The rise of smartphone usage and photo apps has empowered more people to get creative and engage with photography. Many tech startups have capitalised on this market. One example is the breakthrough success of photo app startup VSCO, which caught the eye of investors and raised an impressive $70 million in two funding rounds.
So who’s next? Part of a new wave of startups choosing to focus on photography is Lightricks. Their Facetune app is currently flying high at the top of the iOS Store photo and video app charts. And there are plenty more in the spotlight. From image sharing and photo-editing apps to smartphone technology to digitalize prints, these are the top five startups reinventing photo apps.
1) EyeEm – a network for professional photographers
EyeEm is a photo sharing network for people who want to get paid for the photos they take. In 2015, the tech startup raised $18 million is new funding to continue challenging established photo agencies. Led by Valar Ventures, the round included investment from Earlybird Venture Capital, Passion Capital, Wellington Partners, Atlantic Labs and Open Ocean.
There are big plans ahead. As well as expanding its Marketplace into other countries, beyond the US, Co-founder and CEO Flo Meissner revealed EyeEm’s biggest goal is to build a sophisticated image search engine. With that in mind EyeEm acquired French tech startup Sight.io, in 2014, to help them on their way. This year, EyeEm launched The Roll, a free app that uses machine learning to determine your best shots and clean up your camera roll.
- Founded: 2011
- Total funding raised: $24 million
- Users: 18 million EyeEm app users
- USP: find images that interest you
2) Lightricks – creates photo-editing apps
Lightricks is a startup that creates photo-editing apps. Founded in 2013, by five entrepreneurs (including four computer graphics experts), Lightricks already has two best-selling image apps under its belt: face photo touch-up app Facetune and full image editing app Enlight.
Not only has Lightricks caught the eye of Facebook (who feature it as a case study for its Facebook mobile ads business), in 2015, Lightricks bagged a $10 million investment from Israeli firm Carmel Ventures. Proving they also have a sense of humour, Lightricks’ talented team flexed their creative muscles to re-imagine a photo of CEO and Co-founder Zeev Farbman, having a nap. Well, running an app business can be exhausting.
- Founded: 2013
- Total funding raised: $10 million
- Users: over 4 million paid Facetune users and over 1 million paid Enlight users
- USP: edit images on your smartphone
3) Splore – the hashtag photo sharing app
Splore is the only photo sharing app that allows users to follow hashtags instead of people. This model focuses on the content rather than the people and changes the way users engage with visuals.
In 2014, CEO and Co-founder Christopher Karimian gathered a team of specialists to create Splore and has already seen plenty of success. The following year, Splore raised a $350,000 seed round and the app was selected to be part of the Alpha programme at the Web Summit.
- Founded: 2014
- Funding raised: $350k
- USP: lets users follow hashtags (interests) rather than people
4) Photomyne – digitalizing old photo albums
Photomyne is an app that lets you scan your old print photos and bring them online, to save and share. What sets Photomyne apart is that it can scan multiple photos in a single shot. The app then automatically crops each image and restores its colours. You can even tie them to your Facebook timeline.
The tech startup was founded, in 2014, by Natalie Verter, Omer Shoor, Nir Tzemah and Yair Segalovitz. The team recently closed a $2.6 million seed funding round with investors Leon Recanati, Yariv Gilat and Eddy Shalev. Photomyne app is now well on its way to one million downloads.
- Founded: 2014
- Total funding raised: $2.6 million
- Users: approaching one million downloads
- USP: Digitalize old albums in minutes
5) Dermandar – panoramic smartphone photography
This tech startup has been through three rounds of investment and, in 2016, Dermandar secured $375,000 of funding from angel investors Jan Eric Solem, Pierre Elzouki and Daniel Neuwirth. Now they want to encourage app developers to use DMD’s free API, declaring their technology is for any app where panoramic photography would be useful, such as home rental app AirBnB.
- Founded: 2010
- Total funding raised: $835K
- USP: 360 imaging experts
Apps are completely transforming the way we take, store and share photos thanks to startups like the companies we’ve covered here. Photography is just one area of life being enhanced by apps and you can find more examples in our app startups series.