Harvard Student Creates A Viral App To Destroy Facebook

At the end of college, I deleted Facebook. We've built Claim to be the anti-Instagram.

The other day, I was scrolling through LinkedIn when, all of a sudden, my eyes stopped dead in their tracks.

Sequoia just backed a new early-stage consumer company.

One of the only investments they made in a consumer business in YEARS!

What’s so special about this guy and his company? 

So, I did some digging and found that their founder, Sam Obletz is tackling a major problem.

He’s a Harvard graduate that’s building an app to replace Facebook Advertising forever.

Whoah, that’s one heck of a story!

So, I decided to have Sam on to learn exactly what he’s doing, how he’s raised over $8 Million, and the tactics his team is using to go viral.

Here’s the story behind Claim. 👇️ 

Note: This story has been edited for reading clarity

Q: Sam, what’s wrong with advertising today?

Oh boy, here we go. Let's attack this from both a consumer lens and an advertiser lens. Let's start with the merchant lens.

I actually think that most people don't realize how difficult it is to be a marketer. There are a few reasons for that.

  1. It’s very difficult to make your P&L really pencil right now, given the cost of getting customers in the door for the first time.

  2. Figuring out where a customer came from is more complex than ever.

We see billion-dollar industries developed around multi-touch attribution and assigning value to where a customer came in the door. Unfortunately, the process is becoming increasingly opaque, especially for the end user. It's kind of a fool's errand, in a way.

And so that's complicating the picture.

Lastly, the phasing out of cookies and Apple’s “Do Not Track,” have good intent, but they further complicate the ability of the marketer to say, ‘How do I find the right customers?’

They are being asked to grow gross margins, and they’re given a legacy set of tools to do so.

On the consumer side, attention is at an all-time low, which is again feeding into the vicious cycle of CPAs being at an all-time high.

We see advertising all day on our screens, creating desensitization to brands that try to grab our attention. We're not on Instagram to be sold things, and we're not walking down the street to be sold things. So it's a rude interruption in our day.

Q: What inspired you to build a company to solve this issue?

Yeah, I grew up with Facebook. At the end of college, I deleted it entirely because I felt two things.

  1. The dopamine loop is real. I felt myself getting dragged more and more into Facebook and checking it at the expense of real-world relationships.

  2. I got tired of the 4th or 5th direct-to-consumer company trying to reach me on Facebook when I was not there to be sold to.

We've built Claim to be the anti-Instagram.

The second aspect of starting Claim came from the feeling that a lot of our digital interactions are more transactional than ever right now. We wanted to bring back that emotional connection through authenticity.

Q: How do you bring back that emotional connection to brands?

Claim App UI

When you sign up, we'll add you to the activity feed. We spoke to the early folks at Venmo, and many people asked why Venmo had an activity feed.

Like, ‘Why do I need to see my friends paying each other rent or paying each other back for pizza?

At the beginning and still today, that's to really drive home the point that activity is happening here. This thing is real. It’s credible. It's trustworthy.

In the same way, we drop you on the activity, and you can see the pace of interaction on the platform. If you open the app right now, you'll see hundreds of activities happening on the platform per minute.

What's cool about that is you're kind of immersed in this world.

We send a text to everyone at 11 AM EST on Thursdays. We say the drop is here, come grab your Claim (discount or reward to try a new brand). People look forward to that. I've had students tell me that the Claim is a bright spot in their week. They look forward to this.

It's not only an excuse to try a new brand but to go with a friend. That experience brings back that social experience of trying something new together. If you're going to try a new restaurant for the first time when you associate that with a social experience, you tend to value it higher, not to mention if you do work, you're going to value that experience higher.

It's the classic Ikea effect in consumer psychology.

For the full story, you can listen to my full interview with Sam Obletz on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or by clicking the image below.

Have a productive week!


Founder of Dealroom Media