By Billie Kanfer '16, Features Editor
Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing the founders of Yik-Yak, Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington who graduated in 2013 from Furman University in South Carolina. Both Droll and Buffington were fraternity brothers who bounced ideas back and forth about an application that originated from their own college campus experience. They had realized how only a select few on campus were using Twitter and how most parody accounts were coming from a small amount of accounts and wanted to change that, allowing the entire student body to have the power to be witty. October 2013 marked the beginning of what soon became, Yik Yak which was later released in November 2013. In my interview with the founders, I discovered the reason they created Yik Yak and their hopes for the future of the app which has sky rocketed since its 2013 release.
Q: When did Yik Yak begin?
A: After we graduated in May 2013, we began working on the app in October and finally released it in November. It only took a few weeks to make; however, the hard part was making it grow and take over the college scene. At first release the app only reached two colleges, one was our own. When spring rolled around, we upped our efforts and got into the southeast and east coast schools. Spring break was when people began to talk about the app and brought it back to their own colleges. When this year began we noticed a huge explosion with new college campuses picking it up every day since the summer. Yik Yak is currently being used in over 500 colleges in the states.
Q: Who is your target demographic?
A: We definitely perceive the American college student as our target market. We want the users to be 17+, for the reason that they are more mature, and in college. Obviously our demographic lies within the college campus area in America and we believe there will be a natural spread to the Metropolitan areas such as D.C and NYC.
Q: Do you believe the anonymity of the app will promote cyber-bullying?
A: We don’t feel that it will promote cyber-bullying on college campuses. It is not being used by high schools or middle schools because they are not psychologically mature enough. College kids can say a variety of things but we hope that they are good at handling their responsibility. Another way we attempted to escape the possibility of cyber-bullying is through making Yik Yak anonymous; therefore, gender, sexuality, etc does not matter. Everyone is on a level playing field where they are judged on content and content alone.
Q: What is the mission behind Yik Yak?
A: Many people are dubbing Yik Yak to be the new Twitter. We enjoy that; however, we have a much more noble goal in mind. Yik Yak has a huge potential to make a greater impact through the “peek”feature. This aspect provides students with real time updates. When you “peek,”the yaks are coming from the ground, they are much more authentic than someone on Twitter who is commenting from wherever they may be. We want to have an authentic and constant stream that is socially powerful.
Q: What makes Yik Yak unique?
A: Yik Yak is unique because of its “peek”feature. On a more campus level, everyone is equal. Yik Yak allows everyone to participate in this social world, and no one is missing out on something witty being said. Sometimes there is a tendency for people to be shut out of a large portion of people on campus but Yik Yak allows you to connect with everyone.
Q: How will you keep the app thriving?
A: The strongest part of our application is the community it creates. Every college student will have a specific bond with the community on Yik Yak because of the location feature. From small to large campuses, there aren’t many places where you can interact with everyone on campus; therefore, Yik Yak bridges that gap and brings everyone together.
Q: What are your future hopes for Yik Yak?
A: It would be awesome to be used on every college campus in the states. We would also love to be the #1 app in an area when you arrive in a new location. We want Yik Yak to be used for entertainment but also as a database for people to know where the best place to eat is, etc. It is the best way to connect to everyone that might be a stranger around you. We also hope to generate lots of open discussion, a forum for people to talk and converse constantly.