As far as entrepreneurs go, Adam Ludwin is nothing if not a self-aware one. His own description of his new app, Albumatic, began as only a pitch from a seasoned VC-turned-entrepreneur could.
“It’s a photo sharing app.” he said, rolling his eyes and nodding his head dismissively. “Yeah, yeah, I know, I know.”
“Now, let me tell you why I think this’ll actually work.”
He walked me through the genesis of the app — a moment when he and some friends realized they had no sensible way of sharing photos from a particular event among themselves. Where most excited entrepreneurs might take an idea and immediately begin building it, he instead went to the App Store. He tested each of the many group photo sharing apps in the store to figure out why none of them had taken off. Armed with that info, he set out to build Albumatic, which launches on iOS today.
He co-founded the app with Devon Gundry, the person behind SoulPancake. He remains at RRE Ventures, where he’s worked as a dealmaking principal for 2.5 the past years. There’s he’s backed companies like HowAboutWe, Vine, Paperless Post, Moda Operandi and StellaService.
Of Albumatic’s 100 beta testers, the majority are daily active users, Ludwin says. The beauty, he says, is in the photo sharing app’s constraints. Once you create an album, others can join and add their photos to it. But they can’t join if they’re not physically in the same area as the creator — they have to “watch,” which is the app’s version of subscribing. It’s something you’d do if your friends are all out somewhere but you couldn’t make it. Further, the albums become inactive after a day, meaning new photos or members can’t be added.
The constraints are meant to place the albums in what Ludwin called a Venn diagram of “friends, nearby, and now.” This is a trifecta of relevance for photos. He’s not worried about precious filters or ways to make the photos beautiful, he wants people to be able to share all their memories in one place.
One thing he learned from the other photo sharing apps is that users aren’t as concerned about privacy as they are about who they’re sharing with. Most peoples’ photos are public on Instagram; they’re not as concerned about privacy there as they are on Facebook. Ludwin postulates that people share less on Facebook than they had before, because their Facebook friends are no longer their real friends — they’re people from high school, or distant cousins. People like Instagram because it’s a clean slate for friends. If photo sharing is the most engaging part of Facebook, than a mobile app allowing that to be done in specific groups could be the way forward. At least, that’s the plan.
With it’s joining and watching options, along with constraints that limit each album to a single event, Albumatic aims to be “social without being weird,” Ludwin says.