Last post, I talked about needing to rethink our digital scrapbook application, since our quick-and-dirty data suggested that it would be tough for an upstart company to compete against some of the established players in the field. Even the well-known scrapbooking applications don’t get copious Google traffic, suggesting that the scrapbooking software pie is small…then for us to get only a small portion of that pie…? It may not be worth the effort. As they say in the startup world, it takes just as much effort to create a big product as a small one, so you might as well go for the bigger one.
Does that mean that we abandon scrapbooking completely? No, but we need to think differently about the product. “Traditional” digital scrapbooking (if there is such a thing), with kits and elements, may be out, but people still want to manage their photographs in some creative way. They want to be able view their photographs, to share them, to store them, and be able to find them again. People still want a record of their lives to reminisce over and laugh about.
One way to think about the problem is to diagram our application and see what we can change about it. Below, I show the basic design of iDigiScrap, our previous scrapbooking application model. The center circle represents the application, with a couple of features within it, such as scrapbooking kits and the user gallery. In this model, the input is user photos from desktop applications like iPhoto or equivalent, from web storage sites like Picasa or Flickr, and possibly from mobile devices like cell phones. The users manipulate the photos within the app, send scrapbooked photos out to various social networks to share, and order hard copy printed versions of scrapbooking pages.
The diagram above represents traditional digital scrapbooking. But what if we turned everything upside down? What if we reversed the arrows? What would the product look like? Perhaps something like the image below:
In this view, social media sites are our input, rather than our output. In other words, we collect all a user’s data spread out among all their social networks and aggregate it in one place. The user may be able to manipulate their photos in some creative way, as before, and be able to send them out to hard copy, but the starting material would be the record of their lives through social media.
This would be a different type of scrapbook. Less a decorated and annotated page, it would be more like a diary of all the little events that make up your life, your tweets and Facebook posts, your Instagram photos and your Pinterest pins. It would represent the summation of all your social media posts. Many people have images and text spread across many different media, but there is no way to currently combine them into a single personal narrative for preserving in the future. Social media posts are often ephemeral, but this would save them and make them permanent memories. It would be scrapbooking, but of a very much more modern and forward-looking kind, a real scrapbook of your life, in digital form, created with little or no effort beyond social media updates.
What are the advantages of this to Limulus Systems? First, the market is potentially much larger, comprising anybody who uses social media, rather than the narrower group of digital scrapbookers. Second, the software would be simpler, thus less expensive to develop and test. A traditional scrapbooking Limulus Systems project, competing against established and full-featured applications, would itself require a full complement of features, making it complicated and expensive to develop. However, a scrapbook as envisioned here would be less complex to initially develop (think Minimum Viable Product) and would probably never become as complicated as existing traditional scrapbooking applications. Finally, this scheme eliminates the cost of scrapbook kits. Remember, the original plan was to charge users by subscription rather than kits used or bought. Exactly how much money we would need to raise for kits would depend on how many we licensed in, but I was anticipating a substantial investment in kits. How many kits would we need for a Minimum Viable Product? I don’t know, but I estimated that one competitor, Heritage Makers, had approximately 1,000 different kits to choose from. That represents an investment of approximately $400,000 in kits, given an average price of $400 per non-exclusive license (exclusive licenses would be approximately double that value). And the biggest complaint I heard about Heritage Makers is that it’s too limiting because it doesn’t have enough kits!
So that’s where we are in our thinking, for the moment. It’s still a work in process, but it has potential, I think. One good aspect of this is that it would be fairly easy to test the idea and see if there’s any interest out there. That’s the next step.
P.S. – note the name “Magpie” in the second figure – that’s our working name for the application at this point. We thought of it because magpies like collecting little shiny things, sorta like we’re doing with our app. Like the name? Let me know!