Blurtt: iPhone Photo Sharing App Worth +1,000 Words; Interview with CEO Jeanette Cajide

May 20, 2012

12:00 pm

If you’ve ever sent or received a text message, then there’s a 99.99% chance that some (or all) of your intended meaning was lost in translation.  Without body language, tone-of-voice, or any other non-verbal cue that we would otherwise pick up on during a face-to-face interaction, text messages often fall victim to misinterpretation.

This is the reason for the creation of Blurtt, an iPhone app that helps you express how you feel with pictures.

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a message with an image is worth more. Our mission is to help people say what they really mean to say so they can better express themselves digitally,” says Jeanette Cajide, co-founder and CEO of Blurtt.

The founding team – which consists of Cajide, Kuba Tymula, and Laura Gurasich – all met while at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern.  They have been hard at work on their latest photo sharing venture since 2010, albeit from different cities.

I caught up with Cajide to learn more about the inspiration behind Blurtt, what surprises her team has encountered along the way, and what advantages there are to starting up in Dallas.

Tech Cocktail: What was the inspiration behind Blurtt?

Jeanette Cajide: So many important conversations today happen over email, text and even social media, and yet there is no good way to convey emotion, tone or meaning. Emoticons have become the digital representation of emotion or feelings across the Internet, but a smiley face can mean a lot of things. Are you being sarcastic, or sweet, or condescending?

Tech Cocktail: What surprises have you encountered since launching Blurtt?

Cajide: As part of the design, I wanted Blurtts to look uniform so that the branding was consistent, and I had a hard time deciding whether or not to keep the text box. I was out-voted by the rest of the team. We launched in private beta and asked our users what they thought, and this time I was out-voted by the users. What really surprised me was the creativity of the users in how they use the text box. Here are two examples that we saw within the first few days of launch.

(Editor's Note: Amazing)

Another surprise that we’ve found was that small businesses have been using Blurtt to create ads for their business.  As a result, we built an SDK and have our first partnership.

Tech Cocktail: What drew your team away from Evanston to Dallas?

Cajide: We all met at Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management, but the team has worked mostly virtually. I am in Dallas with the engineering and design team, Laura is in Austin, so I spend a lot of time there as well, and Kuba, our other cofounder, is in New York City, where he keeps up with the digital media community there.  By being spread out, we can really leverage multiple networks, and you will see why this has been important to us below.

Jeanette Cajide

Blurtt CEO and co-founder Jeanette Cajide

Tech Cocktail: What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of starting up in Dallas?

Cajide: In Dallas, because there are fewer of us here doing anything as crazy as a startup, I felt very supported. What I have here in Dallas are champions, not advisors. My champions Lea Nesbit and Trey Bowles are two successful Dallas entrepreneurs who have helped me manage the roller coaster that is a startup.

The biggest disadvantage is funding. Dallas investors historically are hesitant to invest in social media startups. I think that Instagram acquisition and Facebook IPO validates that there is value in this space. I hope we see more angel and seed investors consider investing in these type of startups. Texas has more Fortune 500 companies headquartered here than in NY or California, and the cost of living is manageable, particularly for a startup. No entrepreneur should ever have to leave this state because of lack of funding opportunities.

Blurtt was one the startups recently featured at the Dallas Tech Cocktail Mixer.  Download their free iPhone app here.  

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When Zach Davis isn’t getting lost in the mountains, he is hustling from Boulder, CO as Tech Cocktail’s Director of Marketing. He is the author of Appalachian Trials, a book chronicling the mindset necessary for thru-hiking all 2,181 miles of the Appalachian Trail, a feat he accomplished in 2011. Zach is a green tea enthusiast, die-hard Chicago sports fan, and avid concert-goer. Follow Zach on Twitter: @zrdavis.

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