Tell me if you’ve experienced this frustration for yourself. You and a group of friends go to a major event – e.g. college football game, music festival, or technology conference. Throughout the event’s various highlights, you and your friends are snapping pictures as if you worked for TMZ and everyone was Lindsey Lohan (is she still relevant?).
Fast forward to a couple days past said event – you’re looking to relive the glory through an intense Facebook photo gazing session.
And cue the frustrations:
- One of your friends “refuses to conform” by joining Facebook. Her photos will never be seen.
- Another one of the event goers is too lazy to tag pictures, and you have to actively seek his album out.
- Another friend isn’t yet a Facebook friend. Not only can you not see the album until you officially form this digital friendship, but you (or someone) must go through the hassle of tagging you in each photo to easily find yourself for future browsing.
- You break the narcissistic mold. You want to browse all of the event’s photos, not just the ones you’re were tagged in.
- Regardless of how social media savvy your friends are, you must still browse through multiple albums to get the full retelling of the story.
And with the sheer mass of photos that are taken via smartphone and viewed on Facebook, there are solutions to the above problem, but none that take these factors into account. Until now.
Popset is a new iPhone app that solves the above headache with shared albums, easy uploading to Facebook, all the while including the photo filtering fun, similar to Instagram. In short, the app’s tagline eloquently phrases the problem they’re attempting to solve: “You and your friends are together; why aren’t your photos?”
Originally hailing from Germany, the Popset team has since headed west as a result of being accepted into Y Combinator, and they were one of the startups featured at the recent Demo Day 2012. I caught up with Popset founder and CEO Jan Senderek to learn more about the inspiration behind his new app, user acquisition strategy, and the difference between creating a user product in Germany and the US.
Tech Cocktail: What was the inspiration behind Popset?
Jan Senderek: I was always extremely passionate about photography. It all started when I first moved to Japan when I turned 16 to live with a Japanese host-family and attend a Japanese high school. Within days I was pulled into the Japanese photo taking culture and ever since I always had a camera on me. It turned into amateur photography (e.g. http://mpts.co/Fc0e) and since smartphones took over our communication I noticed how I stopped carrying my digital camera with me, because the iPhone did a pretty good job. But I was never happy with the native photos app. Apps like Instagram, which I love, are great for taking a single photo and broadcasting it – similar to how you use Twitter, but what about the moments you take more than one photo? How do I get my friends’ photos (I am in my friends’ photos and vice versa)? So me and my buddies decided to build an app that does three things right:
- Albums: I want to be able to take a bunch of photos and give them a nice look and feel in one process. Popset is the only app that does this. At the same time my photos are organized into albums as I take them.
- Groups: I can invite my friends to my albums to add their photos. I don’t have to beg for their pics anymore. We killed the pain of emailing photos!
- Facebook integration: So far it’s been a pain to get photos from your iPhone to Facebook. We allow you to upload entire sets with a single tap!
TC: What is your user acquisition strategy?
Senderek: Word of mouth. Our highest priority is to make the experience of dealing with a lot of photos better – easier and better. We believe a high quality is what will make us successful in this space.
Also, given the nature that users can invite their friends to their sets, the app is viral by itself.
TC: Can you talk about some of the greatest differences between building a consumer product in the US vs. Germany?
Senderek: Building a consumer product in Europe is more difficult for a lot of reasons. For one it’s easier to excite people for consumer products in the US, including early adopters, press and investors – this helps you as a founder to stay motivated.
But most important for us was the quality of feedback we receive in the Valley. Being able to learn from the partners at Y Combinator for instance was of immense help for us. They know how to build products for masses of users and have helped startups do this many times. We learned what to focus on and what to ignore which is extremely valuable when building a product that users actually want.
Grab the free Popset download from the iTunes App Store here.