All social media is all about connecting users via content. First users establish a core network of relations and via content sharing ( mostly visuals) it maintains and grows that network. But what if content was put first and the network second (or not at all). That is exactly what Splore is now offering. In a way, it levels the playing field as no one has the advantage of coming in with a huge following ( like celebrities). Instead, each one can compete for popularity in one of the many content channels only via their pure visual talent. It’s about photos first. We sat down with co-founders Chris Karimian and Ben Swinford to learn more :
A little about you, what is your background?
Two years ago, founder and CEO Chris Karimian brought together a group of individuals with specialized skill sets to create Splore. One of the first additions to the Splore team was lead developer, Yifan Zhou. Yifan is a 22 year old coding phenom who graduated at the top of his Master’s in Computer Science class at the University of Southern California. Lead designer, Samy Abbas, joined the Splore team as a top UX designer in the Los Angeles area and ensured that Splore’s design was seamless and beautiful. The Splore team has grown to a dynamic unit with unique skill sets and ethnicities. Each employee comes from a different region of the world which enables Splore to utilize a truly global perspective.
What does Splore solve and how does it work?
Splore is the first photo sharing app that focuses on spreading content organically without relying on friends or followers. There are two features that truly make Splore unique. First, Splore users do not follow people. Instead, users have the ability to follow hashtags. This feature is crucial because it allows users to see content that they truly love. Second, Splore follows an upvote model. This feature sets the app apart because it allows users to vote on photos that they like. As a result, good quality photos will get the coverage they deserve, and the ones with the most upvotes will trend. We crowd-source everyone’s decisions and allow users to be in charge of what images should trend every day.
What about supported formats: 360, VR, video, Gifs?
Video is very important for social media, and comprises a huge portion of the content that users consume on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. We do plan to roll out the ability to have videos in our next version. In the meantime, we have received great feedback on our VR-type experience users get through our signature ability to utilize their phone’s internal gyroscope when viewing full-screen images.
Can I create my own hashtag or do I have to use one that exists already?
Users have the ability to create their own hashtags and form their own community. Or, they can use a preexisting hashtag and contribute to a community that has already been formed. When adding a hashtag into the caption of a photo you want to post, you will be able to see how many people are following that hashtag.
The simple answer to this question is that it really depends on your definition of social media. If social media to you means a peer-to-peer sharing platform between family members, friends, and acquaintances, then yes, Splore is anti-social media because it does not allow users to follow other individuals. But, if your definition of social media is peer-to-peer sharing among people that have not met before, then no, Splore would be considered a social media platform.
We truly believe that there is a market for consuming amazing content by individuals you have never met before and Splore definitely caters to that audience.
Who do you expect your main users will be and why?
Currently, Splore is experiencing a proliferation of users in creative fields, like photography, art, and fashion. We believe that this phenomenon is due to designers and artists wanting to promote their work in an image-based content platform.
Splore is free. How do you intend to generate revenue?
Companies are depending more and more on hashtag campaigns for their brands. Some famous examples are #JustDoIt for Nike and #BeAHero for GoPro. We believe that the best way to generate revenue on Splore’s platform is to utilize the popularity and reach of hashtag campaigns. Since Splore users follow hashtags, we will charge brands to feature their hashtag campaign to potential followers. By collecting interests from users, we can sell specialized advertisements to our users because we already know what they are interested in based on the hashtags they follow.
You have put a lot of thoughts into a beautiful interface. Do you think it’s key to a successful photo app, more than the features?
The interface goes hand in hand with the features because the interface acts as the framework where all the features exist. By providing a clean and inviting interface, we empower our users to be aware of and utilize the array of features.
What would you like to see Splore offer that technology cannot yet deliver?
Splore wants to offer an equal playing field for all users who feel like their content deserves more exposure. Current technology has done a great job catering to those who have built a voice but has done very little to cater to those who have not gotten the chance to build their voice, or do not know how. Splore is for the painter who is not famous but should be. Splore is for those artists who want to reach other up-and-coming artists and inspire them with their work. Ultimately, Splore is about constant discovery, which technology does not currently offer. Every single photo a user consumes comes from a new person, who holds a fresh perspective and a unique style the user has not seen before.
Additionally, we’ve taken advantage of the latest iOS capabilities to put our product a step ahead of the competitors: gyroscope technology, parallax effect, larger pixel counts for more beautiful images, efficient image caching, and more.
Splore is now available for download and is free
Photo by jurvetson
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.