”. Schramm notes that instead of establishing genuine connections, social networks have become personalized to the extent that people are no longer really themselves online. The cost of “mistakes” on such channels are well known, and specific groups often have more to lose, with college students being a perfect example.
Unseen doesn’t want to be looked upon as an anonymous app, but as a genuine tool to bring people together. We had the opportunity to interview Michael Schramm, and he provided us with further insight into the app itself, Unseen’s place in the market, and a hint of what’s to come in the future.
To begin, tell us a bit about Unseen. Is this just an image/video sharing app, or more of an attempt at a new kind of network?
Unseen is a mobile app designed to help students discover and connect with other students. Everything from images to comments on posts, and even anonymity, are simply tools the application provides to enable users to become discoverable. Once a user finds someone that they’d like to connect with, they can connect with them. Unseen is what social networks used to be before we realized the massive hidden costs associated with sharing honestly. Traditional social networks are now only super glossy, artificial representations of people. Unseen has created a safe way for students to discover and connect with others, honestly, while reducing the costs.
What led you to the field of anonymous apps? Why did it seem like an attractive market?
Creating an application with an anonymous component was completely unintentional, we have been working in the social connection space for a couple of years now and found that anonymity breeds honesty when asking an individual to speak their mind and express themselves.
As compared to other college focused social apps, Unseen offers the safest way to discover and connect with others using complete anonymity and user controlled discovery.
In the past, there have been detractors of apps of this nature. As someone leading a growing venture in this field, what are the keys to effectively promoting the app, and having it reach its potential?
Surprisingly, I too would probably fall into the detractor category for anonymous applications. The vast majority have launched anonymous applications without any consideration for the negative impacts they can have on individual’s lives. Thoughtful, serious moderation is not a “nice to have” but a necessity when entering into this space. The buzz created by applications who ignore their moral responsibility for appropriate moderation do nothing but overshadow applications that use anonymity for good (i.e. Seven Cups of Tea. etc.) and hurt people. Until organizations like Apple and Google hold these applications accountable this space will only grow to include more harmful anonymous apps.
How do you see anonymous social networks developing in the future?
The future is now and you see it with the new wave of social networks. Everything from Snapchat to Yik Yak are providing users a safer, lower cost way of sharing with others. Anonymity, when implemented responsibly, is the future of all social networks. Within 5 years every major social network will have some aspect of anonymity.
What about Unseen? Is this something you feel could ever be expanded from a college campus app, and implemented on a larger scale?
Absolutely. While our focus is solely on helping students discover and connect with others, we will eventually be available to every person in the world.
Is there anything our readers should know about Unseen, or new developments related to the company?
We will be launching internationally over the next couple of months while continuing to improve Unseen for students.