Last summer, Jonathan Slimak was licking his wounds after having to shutter his beloved web site, a platform he had spent six months building to encourage architects and designers to use sustainable lighting in their projects.
"It just didn't take off as I had hoped," says Slimak.
As he was watching the progress of Argentina (his favorite team) in the World Cup, he never dreamed that his next project would be to try to revolutionize the world of photo sharing. But something strange happened.
Slimak's friends in other countries, who were also Argentina fans, donned Argentina Team t-shirts and used their mobile phones to send photos of themselves to him and to one another. Instead of writing comments back, the recipients of those photos sent responding photos of themselves, in bars, in cafes, at the beach, also wearing Argentina Team t-shirts. It was a new way to communicate a message through pictures.
The message was clear: "we are together sharing this one experience, even if we are in separate areas of the world."
That got Slimak thinking.
"It occurred to me that the very notion of pictures is changing. Pictures are no longer just vehicles to store away old memories, they are objects to interact."
The image is the message. He searched around for a mobile app that would solve this problem, but couldn't find one. That's when Piictu was born.
"The underlying vision for piictu is that we are creating the first mobile platform for collaborative self-expression," Slimak explains.
After talking an engineer friend into leaving his job at Google, and raising some friends and family money, Slimak launched Piictu. So far, the results have been encouraging. Over 130,000 people have downloaded piictu in just the last three months.
Here's a look at how Slimak received funding for his product:
Slimak and his team got a huge boost when they were accepted into TechStars earlier this year. TechStars is a New York City-based accelerator program that helps startups refine their concepts, raise money and grow. Out of 1,200 applicants, Piictu was chosen for one of only 12 slots.
Legal expert Jennifer Hill and I attended Demo Day at TechStars, where all 12 startup companies presented their companies to investors. Here's what Jonathan Slimak and some of those other founders learned in their months in the TechStars accelerator program: