Meeting up with Gabriel Hubert, CEO of Teleportd, is always an eventful occasion. The last time I met him at his office, he was ‘hacking’ a printer, so that people could hashtag their Instagram photos with a specific hashtag that would trigger the printer to automatically print the photo – he ended up using it at the Jimmy Fairly house-warming party (the two share an office space).
This time I was meeting up with Gabriel to talk about their recent acceptance into BOTH of LeWeb London‘s startup competitions – LeWeb’s own and that of Tech All Stars. Gabriel seemed pretty happy about their recent fortune, saying that “The echo effect of having two events that you partake in could be big.” With much of the French startup scene sitting on the fence about whether LeWeb London will be bigger, smaller, or just as successful as the December version in Paris that has been going on for years, Gabriel said he thinks that LeWeb London will likely attract a different crowd, who otherwise wouldn’t come to Paris for LeWeb in December.
So, Teleportd: Who are they?
The Seedcamp company has been around for a while now, and their common thread has been harvesting the power of User Generated smartphone photos, notably those with a geolocalization tag.Their iPhone app, which has been out since last October, was one of the first fruits of their labor. The app allows you to pin a location, like on google maps, and all photos geolocalized in the part of the map visible on the screen are viewable in real-time. This is cool for getting real-time photos of, say, Roland Garros during a match, or seeing all the photos taken during a riot in Greece.
While the iPhone app has gotten UX improvements since October, and will be getting a very sexy overhaul soon, according to Hubert, they’ve spent most of their time focusing on their API, and how to enable other businesses to harness the power of smartphone photos.
An API for Smartphone photos?
With roughly 200 people making use of their API, Teleportd has seen some pretty good interest in their API. Notably, Teleportd is currently powering Yoko Ono’s Smiles Film project. The project calls for everyone in the world to share a photo of themselves on twitter with the hashtag #smilesfilm, with the hope of creating a film containing the faces of every single person in the world – the ultimate goal, aggregating photos of all seven billion inhabitants of Earth.
The API has got other great clients, like SnapQuest, which essentially performs a web-app version of Teleportd’s iPhone app; Hubert also stated that the Fete de La Musique (The Music Festival), an annual ‘holiday’ during which Music is played publicly all across France, will be using Teleportd on their official website to show-off photos of public music all across France. Nonetheless, Hubert isn’t happy. ”We’re still missing out on all the people who are uncomfortable using an API.” The answer… Capsules.
In Hubert’s own words, Capsules are “the easiest way for anybody to search for, select, and display relevant photos in seconds” In my own words, it’s a solution to a million different problems I’ve had in the past. As a journalist, I’m often looking for a way to integrate visual content – specifically, photo albums from events, startups, etc. – into articles. There are honestly no great solutions that feed me content, and allow me to moderate and update it in real-time without pushing a new version of the article.
I threw together this Capsule about LaDuree by searching for “LaDuree” and specifying results geo-localized within Paris, France, to focus on their Paris boutique. Within seconds, I had a list of 40 photos taken since May 31st (their photo database for Capsules only goes back to May 31st, 2012), from which I chose my five favorite photos. I then grabbed a JS embed code, the same way you embed a YouTube video, and I threw it into my post. You can see the Capsules interface here, at least for my LaDuree/Paris search.
Teleportd has been doing a marketing campaign on their blog recently, called Detectd, to show off their intelligence in identifying “events” in the twittersphere. You can check out some of the recent events they’ve detected and for which they’ve thrown together a photo album, by searching #detectd on Twitter. You can catch everything from an open-air picnic in Stockholm, Sweden to costumes at the Queen’s Jubilee in England.
A Journalist’s Wet Dream
As Gabriel pointed out, there are other advantages for Journalists: via “subscriptions,” you can subscribe to a particular account (say, that of a prominent photographer in your field of interest or a well-known blogger), or to a particular location (to, say, catch all photos taken at the Elysee), or even to a particular keyword (say, “LeWeb London” to get all the photos for the event). Using this, you can check in on all your key interests, as a journalists, pick and choose the best photos (mmmm, sepia-tone), and quickly throw together a photo album.
The API isn’t totally ignored, however; Hubert says that tech-savvy users can use Capsules in tandem with the API, picking and moderating photos via subscription from within the Capsules interface, and then take that set of photos and manipulate them in your own site via the API; Capsules simply offers a few default ‘frames’ to display your photos, for the rest of us.
For professional journalists, Teleportd has also experimented with creating a smartphone photo licensing platform, allowing journalists to make use of smartphones taken at riots in Greece or the revolution in Syria, without worrying about licensing issues. Early testing has shown that 25% of photographers respond positively at the prospect of making money of their smartphone uploads.
Small Businesses and Digital Agencies
But the Capsules/API interfact isn’t just useful to us journalists, says Hubert, “Every consumer-facing website on earth has something to gain from exposing powerful, relevant Capsules content. ANY Website.” Citing Airbnb and Hotels.com as examples, Hubert points out that photos have a much stronger power
“This is going back to how great it is to be working on this product. Photos are fantastic. People react very irrationally and emotionally to visual content. What you see is a nice set of photos and it’s something you don’t want to miss out on, it’s like ‘how can I get this somewhere where it makes sense to show them off’ “
Teleportd hopes small businesses will jump on board the engagement power of photos of their own products. While big brands will always get the star treatment support from Teleportd, Hubert says their main method of distribution would be through digital agencies interested in offering Teleportd’s platform to their clients.
A Blue Ocean…
As I think many people have asked themselves, I asked Gabriel about the difficulty in creating a market, namely for smartphone photos, which don’t appear to have much value currently. His response seemed like a great way to close the article:
“It’s a challenge, but at the same time, I think it’s taking advantage of a trend that makes it easier for us. I think that the 2-3 years that people have wasted not understanding Twitter is a mistake that people will not be making again.
Teleportd is currently in private beta, but you can sign up for their service on their homepage to give it a try.