(Photo by Flickr user Mattias Karlsson, used under a Creative Commons license)
As do the left and right hand come together in prayer, so too can money and religion jointly make a startup.
Make way for ePray.com, a new social platform for prayer requests founded by two Evangelical Christian entrepreneurs.
“You might use Facebook to talk to friends or find friends, you might go to LinkedIn for work, you might go to Twitter for news,” said ePray CEO Tom Freiling, who is based in Warrenton, Va. “But you go to ePray for spiritual support.”
The platform offers a constant stream of prayer updates. It’s at least one step ahead of this:
Each post is up to 150 characters long and may or may not include a selfie. Users can also peruse the prayers by category — cancer, marriage, money, etc. — to find righteous company.
“Praying my heart goes back to its normal rhythm. #pray,” one user wrote.
“Please pray for my protection from my creditors while I work things out with them,” said another.
ePray seeks to elevate all prayers equally; it does not offer friending or repost options. “It’s not a popularity contest,” said Freiling.
That said, there is a degree of curation: “Instead of a like button, we have a pray button,” he explained.
Freiling is a serial Christian entrepreneur — he’s regularly adapted startup trends to cater to religious groups.
In 2000, he founded Xulon Press, an internet-based religious book publisher. In 2008, he launched Samaritan Fundraising, a company that made shopping discount cards for churches and other groups to sell for fundraising.
Both companies were later acquired by a California-based Christian media conglomerate called Salem Communications.
The concept for ePray.com came to the company’s cofounder Matthew Piercey during a mission trip to Kosovo. There, Piercey, who now lives in Illinois, found himself isolated from his brethren.
“He was in a location where he could not easily call people on the phone,” said Freiling. “He simply thought at the time it would be great if he was able to seek out and find prayer even as far away as he was.”
Piercey met Freiling at a business meeting, they struck up a friendship and eventually worked together to design the platform.
After some beta testing, ePray.com launched in March. It’s now got a couple thousand users, according to Freiling.
— ePray (@everyonepray) July 8, 2015
ePray.com is surely a place for spiritual interactions, but it is also a profit-seeking startup.
Freiling, who says the company has raised $750,000 from various private investors in the Chicago and D.C. areas, envisions an advertisement-based revenue model.
There is nothing incongruous about appending ads — for nonprofits and aid relief organizations, possibly — to a stream of prayer prompts, he said.
“On my personal Facebook page, I see people asking for prayer, or on Twitter. And of course, there’s a lot of advertising on those platforms,” said Freiling.
Though the platform is “not affiliated or associated with any sort of ticket or denomination,” Freiling said, it is “predominantly” Christian and will be marketed for Christians.
Freiling has served on the campaign of Jim Inhofe, a conservative Senator from Oklahoma. Freiling later founded a SuperPAC to back Tea Party candidates during the campaigns leading to the 2012 elections.
But, said Freiling, “Our vision for [ePray] is that it not become a place for political debate.”
Instead, join your hands and let your prayers be heard.-30-
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