Religious as it is, the startup is actually agnostic. Pray.com is a mobile app that will enable any religious congregation and its leaders to form a community online. It’s similar to a social network for the faithful if you will. Pray.com has announced that it has received 2 million dollars in seed funding from an accelerator named Science Inc., which has also funded the Dollar Shave Club and DogVacay, along with VC investors Greylock Partners and Spark Capital.
Pray.com was founded in 2016 by Steve Gatena, Michael Lynn, Ryan Beck and Matthew Potter. The founders conceptualized Pray.com to be the app that will allow leaders of a religious community to send alerts for prayer times and even inspiring content, to their congregants. The app also has features that allow collecting donations and group chats. Interestingly enough Pray.com was ideated during the Laudato Si’ Fellowship held in Rome. It’s similar to a startup accelerator in nature; it was inspired by Pope Francis and is guided by Cardinal Peter Turkson, a front runner to succeed the present Pope Francis.
CEO of Pray.com, Gatena decided to develop such an app following emotional upheavals which included fatalistic injuries that put an end to his Air Force career and death of a dear friend and comrade.
At present, religious communities do engage with social media and technology to keep in touch with each other and their faith. You have your mix of chain text messages, prayer hotlines and YouTube content from various religious communities. However it continues to be a challenge to manage communications when the congregation is too large and involve multiple levels of hierarchy within the community. What Pray.com does is give these communities tools to solve such communication snags. In its beta stage, Pray.com reports it tested app effectiveness using a 100 communities of varying sizes.
TechCrunch reports investor Peter Pham the cofounder of Science Inc. as saying, “Steve [Gatena] is one of those rare CEOs who has that vision and drive to change the world…Given the amount of chaos in the world right now, I think Pray.com is something everyone needs right now.”
After Pray.com reaches a level where it could begin monetizing, it will do so by including paid-for services that will appeal to its users of faith. According to TechCrunch, the Pray.com CEO says they will spend the duration of their course with the Laudato Si’ Fellowship seeking “a profitable business model that aligns with our vision, mission, and values”.
CatholicPhilly says Pray.com offers social network for prayer, community-building
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Convinced that faith communities would want to share prayer requests, announcements and service opportunities without going to multiple platforms and without being awash in advertising, a group of friends created an app just for that.
With $2 million in seed money, Pray.com was beta tested with 100 churches in 2016. Today, 6,000 faith communities and thousands of other groups use the app to host their members’ need for prayer and offers of support, as well as to recruit volunteers for local service projects and to collect donations, said two of the co-founders.
The faith-social app Pray 2.0 is designed specifically not to “gamify” the experience of the parishes, mosques, synagogues, churches and temples that use it, Matthew Potter, one of the app’s co-founders, told Catholic News Service April 23.
“What big social media does is gamified to get more eyes on more ads,” he said. People become obsessed, consciously or not, with attracting followers and likes, which in turn gives the advertising a wider market.
The communities that set up one of the closed groups on Pray.com and the community members who join those groups pay nothing. Pray.com does not accept advertising but earns money by taking a small percentage of the donations it facilitates for the groups.
Potter and co-founder Michael Lynn were at the Vatican in late April where Pray.com was used as the community platform of choice for Humanity 2.0, a gathering of financiers, philanthropists, artists, tech experts, physicians, politicians and religious leaders who came together to discuss ways to work together to make a positive impact on the world.
As a first step, they decided to raise $100,000 to give to Pope Francis. The donations and pledges are being made through the app.
But participants, who were not part of a community before the April 19 event at the Vatican, also used the app to pray for safe travel, to comment positively on each other’s presentations and to share news once they were back home.