5C Entrepreneurs Bring Swagr to Claremont

A student takes a picture at the 5Cs of a person with awesome style, a problematic poster, a sunset from the Kravis Center, or a spontaneous party thrown on Walker Beach. Imagine if that student had the ability to share that moment in time with everyone in the 5Cs yet remain anonymous and have the picture disappear after a week. Last spring, Andres-Jacques de Beer PZ ’14 decided to turn this idea into a reality.

The product of this idea is an iPhone application called Swagr, which allows users within a particular geographic range to post photos anonymously with an expiration date.

“I came up with this idea after my friend Solomzi Moleketi PZ ’14 instilled a swagger week,” de Beer said. “We all cared about our style a little more and acknowledged those who made an effort and showed off their swagger. I realized it would be awesome to show this respect for others year-round by taking photos of people we think display swag on campus and have them see that their efforts are noticed.”

De Beer discussed his idea with Carter Ruff PO ’13, who was brought on as a partner and head of marketing. Together they formulated and expanded their plan to make a college-centric app, which would allow users to see what is happening around the different campuses. When students post on the application, friends, as well as other Claremont students, will be able to see their photos.

“The local feature will allow people to see what is going on around campus and get people excited when they see photos of their friends or find out about a party going on,” Ruff said. “We hope to monitor the location settings and users so it is only college students that are uploading photos to the app.”

Much like Claremont Confessions or last year’s likealittle.com, Swagr gives users a veil of anonymity, so they are more comfortable expressing opinions without the fear of judgment while also having a fun time guessing who posted each photo. Since photos disappear after a week, embarrassing photos will not ruin someone’s chances of getting a job in five years, and all of the content stays current.

“We want to have people posting photos from parties but without the risk of it attaching to their online identity,” de Beer said.

After establishing a base at the 5Cs, Swagr hopes to spread to other colleges in California.

“California just has an accepting vibe and is open to new technology, so I feel like Swagr could do really well here,” Ruff said.

De Beer will be attending Columbia University next year, so he is considering spreading the already trademarked company to the East Coast as well. Since the location-based app would make it difficult to sort out college students from random people in big cities, the company is working on developing a “channel” system so users can look at posts specific to their college and interests.

De Beer and Ruff hope to begin promoting their app as soon as possible, but Apple has rejected the company from the App Store due to the risk of inappropriate content. The company’s developer, James Kaplan HM ’15, has been working to add filters like a report button and other limitations to ensure the app’s eventual approval.

In the meantime, the company is looking into developing an Android version and a mobile web version of the app. The wait for approval from Apple and a quickly approaching graduation make it difficult to advertise the app among Claremont students, but Swagr hopes friends will promote it next year and create a viral phenomenon on campus.

“It’s a really scary thing trying to start something new, but knowing you can is arguably the most empowering thing possible,” Ruff said.

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