By Avigayil Kadesh
Snap a picture with your iPhone. Then upload it to a split template via the new Israeli mobile app Pixplit
and invite friends to add related photos to the open areas. Voila, a finished composite.
“There are almost 13,000 photo apps on the App Store but ours is the only one that lets you collaborate with others in a visual dialogue,” says Pixplit co-founder Yovav (Jay) Meydad. “A photo typically has one area of content, while on Pixplit it’s divided into two to four parts.”
One example he recently showed visiting journalists was a three-part image on the theme of underground trains. The originator uploaded a picture of the London Underground. A friend added a shot of New York City’s subway, and a friend of that friend completed the split with a photo of the Milan Metro.
“People are becoming architects and blending all kinds of images, like the Dizengoff Tower in Tel Aviv with one of New York’s skyscrapers, and applying a filter to build something really cool,” says Meydad.
The free app, run on Google Cloud Storage, is a social network complete with user profiles and the ability for friends to follow each other. “We have a feed showing all the completed splits,” says Meydad.
“I can comment and ‘like’ just like on Instagram. But we’re different because we have a ‘playground’ where I see the splits that have at least one open slot waiting to be populated. I can join with the tap of a button: Snap photo, add filter, upload. All followers will now see the completed split in their feed and they can interact with me around it.”
For now, you can choose from six templates
Pixplit’s founders started development in May 2012, attracted angel funding and officially opened on October 17 when the company was named best new startup at StartTWS
startup launch competition in Tel Aviv.
A new form of consumer engagement
Meydad and his co-founders have a business model in mind for Pixplit.
Premium features such as additional templates may be downloaded for a fee, but the main money-making concept is recruiting corporate sponsors in order to take social marketing to a different level. In each user’s feed, every few splits will be sponsored ones roughly matched to the user’s age, gender and location.
“We have communicated with top ad agencies and they are excited about new ways to engage with users,” says Meydad.
“Brands measure the number of likes or tweets or retweets concerning their product or service. That is not as strong as starting a campaign on Pixplit,” he says. “Let’s say Nike could begin with the Nike swoosh in the first frame, and friends will add variations – maybe a kid playing basketball wearing Nike sneakers. It allows brands and users to create campaigns together.”
What if any of the added photos are offensive or counterproductive to Nike’s marketing strategy?
“If the creator of a split isn’t happy about a specific photo, we provide a mechanism to delete it,” assures Meydad. “We also have a mechanism to report usage of copyrighted materials and will delete that split. We want to keep Pixplist a safe place to collaborate.”
Not for couples only
Pixplist’s origin was a student project at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Tel Aviv. Adi Binder, now the company’s director of product and design, developed the concept of an app for couples to manage their communication in one space with chat, video, messaging and co-created photos.
His serial-entrepreneurial friends Jay Meydad and Nir Holtzman Ninio thought about adding a viral aspect.
A two-frame Pixplit creation
“After some brainstorming, Adi, Nir and me, and Gil Barzilay -- a fourth co-founder no longer a member of the team -- decided not to limit ourselves to couples, but to make it something anyone could participate in,” says Meydad.
“On social networks such as YouTube, only a small percentage of users are creators, because creating content is hard. With Pixplit, it’s easy to be an active user,” says Meydad, who previously was VP-product at a US company that runs 30 dating sites and then at Snap.com. Most recently, he and Nir started Hitpad, a top iPad news application.
“At some point Nir and I said, ‘Hitpad is nice, but it’s not growing to tens of millions of users.’ We need a service where virality is in its DNA.”
What he especially relishes is the ability to span degrees of separation.
“When I create a three- or four-part split, the first degree is those directly connected to me, the second degree of separation is those connected to the people I’m connected to, and the third is the friends of my friends’ friends. Pixplit is the first app that uses the concept of connecting with people in the third degree of separation.”
He reports that CTO Holtzman Ninio is busy working on an Android version of the app.