Austin's Bearch scores $2M in seed funding for campus privacy app Unseen

by Emerson Dameron
November 24, 2014

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“Our psychic universe is expanding even more rapidly than the physical universe,” said the late futurist writer Robert Anton Wilson.

That's hardly news to college students, who are well aware that artifacts from the most vulnerable and experimental phase of their lives are ever more likely to haunt them as they mature and join the job market.

No wonder, then, that there's such a booming market for tools that protect privacy, most notably the 'disappearing text' app Snapchat. The Austin firm Bearch is joining the private party with Unseen, an app designed specifically with students in mind. This August, after a two-year journey of trial and error and a trial run at Texas A&M, Bearch collected $2 million in seed funding to perfect and propagate collegiate discretion. Now it's not just for Aggies anymore – Unseen is used on 150 campuses nationwide.

[ibimage==32540==Medium==none==self==ibimage_align-left]“College is a crazy, challenging time in a young person's life,” said Bearch co-founder Michael Schramm. “And not just because of all the experimentation with sex and drinking, though that is part of it. For many people, college is the first time they live away from home, among people who are different from them. It's likely to be the first time they have to make a huge financial decision like whether to take out loans. It's probably the first time they're challenged to consider radical ideas or global problems. None of these experiences fit neatly into a status update, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be shared. Unseen is an outlet for all those experiences that are stifled on traditional social media.”

Unseen promises privacy on an unprecedented scale - "no signups, no logins, no names." Its security features include end-to-end encryption and immediate destruction of any data that might trace information back to a particular user or device. Not even Unseen employees know what's coming and going on the app. Thus, it already plans to sidestep the controversies that have stymied its high-profile competitors.

[ibimage==32541==Large==none==self==ibimage_align-center]“Anonymity on this scale is a brand new space,” Schramm said. “What we're building is so dramatically different from the status quo established by social media giants. There's no playbook, and we don't ever really know what to expect. Our users don't really know what to expect going into it either, because they've never really been given a space like this before. We're all just figuring it out as we go.”

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