It’s easy to forget nearly ten years after it launched that Facebook was originally designed exclusively for college students. If you wanted to sign up for a Facebook account in 2005, you needed to identify what university you were attending. If you weren’t attending a university, you couldn’t get onto Facebook. The site flourished by catering to college students who could use the network to digitally “hang out” with their friends. Eventually, Facebook hit a growth wall. There are, after all, only so many college kids. So Facebook opened its membership up to anyone over 13. Now, everyone is on Facebook, and the rest as they say is history. Interestingly, Facebook has recently found its engagement amongst teenagers declining. Many teens, it turns out, don’t love the idea of sharing a social network with their moms, dads, aunts, uncles, and yes, grandparents. Enter Blend.
Akash Nigam, Matt Geiger, and Evan Rosenbaum are the founders of Blend, a social site exclusively for college students. The three friends realized that many teens wanted a place to hang out online that couldn’t be accessed by adults. You need to indicate what college you are attending and your year of graduation in order to create a user profile for Blend. When you graduate, your account disappears. Currently, Blend is primarily a photo-sharing site, but users can also win gift cards.
The founders also realized that marketers covet the teen demographic and would pay top dollar for access to them. You need to indicate what college you are attending and your year of graduation in order to create a user profile for Blend. When you graduate, your account disappears. Currently, Blend is primarily a photo-sharing site. Users can also win gift cards. Many of the brands that do advertise on Blend may be unknown by anyone over the age of 25 and that’s just what Blend wants. Blend’s founders try to exclude sponsorship from brands that are unappealing to college kids like Target or Wal-Mart. Of course, Blend is still in its infancy. The app was launched in September and the site currently boasts 50,000 users. It has lots of room to grow.
There certainly seems to be a market for gated teen sites that exclude adults. Blend’s first major advantage is that it’s gated: competitors like Tumblr and Snapchat are popular with teens but they don’t exclude adults. It’s second major advantage is that it’s designed with advertisers in mind through its built in gift card contests. Will Blend succeed? Only time will tell.