Cryptocurrency-powered social network Reveal has closed $1.5m in seed funding from investors including Mike Hirshland of Resolute Ventures, Boost VC, Digital Currency Group and the Stanford StartX Fund.
Founded by Matt Ivester, former CEO of social network Kindr as well as college gossip news site JuicyCampus, and Kindr CTO Josh Beal, Reveal is perhaps best described as a visually oriented, Q&A social mobile app.
Like Instagram, SnapChat, Vine and other new social media incumbents, Reveal targets users in high school and college. Unlike these market leaders, Reveal’s posts offer a unique combination of doodles, photos, video and cryptocurrency.
It’s biggest asset according to its founders is reveal coin. A cryptographic token traded on the Stellar network, Ivester and Beal believe reveal coin will serve as a user engagement tool that will resonate with their target audience.
Ivester told CoinDesk:
“For a social network, more than most other businesses, users really do contribute a tremendous amount of value by telling their friends about the network so that it grows, but then also by on a day-to-day basis contributing the content that attracts other users and keeps them coming back.”
As with past social-oriented efforts in the cryptocurrency space, reveal coin will be issued in limited quantities and distribute advertising revenue among users.
However, reveal coin also functions as a “currency for attention”, in that consumers can use the reward token as a way to interact with others they might not otherwise know.
“Reveal coin becomes really interesting as you can create an incentive for another user to answer your questions,” Ivester said. “It goes to the top of their inbox, so it’s a way to get a user’s attention who you might not be able to access otherwise.”
By creating this marketplace for attention, Ivester explained, Reveal aims to first appeal to a key audience that could perhaps earn the most from the tool – influencers on other social websites.
Ivester said that Reveal has been working with prominent Instagram and Vine users who already have a large following in hope that their incentivized Q&A format will find appeal. He continued:
“They can say, ‘If you really want to get to know me, not just see my entertaining photos or videos, come follow me on Reveal’, because that’s what we’re really doing here. We think that that’s a really great growth strategy for us.”
Reveal will also piggyback off other social networks by allowing users to earn reveal coin by inviting friends. Those who post questions, for example, will be able to advertise posted questions via Facebook, Twitter and more.
“We think that Reveal is inherently viral and it will get a lot of growth from that,” Ivester added.
Of note, is that Reveal’s founders have chosen a community-first revenue model given that the app might have found an audience even without a token to provide an incentive.
The fact that sharing value with users might not be “the perfect business decision”, was acknowledged by the founders. However, Ivester said it was “the right thing to do”, suggesting that Reveal could appeal to users who feel turned off by the revenue-generating approaches of other social network giants.
“I think we can create a better UX through this,” Beal remarked. “Some users are upset by ads on Facebook, they feel like it’s not something that benefits them.”
As for how they will attempt to educate their audience about cryptocurrency, both Beal and Ivester indicated that they believe the concept of community ownership will be inherently understood by Reveal’s audience, even if the technical details are more alien to users.
“The nice thing about reveal coin is you don’t have to have a super deep level of technical understanding to see the utility in it,” Ivester said. “From the consumer side, it’s a clear value proposition and we’re starting to educate more people about it being a cryptocurrency.”
Though excited about the possibilities of reveal coin, Ivester and Beal sought to underscore their belief that the app’s user experience can stand on its own.
Ivester suggested that while social networks like Reddit or Periscope will allow users to interact through questions, he called such attempts secondary to the design of the platforms.
“Reveal is a way to showcase your personality through photos and videos. The content feels a lot more personal than these other networks. There’s text, photo and video, so it feels like they’re having a conversation with someone,” he said.
Ivester indicated that Reveal will use the funds to scale its team, build an Android app and begin exploring the possibilities for the continued use of reveal coin in new ways on the network.
“There’s a lot more that we want to do, and this is going to allow us to do that even faster.”
Image via Reveal