Don't judge a book by its cover, right? It's easier said than done, particularly on social media. A professional-looking profile photo impacts your success on LinkedIn. There's a 37 percent increase in engagement when Facebook posts include photographs. Recent research even found that women find other women who post "sexy" pictures as less competent, and less physically and socially attractive.
So if pictures can improve or worsen your online reputation, can you build genuine social connections without knowing what someone looks like from the outside? That's what Nick Soman wondered when he lay paralyzed, lonely, and isolated in the hospital for four months in 2009 from a paralytic illness called Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
Soman recovered from his illness after six months of therapy and got to work on the Seattle-based anonymous chat app with ex-Amazon colleague, Richard Luck, who is the platform's co-founder and CTO. Reveal Chat launched in September with help from former Facebook, Amazon, and Virgin America executives.
So if you're looking to chat anonymously with someone, simply sign up through Facebook. Then choose whether you want to connect with a female, male, or anyone. You can opt-in to get push notifications when others are looking to chat. Either way, chats begin totally anonymous. You'll only see the other person's gender, age, and distance.
"Business is about making something people want, so we talk to our users constantly through the app to learn how to make them happy," Soman said. "We're learning that connecting anonymously makes it easier to be yourself."
Since its launch, the app users have sent more than a million messages, with both men and women returning. While Reveal is especially popular among college students who like to have three to five chats going at once, a variety of people are using it, including job seekers. Plus, the app is getting attention from brands and marketing folks, as it offers a pretty unique way for them to get connected instantly with real people for feedback.
"I'm proud to say that people are using our app to make connections of all kinds," said Soman. "Last week a 30-year-old woman emailed us, "Thank you for building this app. I have always been lonely with no one to chat with after work. Now I have someone that I can chat with, and he is there to talk about mundane things. I particularly like that the relationship we have is not romantic or inclined toward dating. We are just two people who happen to talk every day about the things that are not important but make us feel connected."
A 20-year-old guy wrote, "I just wanna say thank you because I met the girl on this app that I'm in a relationship with. I just wish we could see all the messages we sent back and forth so I could see the first things we said to each other and what days we started talking. But I have this app to thank."
As Reveal's focus is to keep improving the user experience for now, monetization is in its future as long as its user base continues to grow. "The more users we have, the better matches we can make. I expect to grow our user base into the millions in the new year."
Until then, sign up for Reveal Chat on iOS and look out for it on Android in the next few months.