Founder of app Rave Relay raves about relaying message of unity

Homegrown startup Rave Relay seeks to reinvent social messaging by putting ideas before individuals

Tucked away in the far corner of Changemaker Central, a small studio in the Memorial Union dedicated to social change and entrepreneurship, Adrian Gillette stood surrounded by an audience of ASU students seated in office chairs. 

Gillette, clad in the traditional Silicon Valley jeans and a t-shirt, is the founder of Rave Relay, a messenger app designed to revolutionize the way its users socialize online.

"Facebook is great in the sense that it showed what the possibility was in this social network space, but I think that there's an opportunity for something different," Gillette said. "That's what Rave Relay is."

It's an opportunity that Gillette said he has embraced wholeheartedly, prompting him to quit his job at online financial advisor Personal Capital. Since then, Gillette said that the road has been challenging but rewarding.

"The response from everybody was 'When you get funding, then let's talk,'" Gillette said. 

But even getting the funding proved difficult.

"Investors are always going to say it's a waste of time, that's the thing," he said. "You have to be really thick-skinned. They want to see something, they don't want to hear you talk about it. They want you to show them."

He proceeded to turn on a smartphone connected via a chain of wires and laptops to the large flickering display behind him. On that display, Rave Relay came to life.

Gillette said that his app is about ideas, not individuals.

"Rave Relay isn't set up so that you say 'These are the people I want to talk to,'" Gillette said. "It's set up so you say, 'This is what I want to talk about.'" 

Gillette then showed off one of Rave Relay's crowning achievements. 

A vast web of orange and blue bubbles exploded out from the center of the screen. Each bubble had a name and showed how each of the people in the conversation knew each other.

rave relay - Android Apps on Google Play

As Gillette put the app through its paces, showing off its interface and features, some were skeptical about the app's originality. 

Alexander Paul, an ASU business student who has already had a hand in three separate startup ventures, said Gillette's app was similar to group messaging service GroupMe. Others noted that the app shared a number of features with messaging apps like Slack and Facebook messenger. 

Though a few members of the audience seemed unsure about the feature's real use, Gillette said that it's a way of visualizing the conversation and the different interests of its members. This concept of community and shared interests pervaded his entire visit to the Entrepreneurship + Innovation event.

"He'd been reaching out to ASU, actually, about opportunities to get in touch with the students, and I said 'I'll totally take you on'," Jamee Lind, the president of Entrepreneurship + Innovation, said.

"It's beautiful," Lind said. "So I was very interested in the fact that he created it himself."

Gillette said his success is due to the skills he developed in Silicon Valley and the sense of community there. 

"People there aren't looking to get the biggest slice of the pie they can get, they're more about making the pie bigger," he said. 

Correction: Due to a reporting error, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the app was in the invite-only stage. It is fully available. 

Reach the reporter at or follow @deadrick_sam on Twitter.

Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter.

Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.