Krono Lescano/Contributing Writer
There’s a new app out for smartphones and it’s the creation of a recent FIU graduate and his two friends.
Alum Brian Summers, along with Michael Francis and Geoffrey Chan have created ShareWhere, an app in which people anonymously express what’s on their minds and what’s happening at places around them.
The idea came when Francis, 29, and Chan, 28, kept getting home from bars and clubs with tons of great photos, but “you would just never put them on Instagram,” said Francis.
“Nowadays people are so careful about what they post because they do not want to be seen in a negative light, especially if family and friends will see it,” Francis said.
Francis and Chan asked themselves, what if there was an app where they could be anonymous, it could allow for the blurring of faces and so on. And then it hit them.
The two took the idea to Summers, who was interested right away.
“I thought it was something unique that had the potential to really take off if we developed it correctly,” said Summers. “One small mistake can go viral and haunt us for the rest of our lives. Having an outlet that offers people a little anonymity to express themselves open and honestly is something that’s incredibly refreshing.”
After doing some research and discovering that anonymous-based apps were becoming popular, the three agreed that Miami and its social scene was a great place to gain momentum.
Development for ShareWhere began in April–an idea was becoming reality.
Summers and Francis had experience in the app world from working on in-house IT and applications for an undisclosed company.
Summers started as an intern handling service requests while attending school at night to complete his degree in management information systems at the University. The company allowed him to make up daytime classes.
“It was a great experience, I learned a lot and met some really great people that helped me along the way,” he said.
A dozen coffee-filled nights and couple of months later, ShareWhere was up on Apple’s App Store, ready for download in early June.
Soon after that, anonymous posts began to flood in; posts from people finding hair in their french toast at Greenstreet Cafe and of only receiving birthday wishes from their gym.
“When we were making it and talking to people, the most important thing they said was to make it simple. You got 10 seconds to grab someone,” Francis said.
In the app, users are asked to sign in with an e-mail address and then they can start posting. When taking a picture, the user can choose to blur the picture or add emoji faces to it to hide someone’s identity.
ShareWhere-ers can then comment on others’ posts and they will be assigned a symbol to maintain the anonymity. It can be a red penguin, purple anchor or any of the other 500 icons. If the user wishes to have a more private interaction with the post’s creator, they can choose to direct message them.
Although ShareWhere’s anonymity is what spurred its creation and popularity, Francis said that the app’s localization feature is its most important one.
Every post is added to a map so that users within a 50-mile-radius can interact with each other.
“As more people get on, we’re going to make that radius smaller,” Francis said. “We want to ultimately get it to where there’s enough people where it’s a 5-mile-radius.”
Every day while at work, Summers thought about how limited time was; something which motivated him in the development of ShareWhere.
“Having a steady a nine to five is great and it gives you a sense of security, but doing this gave me the opportunity to really build something for myself,” said Summers.
All three founders are currently in talks with a San Francisco-based venture capitalist firm that is interested in investing and supporting the app’s progress. With this support, they are planning on releasing an Android version of ShareWhere, and adding video capability.
“Win or lose, I’ll have absolutely no regrets,” Summers said.