After working in the venture capital world for 25 years and investing in over 150 companies, Andy Goldfarb is building his own startup — and it’s in the realm of something that Goldfarb is very passionate about: capturing life’s most important moments.
People take hundreds of thousands of photos every day and yet, there are two problems that still haven’t been solved, Goldfarb says. For one, there’s still no easy way for a group of people to capture and easily share photos in an easy-to-access stream. Secondly, the act of taking photos can be a distracting affair, especially if you’re trying to post them to social networks in real-time — which I found myself doing Sunday at my wife’s graduation.
Goldfarb wants to solve those problems with Photo Butler, his new app that promises to make it easy for groups to share photos in real-time as an event happens. Goldfarb co-founded the startup with Joe Cuccinelli, a former executive at Nanigans and Quattro Wireless; and David Benaim, a former executive at mobile messaging solutions and m-Qube. Goldfarb was previously a board member for both Quattro and m-Qube.
The Photo Butler app, which is currently available on iOS devices, allows users to create or schedule a photo stream for any event and then invite others to contribute. Users can take photos using their own camera app or Photo Butler’s in-app camera. Whenever a photo is taken, it’s automatically uploaded to the stream, and the app sorts out the best photos using algorithms that look for qualities that best match the kind of event that’s happening. For example, if it’s a wedding, the app will try to find the sharpest photos of the bride and groom. For athletic events, the app will have more tolerance for some blur in photos.
“If you find a photo easier and you’re able to stay fully present, it really makes a big difference in your life, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Goldfarb says.
While the app is free for consumers, Goldfarb says his company is exploring various ways to monetize it in the future. One potential way could be through event organizers that want to give people another way to engage with their events. Photo Butler has already been used for this year’s Pan-Mass Challenge, where 600 people shared 9,000 photos over the course of the event. It has also been used by the national Bridal Wars competition, with over 800 people sharing more than 7,500 photos across eight events.
Beyond events held by partnering organizations, Photo Butler has also found traction at private events where photo streams have been set up. The company found that about one-third of guests contribute to streams for events like weddings, birthday parties and corporate events. The number of photos per event typically range from 500 to 1,500. To date, nearly 100,000 photos across 3,100 streams have been processed on the app.
While Photo Butler appears to be taking a unique approach to the photo-sharing genre, the big question is whether or not people are interested in adding another photo-sharing app to their phone. Goldfarb thinks people will be, and what could help is the way the app is shared organically to users when someone is setting up a stream.
“It really is quite core to everything I’ve done for a long, long time,” Goldfarb says.
Goldfarb, co-founder and executive managing director at Globespan Capital Partners, says he has invested an undisclosed amount of his own money into Photo Butler, and the company currently has 15 employees working in an office at One Boston Place. He says an Android version could come out by the end of the year.