The BizSpark startup of the day is TweetPhoto, based in the US. You will find below an interview with Daniel Marashlian, CTO of TweetPhoto. All the best to them and congrats for being the startup of the day!
Interview with Daniel Marashlian, CTO of TweetPhoto
Tell us who you are and your role in the company:
I’m Daniel Marashlian, the CTO of the company. I came on board with TweetPhoto six months after they launched. At which point they had 5 million unique visitors a month! Though our servers weren’t able to keep up with all of the traffic. Something drastic had to be done. We decided to rebuild the database from MySQL to MSSQL, we redid the WCF API layer for the new database schema, and we built tweetphoto.com 100% off of the API in CAKEPHP. The reason why we built the entire website off of the API was to test ourselves and to show the public the power of our open API and what you can do with it.
What did you do before creating your company?
As I said, I came on board six months after the launch of tweetphoto.com. Though before TweetPhoto, I was/am the CTO of Pelotonics (www.pelotonics.com); another BizSpark startup. With the help of my development team, we built one of the best project collaboration tools on the market. Also, I was the lead tech behind ncaa.com and the database lead for one of the world’s leading online educational institutions, Rio Salado College.
How do you feel being the most promising ‘Startup of the Day’ per Microsoft BizSpark?
I feel AMAZING! We get to positively impact almost 10 million people’s lives every day by giving them the ability to instantly share their photos with their friends and family.
What is your company’s mission?
To become the most widely used photo sharing service on the real-time web by focusing on developing the best technology available and through building solid relationships with the developer community and corporate enterprises.
How did you get the idea for your company?
Our founder Sean Callahan saw the “explosion of awesomeness” around Twitter (you can quote me on that), though the solution for sharing photos was sub-par. Photos are meant to be shared and passed through the multiple tiers of these social networks. Even the bigger photo hubs, like Photobucket and Flickr don’t “get twitter”. We’re aiming to be THE hub of instantaneous photo sharing on the internet.
Tell us about your funding history. Are you currently looking for funding? If so, how much?
So far we’ve bootstrapped the entire project. Recently we’ve partnered with Kodak (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/11/17/kodak-tweetphoto/) which has helped pay some bills, though more importantly securing the idea that photos are important to people’s everyday lives. Though for the past 3 months we’ve been talking to some venture capital firms in California and New York. We’re looking to raise 4-6 million in Series-A funding.
How many employees do you have? How many developers?
9 employees, 3 developers (me being one of them).
Are you hiring? If yes, what are you hiring and where?
YES! We’re looking for:
2 front end developers (one experienced and one entry level)
1 expert API developer (must know WCF)
And a community manager/customer service lead
Sean (the founder) and I believe in providing the BEST customer service in the industry. Unlike most web companies today, we don’t hide behind our support email address. Anyone can call us directly on our "Bat Phone" at 760.230.5579
Which platform are you building on? Why?
The whole backend of TweetPhoto is in Microsoft technologies. My background is with Microsoft as well as our lead API developer. Though our architect is an expert on the LAMP stack; which is one of the reasons why tweetphoto.com is built in CAKEPHP. Our API is Tweetphoto. I personally believe the WCF team at Microsoft has the right idea when it comes to building an Application Programming Interface, “providing a unified programming model for rapidly building service-oriented applications that communicate across the web and the enterprise.”
Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/internet area?
Foursquare is suppose to be one of the biggest websites of 2010, thus we’ve invested the time and effort to be one of their first meaningful integrations. Foursquare developers can already use TweetPhoto as their photo sharing source for their Foursquare apps.
In my experience, I’ve noticed people don’t like change. Thus, we want to seamlessly provide our users the ability to use the tools/logins they already use every day. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Etc.
Though the bigger opportunity all revolves around the word “instant”. That’s the TweetPhoto word of the year. How do we instantaneously allow users to share their photo they just took through a mobile application, their mobile phone, or digital camera?
What do you think about the BizSpark Program?
I think Microsoft made a very smart move in investing money/resources with the startup community. The time to go from concept to production is a lot faster on Microsoft technologies. Though the problem was always cost. Now if a company is making a million dollars a year, they can afford to be using Microsoft technologies which will just aid Microsoft in research and development with future tools for businesses to succeed.
Do you have any advice for young Software entrepreneurs?
Don’t be a hippie, make money! Either charge for your product, or if your service is free, you better have a business plan to take your free product and make money from it somehow.
Have a working application before seeking funding.
Join the BizSpark program!
Who’s your role model?
The Google founders are high on my list. They changed the way people find information. That’s a pretty radical movement. For 1000’s of years information was taught from teacher to student. Now information is searched for from person to community.
What’s the ONE THING you would like readers to take away from this interview?
A Photo is worth a thousand words, though Tweets are limited to just 140 characters. By using TweetPhoto you’ll be able to easily and instantly share those thousand words one photo at a time.