What happens when you combine anonymous messaging with college campuses? You get 100,000 users in three months.
Yik Yak knows all about it.
The startup was launched by two Furman University students, Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, aiming to connect people through anonymous, location-based posts. Within a five-mile radius, the poster can choose to share with the closest 100, 250, or 500 Yik Yak users. For $.99, users can share with 1,000 people, 2,500 for $1.99, and 10,000 for $5.
We caught up with the founders at last night’s ATL Pitch-Off, and they confirmed the app is mostly used to gripe about things, people, places, classes, and/or anything else gripe-worthy. You can choose to show your general location, and from what I can see, there’s no moderation for someone who uses actual names in posts.
In other words, I could post on Yik Yak that my boss John Biggs picks his nose and no one would stop me from sending that out to a maximum of 10,000 nearby Yik Yak users.
Obviously, bullying issues abound. The company has already faced issues among various colleges, who feel the app violates anti-bullying rules.
As it stands now, posts are deleted when two or more users mark the content as inappropriate, or if someone screenshots offensive content and emails it to Yik Yak.
“We’re working on trying to find technical solutions to prevent app abuse by high schoolers, the blocks that we currently have in place aren’t working as well as we’d like them to,” said Buffington. “One thing that we have seen on the college front is that the longer a community is around the more mature and constructive it becomes. So we think that lends to some promise for the anonymous or semi-anonymous app realm.”
But despite these issues, the app has seriously picked up steam. In three months, with launches on five major southern campuses, the app already has 100,000 monthly active users. More than 15,000 messages go up each day.
Obviously, Secret and Whisper aren’t the only ones cashing in on our love of anonymity.
Currently, the app is being used at University of Georgia, Ole Miss, Clemson, University of Virginia and Wake Forest, and the team has plans to head up the east coast to schools like Penn State, Boston University, NYU, etc.
“We’ll let our competition battle it out in the Valley while we continue to gobble up schools on the East Coast,” said Buffington.
For now, the app already offers in-app purchases to expand reach, but Yik Yak sees an opportunity to run local deals, discounts and ads. But for now, the focus is growing the user base.
Yik Yak has seen investment from Atlanta Capital in the form of a $20,000 convertible note.