The world of photo apps is a crowded place. With thousands of different photo-taking/editing/sharing apps to choose from and more being launched every day, it is a surprise when any of them break off from the pack and gather a strong following. 3 years old PicsArt is part of that privileged group, gaining impressive traction and recently raising in the process back to back significant funding. While its co-founder Hovhannes Avoyan is no stranger to successful company building, we wanted to learn more about the secret sauce he used to make PicsArt one of the fastest growing photo app on the market.
– A little about yourself, what is your background?
I’m founder and CEO of PicsArt, which I founded over 3 years ago now, with my co-founder and COO Artavazd Mehrabyan. I’ve been a serial entrepreneur most of my career and investor into other start-ups.
I founded several other companies and sold 3 others over the past decade. I’ve had the opportunity to work with great teams of talented people throughout my career in software.
I’m actually Armenian born and remain active there with our company and as a leader in technology and innovation. I currently serve as President of UITE, the Armenian IT association.
– In a few words, what is PicsArt and what does it solve?
PicsArt is the world’s largest mobile of creatives, which now reaches 65Million MAU. We enable anyone with a mobile device to use best in class creative tools, so they can create amazing artistic work whenever inspiration hits them to beautify the world. We empower them to be creative and to self-expression, as well as share, discover, learn and be inspired by others.
– There some similarities between Picsart and Flickr, 500PX or Behance. What makes you different?
The similarities are in the fact that all of the mentioned apps deal with images and creativity – but these other products have totally different product and mission.
PicsArt is different from them because first and foremost it is for everyone, not just professional photographers. We also support many content types, like drawing, not just photography.
We’ve also focused on merging software and community within a singular experience of creation and consumption, whereas, most others are only community or only a utility function supporting a singular creative capability.
Our mission is to beautify the world by providing easy-to-use yet professional level tools and features to help anyone reveal and express their inner creativity, sharing it with a supportive community who appreciate and collaborate around image creation. We believe in open source and in collaboration between artists. PicsArt is a home to a hashtag #freetoedit, where our users share their images for free editing and invite their friends to collaborate and co-create.
– How many active users does Picsart have overall ? in which countries
PicsArt has built the largest mobile creative community with over 65M monthly active users worldwide. We continue to grow very fast. Our 250Million installs, have been organic to date and fairly evenly split between major global regions.
– Who is your target user?
PicsArt has been built from the ground up to empower anyone to any level of creative expression around different content types. When individuals are inspired, exposed, learn and given the right accessible tools; they can do amazing things. Our broad set of tools appeals to anyone – from the casual doodler to the professional photographer who wants desktop-quality editing tools on the go.
– PicsArt recently received two rounds of investment, $10 million and a few months later, $15 million. Can you explain why such proximity and where do you intend to spend it all?
We’ve experienced significant growth and after several years of being profitable we decided to bring on venture partners who could support our ongoing growth and build a much larger company to fulfill our full potential. The market is very supportive of us and we’ve had significant interest over the past year by investors.
With a unique product, strong growth and a global market we’ve had the chance to bring on great investors like Sequoia Capital and investment Partner Omar Hamoui, who is now on PicsArts board of directors. As announced Insight Venture Partners recently also invested in the company.
The funding is to accelerate our growth and opportunities, bring on more amazingly talented people to help build a better PicsArt for our community and over time achieve the full potential of our vision.
– PicsArt’s team is partly based in Armenia, can you explain why and what are the benefits?
Well, PicsArt is an Armenian founded company, so it is our home. There is also an amazing pool of developer / engineering talent in Armenia so it makes sense to keep a lot of things there. Late last year we opened an office in San Francisco as our North American headquarters as we look to diversify our team with all of the talent coming into the Bay Area. We have hired great people in SF and continue to do so actively.
– PicsArt offers in-app purchases. Is this the totality of your business model or do plan to expand in other areas like licensing content?
We have monetized through IAP as well as advertisements and sponsorship in-app. We are always exploring new and interesting pathways to revenue but have nothing specific to share at the moment. Our primary focus is on product innovation for our users, simplifying usability and growing our community.
– Who is your closest competition and what do you fear the most from them?
We think we have positioned ourselves uniquely in the market and our growth and existing scale reflects that. PicsArt is focusing on creating the best experience for content creation and a great community that embraces it. PicsArt is about empowering people create beautiful, fun and creative content that they can share within the PicsArt community or across other social channels.
– What would you like to create for PicsArt’s users that technology does not yet allow you to build?
There are many ideas within our team to drive innovation, engagement, and creation across content type – some we are now executing and some are plans for future. But we don’t disclose our roadmap.
* Note: Wilson Kriegel, Chief Business Development Officer and US General Manager of PicsArt will be speaking at Mobile Photo Connect on September 29. Kaptur is a media sponsor of the conference.
Author: Paul Melcher
Paul Melcher is the founder of Kaptur and Managing Director of Melcher System, a consultancy for visual technology firms. He is an entrepreneur, advisor, and consultant with a rich background in visual tech, content licensing, business strategy, and technology with more than 20 years experience in developing world-renowned photo-based companies with already two successful exits.