April 24, 2014
Pencourage-agous Growth Spurt
Last year, redOrbit’s Michael Harper and I told you about a new kind of anti-social media site, called Pencourage.
Pencourage was founded on the idea that social media is inherently exaggerated. Pencourage released a press statement, claiming that “a recent survey proved that a third of women lie at least once a month on traditional social networks regarding their lifestyle. ” Before you start denying and kvetching, let’s be honest. I work hard at being honest and forthright in my online dealings and I know that sometimes I fib. That’s how I know you do too. That’s how I know their study is right.
The site is open to anyone, but the predominant users are women, and they are looking to dish some dirt. The thing is, it is a safe place to dish it out, because you are completely anonymous. The only details about you that are revealed are the ones you want to be. For example, my current profile on the site contains a user name, and a country of origin. That’s it. No name, no city, no age… nothing that you don’t want to reveal.
So why the strict anonymity? Honesty, that’s why. When you strip away any chance that people will look at you differently, or treat you differently, when you strip away any chance of repercussions or shame… stark, blunt honesty is what is left. You would think that level of honesty would be painful, and it probably is for the person saying it. But it is cathartic as well. As anyone who has EVER been to therapy can tell you, being able to tell your deepest darkest secrets to someone who “doesn’t have a dog in the fight,” as my grandmother would say, allows you to let go of a lot of the anger and pain.
The second reason for the anonymity, and probably even more important than the personal honesty, is that it allows users to support each other, without outing themselves. You can talk about how you survived rape, or abuse, or eating disorders—all without revealing who you are. I have seen intensely beautiful moments of support, an outpouring of love and faith and community that is rarely seen in real life. You can get some of that on Facebook or Twitter, but not in the same way, or with the same depth.
A little over a year later, and Pencourage is going strong. In fact, they are facing an exponential growth spurt. To help this along, the company has secured some new venture capital through Jensen Seed EIS Fund 2—to the tune of approximately $850,000 dollars. That is a lot of faith in a one-year-old Internet start-up. Pencourage must be doing something right.
“We’re delighted to be working with Jensons – Pencourage has gained thousands of dedicated users and wide, international media coverage in a very short space of time. The business has already rebuffed unsolicited takeover approaches from significant media owners in the UK and venture capital companies in the US but we feel that Jenson is an ideal partner for us, as they recognize the value of our unique and disruptive plans,” said Pencourage found, Peter Clayton.
In fact, that’s a major change right there. Until this announcement, even the management team of Pencourage was kept secret. They wanted to practice what they preached about anonymity.
I’ve had the privilege to share a couple emails with Mr. Clayton and the new press officer, Tingy Simoes. They are both sharp, and with the rest of the management team, ready to take Pencourage to the next level and beyond. Peter and Tingy are also completely bonkers, which you might need to be to run such a site.
Now I’m going to run, as Peter assures me Tingy hits. Mmmm, suppose I should have written this blog post anonymously as well, you think?
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