Standing out from the crowd as an app – and a social media one at that – can feel near-impossible.

But that’s not the case for storytelling app Unfold, which has become a global sensation after clocking up 2.2 million users within a few months of being launched.

The app is adding another 75,000 to its roster each day and has been done with zero marketing or funding.

The New York-based founding team of Alfonso Cobo and Andy McCune were inspired to act because they felt the current storytelling tools used by social media were too limited.

The duo decided to create a platform that would create beautiful and engaging stories and has grown on the back of rave reviews from celebrities like online and fashion and beauty vlogger  and singer Zoella.

Unfold works by uploading different pages with visuals and text which users can then also upload to other social media platforms quickly and easily. 

Cobo and McCune put their success down to the way that storytelling is changing in a digital age.

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Cobo

“We felt there was a huge opportunity for people to share their stories on mobile phones, especially in the format made popular by Snapchat and Instagram, which has really changed the way people share online – probably due to a shorter attention span and increased desire for content,” Cobo (pictured above) told BusinessCloud.

Instagram allows people to connect on a deeper level than traditional media like newspapers and other platforms, so when people tell their personal stories or struggles through our platform they can really connect with their followers.

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“Words are so powerful and you have to choose them carefully. The secret to telling stories on social is to make your point as clear and concise as possible.

“If you follow someone on Instagram you really trust them and want to hear what they’re saying. Those stories are super effective.”

McCune (below) agreed: “At the end of day words are so powerful so the secret sauce is getting to the point, being careful with the words you use and making your story as powerful as possible.”

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McCune

High-profile fans, along with some self-funding, has meant the 11-strong team has gone viral without any active marketing or external funding.

“We’ve been inundated with VC and investor requests and we’ve considered raising but opted out because want to build a cash sustainable company,” said McCune.

“Right now we have the cash flow to do it, so we’re not closing any doors but for now are staying self-funded and want to continue to grow in the most sustainable way possible.”

Instead the biggest challenge for the team has been finding a way to keep their funky culture, which has seen them throw the more traditional methods out the window.

“We don’t look at CVs – we don’t care about what experiences people have had in large companies,” said McCune.

“We truly care about values and what people can bring to the table and the stories they can tell.”

The team ask would-be employees – who usually ask to join the business via social media rather than email – to create a story on the platform and will then undertake a series of projects for their prospective team. 

The founders take an equally disruptive approach to the technical side of the business, removing a feature for every one they add.

“We try to streamline the process and take the pressure off the user to make storytelling as easy as possible,” said McCune.

“We call it ‘blank canvas paralysis’ - when you have a blank canvas and all the options in the world and don’t know where to start. Our focus is how to make the product as simple and minimal as possible to relieve that.”

“When it comes to the future of Unfold, we've got a number of big plans. The way people share has fundamentally changed and that presents us with an opportunity to not only build a great content tool, but also to build a great new social community,” Cobo told BusinessCloud. 

The duo have been collaborating with Steven Bartlett, CEO of the Social Chain Group.

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