Spreading Like Bonfyre

 In Culture, Guide

Two St. Louisans are responsible for the latest social media whirl.


The latest social app to hit the smartphone world takes a more personal approach to sharing than many of us are used to. Bonfyre, developed by a couple of Wash U grads from their office in The Hill, was born from a frustration with the increasingly public world of social media. It’s organized around events, called bonfyres, and allows users to chat and share photos with other attendees.

Co-founder and CEO Mark Sawyier says the big difference from other social networks is that Bonfyre users share information based on shared experiences instead of on an ever-growing collection of connections. Simply put, you don’t have to connect with someone in a way that shares your entire life in order to exchange photos from an event you were both at. The logic, as co-founder and Director of Communications Ray Gobberg puts it, is that you live life through experiences, so it makes perfect sense to share that way, too. Whether a bonfyre is for a friend’s birthday party or a major-league sporting event, you can be sure you’re only sharing with the people who care what you have to say. In a world where the average Facebook user has a friend count in the triple digits and brands amass hordes of followers, this is surprisingly rare.

Bonfyre officially launched at DEMO, a startup conference in Santa Clara, CA, on Oct. 2—and came away named by TechCrunch as one of the 14 most interesting products to emerge from the conference. A few days later, the big launch at home in STL came through a partnership with the St. Louis Rams to connect fans during a home game.

Other event partnerships with local groups and publications, including ALIVE, have sprung up along the way, in addition to some events in Chicago and a conference in Indiana. On their own, Bonfyre users around the world have started using it for a diverse range of events, but also as a platform for purposes the founders never expected—like private discussions about the presidential election. The traction, while exciting, has also proven helpful for the Bonfyre team—users of all levels are continually giving feedback on how to make the app better. “It’s been incredible validation for the problem we’re solving,” Sawyier says. Learn more and download the app at bonfyreapp.com.







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