Experience Project has quietly drawn a big community of people who share life experiences with each other anonymously. Since it started a little more than a year ago, users have created a million distinct experiences on intimate subjects such as “I live in a sexless marriage.” The company has raised $3 million in a first round of funding to expand the anonymous social experience site.
The site is the brainchild of Armen Berjikly, a 28-year-old Stanford University graduate. He started working on his first social networking site more than five years ago, when one of his friends was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The site, ThisisMS, was a gathering place for information on the disease. But one of its most active parts was the anonymous forum. Berjikly saw how much more honest people seemed to be because of the anonymity. He took that learning and started Experience Project.
“Anonymity is incredibly important because you can more freely talk about what you’re passionate about,” he said.
Other sites have picked up on this from the tawdry Daily Confession to 43 Things, where people write about their aspirations. Post Secret is another site where you can put up a post card with an anonymous note on it. And JuicyCampus has anonymous tales entitled “the most hated sluts on campus.” Anonymous posting and the Internet go well together, and that makes for a crowded market.
In contrast to those other sites, Experience Project is really much more about deep conversations and positive support. Berjikly says that many of the posts draw more 20 to 100 comments. And many of those comments are long. While mature subjects are permitted, the site’s members and moderators don’t tolerate illegal activities or those that are overtly pornographic. Subjects such as recovering from drug abuse, however, are fair game.
Berjikly declined to disclose the number of members, but he said that millions visit the site a month. Each post has its own forum for comments and can run content-appropriate advertising, which is one of the ways that the company makes money.
The company has six employees and is based in San Francisco. Berjikly says that he will hire more engineers to improve the site. The site is not yet profitable.
D.E. Shaw Group led the round. Other investors include Maples Investments and Baseline Ventures. Despite the tough economic environment, Berjikly said he got to know the investors over several months but, once he decided to do it, the deal was done in a matter of weeks.