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Sterling students get $150K investment for start-up app

Ashley Poyer, Sagar Govani and Sachet Gagwani from Sterling are the founders of Covert.ly app. Courtesy Photo
Three students from Sterling recently received a $150,000 angel investment for their app Covert.ly from the New York-based shoe company Modern Vice.

Covert.ly is a social networking app that allows people to share their opinion anonymously. Sagar Govani, one of the co-founders of Covert.ly, said the app has 200,000 active users and has consistently been in the top 100 on the Apple App Store.

The other two founders are Ashley Poyer and Sachet Gagwani.

Govani said Covert.ly was originally designed as a delivery app, but when it failed to take off, the three students redesigned it to become a social media platform.

Covert.ly is like the app YikYak before YikYak started making users register with screen names and profiles. Users anonymously publish limited character posts on Covert.ly, where other users can comment and vote on them. Poyer said YikYak getting rid of its anonymous posting -- the reason why it was originally popular -- opened up a social media market.

“We do things differently than YikYak did,” Poyer said. “We aren’t going to release people’s information, and we are going to keep the anonymity that YikYak didn’t keep.”

Poyer said posts stay up for 24 hours before they are deleted, and the information of the post is only stored for 10 business days. The app also does not store IP addresses, because Govani doesn’t want people being tracked by the app.

Govani said one of their main investors, Jordan Adoni of Modern Vice, liked how the app doesn’t cooperate with the police to maintain users’ anonymity. Govani said YikYak lacks this privacy for its users.

“I saw people post things and get in trouble for it,” Govani said. “At the same time they’re saying they’re anonymous which is lying to their users. I kind of got mad at that ... because they’re telling people they’re safe ,and then snitching on them.”

However, Govani said there are cases they might be forced to share data.

“Legally speaking we have to provide what's on our servers if given a subpoena,” Govani said. “We don't store data for too long, and the data we store isn't even that useful at identifying people.”

Why isn't the data stored useful for identifying people? Because the only identifying information about users the app tracks is device ID, which Govani said changes every time you re-download the app.

Poyer said almost all of the investment money will go toward marketing campaigns. Govani added the money will also go toward making an Android version of the app, since it is currently only available for the iPhone.

While Poyer and Govani are excited about the potential of their product, they also have other goals.

Poyer said, “This is in a way a stepping stone, but it’s a very large stepping stone.”

Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), on Twitter @HeymannAmelia or on Facebook @JournalistAmeliaHeymann.


mommapappa - have you looked at the app - no one is using it to report harmful behavior - quite the opposite.  They are using it to bully, boast about drug abuse, make racial and sexual slams, etc.  In fact, kids are smart enough to know that there is no way for them to get help via this app since it is anonymous.  Not sure why you are defending the app.

Positive services: SO MANY TEENS ARE DOING DRUGS IN LOUDOUN. Multiple kids have watched their friends OD and were to afraid to call for help since they would “get in trouble” and just let their friends suffer or die. If they just posted on this app and left, that wouldn’t have happened. Don’t even get me started on good friends and family screwing up relationships.. not talking for days over platforms like Facebook through something stupid, like the elections. But people want to express their opinions on the internet. Now they can do it without messing up their relationships through traditional social media.

What are the positive benefits of a service like this? If the internet has taught me anything about human behaviour, it’s that social media and anonymity are never a good combination.

I agree with Dante. Their selling point is being anonymous, able to talk/discuss anything and making it hard for law enforcement to track if say someone from this site killed/raped someone else and bragged about it.

You all are pretty ignorant. People can die from eating 24 bananas in a day. Are we going to start complaining about grocery stores about that? Why don’t you raise your kids better and stop hating on other peoples’ kid for being more successful than yours?

Hey Paceguy - take a look at the app before you comment.  Yes, the internet is full a terrible stuff.  That is precisely the point here.  This article celebrate creating another corner for people to hide in and post things that cannot be printed here.  My comment was not about the internet but the LTM story.  Pick a better fight.

You all crack me up. “this a platform for extremely crude comments about everything from sexual assault to drug abuse to racism to personal attacks. Not sure these students should be celebrated for ...locker room behavior”

You mean like the entirety of the internet? You mean like our president does on a daily basis? You polly anna’s need to stop abdicating responsibility and blaming “young people.” Bullies and derelicts come in all shapes, sizes, colors and creeds; they will exist the the light of day and the dark corners of the internet.

Nothing is anonymous. Kind of gives this shoe company some bad marketing. Spending $150K on app because users can be anonymous and doesn’t cooperate with law enforcement. Kind of gives a hint Modern Vice condones breaking the law.

The perfect app for criminals and bullies.

“Legally speaking we have to provide what’s on our servers if given a subpoena,” Govani said. “We don’t store data for too long, and the data we store isn’t even that useful at identifying people.”

I agree with Dante_Callme.  Teens these days are already bullying others on facebook and other similar social media sites.  Some of this behavior has caused suicides.  Why add an anonymous platform for bullies to continue this behavior and not live with the consequences?  In the real world we cannot just say whatever we want, when we want.  If you are going to say whatever you want, when you want, have the balls to own up to it and disclose who you are.  This app is childish and pointless.

just looked at this app - what this story does not tell you is that this a platform for extremely crude comments about everything from sexual assault to drug abuse to racism to personal attacks. Not sure these students should be celebrated for encouraging anonymous, locker room behavior.

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