Startup of the Week: Audiosnaps (Wired UK)


Founders Marc Sallent (left) and Daniel Rocasalbas (right)


Audiosnaps
brings sound to all your smartphone photos. The app embeds the
sound function in ordinary JPEGs so that it can be used across all
devices and browsers. It means that photo of a beach you snap on
holiday can now come complete with the sound of lapping
waves. Handsets today already have, “all the hardware they
need for taking and play Audiosnaps,” comment founders Marc Sallent
and Daniel Rocasalbas, developers with a background in advertising.
As of 1 July, the Audiosnaps app — available for free on Google
Play and iTunes — comes pre-installed in all Sony Xperia handsets,
and version 2.0 has just launched with a total redesign, new sound
capture functions and an activity feed.

Founders: Marc Sallent and Daniel
Rocasalbas
Launched: September 2013
Headquarters: Barcelona
Staff: 3
Funding: Wayra accelerator. Seed round with
101Startups and Lanta Digital ventures. Second round due in a few
weeks.

What problem do you solve?

Until now, photography has been able to capture only images, not
moments. There was a lot of emotion and a big part of the
environment that got lost along the way. With Audiosnaps, users
begin to capture moments, not only images. With the same effort put
on taking a regular picture, they get better results — more vivid
and realistic. Something closer to the real moment that they lived.
After black and white photography, colour photography, digital and
social photography, it’s time to add something else. Audiosnaps is
the next step in photography.

How do you plan to make money?

There are three lines that can be followed. The first one is to
license our technology to camera makers, smartphone makers,
developers and independent developers and to other services such as
social networks, check-in apps, dating apps. The second one is the
user’s monetisation, through advertising or another model like
music-purchase or micropayment to get new features. It’s
interesting to see how a very specific dialogue related to pictures
and sound has emerged in our social network between our users. We
are starting to implement ideas based on that dialogue.

Who do you view as your competitors?

Our main competitors are other photography social networks. They
are the networks that have the users that now are coming to
Audiosnaps. However, we see ourselves as a very good complement to
their services. As we said, we think about Audiosnaps as the next
step in photography so we are opening a path that any photography
service will follow.

Where did you get the idea for the
business?


Audiosnaps was born when we noticed that pictures didn’t capture
everything that we were living — there was a lack on emotion and
many moments were not shared correctly. There were specific
situations that triggered the idea, but we all could see that any
photography could be improved with sound. We carried out huge
research on the subject and tried the format with many volunteers
to see if our initial idea made sense before going ahead with the
company.

How would you sum up your company ethos?

Audiosnaps was born to help users to better capture their moments,
so our main goal is to keep doing that. We have to listen to their
suggestions constantly and make sure the product is functional for
them. 

What’s the biggest misconception about your
business?


The first question after our pitch is always ‘Why don’t you take a
video?’. We think video is perfect when you want to tell a story,
but photography is perfect to capture a moment. If you use one
instead of the other you usually get the wrong results. We all
perfectly know when we need to make a video or take a photography,
what we want is to improve photography so, with the same effort,
users get better results. Still today, 85 to 90 percent of media
captured with mobile devices are pictures. We want to improve
those.

What pushed you to stop talking about launching a
startup to actually doing it?


In our previous company, which was also founded by us, our job was
to come up with ideas and build them for others (usually for the
advertising, games, art-related industries). Then, the idea for
Audiosnaps appeared but we immediately saw that the potential was
much bigger than anything that we had been working on
before. To stop working for others and focus full time on
Audiosnaps was a very natural step to take.

Can you express in some tangible terms how the business
has developed?


After closing our first investment round we began testing on small
marketing campaigns. In a few months we got our first 100,000 users
with almost no investment. After that, and in only three more
months, we got to 200,000. In that time, more than six million
audiosnaps had been seen and listened to. But one of the most
important milestones has been to be included as a featured app in
all Sony Xperia devices. Everybody who has a Sony smartphone can
see Audiosnaps integrated in their native camera, so the user
growth now is much higher than in the previous months.

What has been the most challenging time for the
company?


The first big difficulty has been to come up with the technical
solution, a way to embed sound in a JPEG in a non-breaking way. We
knew that for the format to spread, we needed a universal format –
something that didn’t present a technological barrier. That, and of
course a way of taking pictures with sound that didn’t need people
to change their habits. After that, everyday is a challenge: we are
a team of only three people and absolutely everything is built
in-house: design, UI/UX, business development, marketing, app and
backend development, funding…

How did you overcome that?

We dedicated eight months to this R&D process and we finally
found this unique way to embed audio in an image file that is
compatible with all devices and browsers (and we patented it in the
US). For the second part: seeing how our users appreciate and
understand our solution and capture incredible moments (we have
dozens of audiosnaps taken of kids being born, right in the
delivery room) really helps the morale of the whole team in the
most stressful moments.

What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given
you?


Surround yourself with a good team — people capable of seeing
challenges instead of problems.

Which businessperson do you most admire and
why?


Miguel Ares, currently Marketing Director for Burberry Europe. I
have never seen somebody pursue an objective like him and create
huge, successful campaigns and events out of wicked, crazy ideas
that most people would deem as “impossible”.

What is your biggest barrier to future
success?


We are now focused on getting more and more people in our social
network. We have learnt that our users understand and appreciate
the format, but need somebody near them to be convinced that “they
are doing the right thing in the right place”, and that would be
their real friends. So we do not need to just grow — that can even
be bad in many cases — but to grow organically, but very fast and
cheap. Our strategies are working very well at this stage, but we
have to finetune them non-stop to adapt them to the different kinds
of users and needs that they have. If we are able to adapt our
strategies and team to the growth of the network, everything will
be all right.

Do you think your business is a contender for Startup of the
Week? Email Liat Clark on pitches@wired.co.uk

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1 August 2014 | 4:10 pm – Source: wired.co.uk

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