UD alumni Benjamin Klein (left, holding check) and Kenneth Wallach (right, holding check), winners of the Hen Hatch startup funding competition, have launched Anniversary, an iPhone photo and video app designed to let users share content in authentic ways.

Anniversary app

UD graduates launch Anniversary, unique iPhone photo and video app

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7:49 a.m., July 29, 2014--Social media as we know it has just taken a surprising turn. Picture an Instagram that’s not instant, a Facebook post that can’t be “liked” or a Twitter comment that can’t be re-tweeted. That’s the idea behind Anniversary, a new iPhone application that allows users to privately surprise their friends and family with digitally gift-wrapped photos and videos delivered on a future date.

The brainchild of 2013 University of Delaware graduates Benjamin Klein and Kenneth Wallach, Anniversary takes the instant gratification of today’s social media and turns it on its head, appealing to users who are maybe a bit more sentimental, a bit more private and who love surprises.

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Picture this: you’re out with friends and someone does something funny; you’re at a concert and win a backstage pass to meet the performers; or you’re on a memorable first date. You capture the moment but you don’t want to share it – not yet, anyway. Instead, you tag your friends and set a delivery date in the future, where they’ll unwrap a surprise photo or video from you and get to relive the memory all over again.

This idea for Anniversary came to Wallach in June 2012, when he was spending time with friends and realized they had all been together at their high school prom at exactly that date and time three years ago. Recalling a moment when one friend lost her date to the dessert table, Wallach wished he could recapture that image and share it with his friends.

“We said to ourselves, ‘Imagine if we got a picture right now of Kevin with cake all over his face from prom, with Julia yelling at him because they missed the slow dance,’” said Wallach. “It was a really powerful feeling and we realized there was an opportunity for an app that could bring back some of our best memories.”

What Klein and Wallach see as an added bonus of Anniversary is that it allows only those tagged in a photo or video to then appreciate the moment together, creating a more private, authentic experience.

"A lot of people ask why we chose the name Anniversary for our product," said Wallach. "We believe the word Anniversary is too limited in scope and that any moment that makes us smile deserves an Anniversary, too. So we sought to make a product that turns moments into great memories."

A startup started at UD

Klein and Wallach said that participating in Hen Hatch, UD’s premier startup funding competition run through the Horn Program in Entrepreneurship, played a key role in preparing them for what it would take to get Anniversary off the ground.

“While we were still at the concept stage of Anniversary, the resources given to us by winning Hen Hatch were crucial in getting the ball rolling for our business, and Dan's expertise and advice in shaping our investment pitch was essential in raising the necessary funds to launch the business,” said Klein of the Horn Program and its director, Dan Freeman. 

“The skills we gained while attending the University of Delaware were absolutely necessary for creating and running a company,” added Wallach. “The confidence we gained while in school enabled us to take the risk of pursuing our own business full-time after graduation. The support from the University and the Horn Program has been invaluable as we continue to grow.”

According to Freeman, Klein and Wallach are quintessential products of the Horn Program.

“Ben graduated with a degree in psychology and Ken graduated with a degree in English,” said Freeman. “They brainstormed an idea and used the Horn Program resources, which are open to students across UD regardless of major, and have been able to launch a promising entrepreneurial endeavor.” 

With its early success, Anniversary has become a full-time endeavor for Klein and Wallach, and they are putting those learned skills to use.

“We spend at least two days a week brainstorming ideas, and two to three days a week in Manhattan for meetings with our development team doing investment pitches, marketing the application and networking at events,” said Klein. 

For their latest campaign, Klein and Wallach have taken to the streets of New York, interviewing New Yorkers about their feelings on surprises, technology and their best memories and then taking photos.

Perhaps one year from now, someone will think to send Klein and Wallach their very own photo surprise to celebrate Anniversary’s early success.

Article by Kathryn Meier

Photo by Doug Baker

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