Everything – ALL Your Photos & Videos in One Place
You know, when Kevin and I first started Birdbox eight months ago, it was based on previous experience and research on a hypothesis that people’s photos and videos are scattered all over the place: on social networks, multiple computers and hard drives, phones, pads, and cloud storage, and that this scattered mess caused problems for people. Problems he and I experienced daily, and enough people told us the same. Our most emotionally valuable possession is certainly a fragmented mess. We set out to solve a problem for me and you, as individuals. A tool to help bring all (“everything”) of our personal photos and videos together in to one place.
Over the summer of 2012, during TechStars Boulder, we talked to hundreds of people about the problem, market, and the product and built a heavy quantity of code, user experience, and product, all in an effort to Build — Learn — Repeat. And boy did we. I’ve never been more impressed with a group of people capable of conceptualizing, designing, and building product — especially while knowing it might not make it to primetime and may (er, likely) end up being more of a prototype to learn from.
Sure, there are lots of ways to validate a hypothesis. And many people never write a line of code before they believe they’ve confirmed their thinking. But if you have the right team, there’s truly no better way to find out how right (or more likely wrong) you are than to build something super fast, get it in people’s hands you trust, and let them tell you what they think. So we built “everything”…in just a few short months:
- We built hooks in to 16 different social networks, photo services, video services, and cloud storage
- We built a Web interface to connect and manage everything
- We built a prototype iPhone app (using Titanium) to let you connect services, browse and search, and sync your camera roll photos
- We built a prototype Mac app to sync data from drives to Birdbox
- We built an auto-updating aggregation engine to collect all that data
- We built search so you could search keywords across this data and find what you’re looking for
- We built filtering features to see your stuff by the most liked, most commented, date, service, and more
- We built tagging and organization
- We built group sharing so families and friends could collect photos and videos together without having to change their use of other photo-oriented apps
- We had analytics baked into every nook and cranny of the app to measure usage and user behavior.
The goal was to learn fast, fail fast (if necessary), and adequately measure behavior to determine what people really want. We did that, and have since poured that intelligence into a completely new version of Birdbox that will be released next month. Something we’re VERY excited about, and are confident you will be too!
The Shift from Everything to Everyone
What we’ve learned (amongst countless details) was two-fold:
- Individual consumers absolutely have a photo/video management problem (generally speaking). That’s fo’ sho’. Their media is scattered all over the place, and it’s largely a mess. While many people care about their messy problem, many don’t. A lot like messy bedrooms — some care, some don’t.
- The thing people cared about the most was how problematic it can be when you take an individual consumer with a messy photo problem and group them with a bunch of other people who each have the same messy photo problem. Vacations, events, weddings, families, and even just “topics” — all of these group-oriented use cases suffer from the network effect of multiple people with messy photo problems.
This is why we’re focused now on “everyONE” in your life of photos, and your Birdbox will be made of “Nests” — Albums with Friends. Nests bring together groups of people to collect and contribute photos and videos in a shared album where nest members have a beautiful visual and conversational experience. It’s pretty awesome. In that second to last bullet point above, you’ll note we had built something like this in version 1 of our product. And what we learned in the months we spent during our alpha is that it turned out to be the most used feature, had the most positive response from our many alpha users, and was clearly the “winner” out of everything we built — by far.
With the next version of our product, friends and families will have a fantastic, simple solution to collect photos with lots of people without having to change their use of their other favorite photo-oriented apps. We’re excited to share more in the coming weeks about what Nests are, how they work, and how you can start using them.