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Questions for a founder : Sharalike

While we were exploring Techcrunch Disrupt in New York last week, we were welcomed by two French entrepreneurs based in Boston who showed us Sharalike, an impressively simple yet powerful  app to manage and share mobile photos slideshows:

We decide to learn more and sat down with Etienne Leroy, Co-founder, CMO, CPO of Sharalike

In a few words, what is Sharalike ?

Etienne Leroy, Co-founder, CMO, CPO of Sharalike

Sharalike’s technology was designed to revolutionize photo and video sharing through its simple, one-stop-shop approach. Within seconds users can store, sort, enhance, create and edit photos and videos and Sharalike’s SmartShow technology brings photos and videos to life in personalized, automatically generated, but highly editable, slideshows that are compatible across all devices, so users are able to access their Smart Show anywhere!

What made you decide to launch it ?

Aymeric Vigneras, co -founder and CEO of Sharalike

The idea came to Aymeric, my partner and CEO of Sharalike when he was walking on the beach in Cape Cod with a group of friends. We took a lot of pictures and promised everyone to make a nice video montage and share it with them ‘tomorrow’. ‘Tomorrow’ never happened… He was stuck with the dilemma of how to sort, keep the best, create a slideshow and/or movie, share easily with friends across all their devices. And, like all of us with great intentions, time ultimately got the best of him (or lack thereof) and the project was scrapped, but the concept of Sharalike was born!

Can you tell us how it is funded? How big is the team currently?

Through various angel investors, family and friends from around the world we have raised just under a million dollars in two rounds of seed funding that have helped us kick off our company. We will continue to fundraise in coming weeks as the beta grows in popularity and we learn more about our market. Eventually we will operate from a ‘freemium’ model where we anticipate additional revenue to be generated. Our team currently consists of 6 full-time staff members and 5 who are part-time.

What do you think is the number one appeal for people to use sharalike ?

 The first thing we hear from our users is how much they enjoy the ease of the Sharalike product.  Here is an example of feedbacks that we gather about sharalike:

Other feedback we are also hearing pretty regularly, is how useful SmartSelection (the automatic sorting of your pictures and the selection of the best one) is in a time where it is so easy to take too many pictures.

Where do people typically share a slideshow image ? In social media, in emails, in print ?

40% of SmartShow are directly shared on social media (mainly facebook), 30% via email, and another 30% choose to copy the link (this can then be pasted either on social media or sent via email). Mobile is strong, and use of our app continues to grow.  50% of the shared slideshows are viewed on a mobile device and we anticipate that number continuing to increase.

A presentation of the SmartSelection feature

Do you plan to have a platform for people to showcase publicly their creation or do think your users prefer privacy ?

We do plan to create a wall of public Smartshows, but users will have to opt-in to make their SmartShow featured on sharalike.com. Privacy matters to us and to our users (30% are sharing by email in an effort to minimize their shows exposure).

Do you see a pattern in the type of slideshows?

Holidays, fun at work, kids, birthday are the most common but those that received the most views are the ones related to truly important moments in life : Wedding, Births, Graduations etc.

Who do you see is your typical user ?

Our typical user is someone who might love to take thousands pictures, but who also really doesn’t have the time to manage them all or, in many instances, the interest in tackling a bunch of different apps to put together a slideshow (as much as he/she likes to watch and share them). Many of our users are just starting their families, or in the middle of raising them and time is a big deal to them, as is staying connected (with what little time they have) with family and friends who are not nearby.

The slideshow creation is getting crowded What is the competitive advantage of Sharalike ?

It is crowded yes, . but many competitors are only dealing with one aspect of developing a nice slideshow – either the sorting, the slideshow creation or the storage.

Our product offers all of these resources in  in one place. Sharalike is a one stop shop experience to minimize effort and time on the part of users, and streamline the whole process through Sharalike’s app or website. We have created a product where it is simple to sort, organize and share your pictures. While there are many technical difficulties to creating this type of product, our goal is to make the ‘front-end’ user experience as streamlined (offering resources for the entire photo management process) but also as easy to use as possible – so that it will become a natural solution for anyone wanting to make or share slideshows!

Sharalike Home page

You are based in the US but have strong french roots. Where is Sharalike gong to thrive , Europe, US ? Why ?

Yes, the 2 founders are French but both have been living for years in Boston. We haven’t done any marketing actions outside the US, but the product is already spreading in Europe, South America (Brazil) and Asia, which shows that our product (with no real active promotional work on our part) is really speaking to a global question, namely how to deal with the quantity of pictures we all take – and still have time to share them around in a way that’s enjoyable for the creator and viewer.

What will be a sure sign of success ?

From a business perspective, certainly our first million users will signal that we are on the right track!

From a product perspective, this kind of user testimonial demonstrates that we are succeeding in many of the areas where we are striving to:

“thanks so much, this is beautiful! My sister in law cried over it, this is FANTASTIC…it is so easy….There is no work involve on my end, it is fast and I like that…”

What is your marketing strategy to reach the millions of amateurs shooters out there that could use your app?

Online acquisition is deep in our DNA. We are using product optimized sharing capability and gamification mechanism to drive organic and referral acquisition, blended with a more traditional online marketing mix ( SEM, SEO, Display affiliation, … ). Sharalike is also all about sharing – naturally, through our product itself – which is it’s own interesting acquisition channel.

Can you give us some insight on numbers : how many users ? How many buyers ? How many sells per month ? How many images/video uploaded ? How fast is the company growing ?

Any numbers will be obsolete as soon as you publish this article as we are still at our early stage. We reached 8000 users 2.5 months after web beta launch (the mobile came 2 weeks after) and are growing at a rate higher than 100% per month.

Sharalike will be truly successful when it reaches a critical mass of users/buyers. Where to you situate the tipping point ?

We have a tipping point around 500,000 user based on our estimations.

What are some upcoming features that we can expect to see in the near future ?

A desktop uploader is almost ready for market both for Mac and Windows.  The uploader will allow you to define the folders you want to automatically synchronize with sharalike.

A new version of the iOS app will be released in a month with new innovative features.

Today you are only able to share a slideshow. By the end of the spring, the user should also be able to share the content of an album (full or a part).

What keeps you up at night ?

My 18 month old son!

What would you like to add to Sharalike today that can’t be done because of technology restrictions?

Some effects are hard to achieve smoothly across all the device, but it is getting easier and easier as devices gets more powerful and allow us more access to GPU.

You can download the free Sharalike app from the app store.

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.

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