Instagram may be massively dominating the photo-sharing market but that hasn’t stopped some worthy contenders emerging to take on the giant. One of these is Hamburg-based iPhone app Tadaa, which has added features and tools galore to appeal to the more serious photographer . I caught up with co-founder Nikolas Schoppmeier to find out why Tadaa is the “Twitter for photos” and just what it does that Instagram doesn’t.
Hi Nikolas, who are you and what are you doing?
I’m one of the founders of Tadaa, a photo-sharing app that lets you edit and apply filters to your photos and share them in a community. In 2012, my co-founder Friedemann Wachsmuth and I sat together and said we wished that there was a Twitter for photos.
We’re both hobby photographers and we also realised carrying an iPhone around is really normal, so most people have a decent camera in their pockets. But we thought that there isn’t a really cool app to share photos with like-minded people, that’s why we created Tadaa. We liked the idea from our background – it’s social and it’s a technological challenge. We took the best developers we had worked with and made baby steps and now we’re at over a million users.
Who are the founders and how did you find each other?
Friedemann and I met in 1999, when we were working together. We built a tech centre in Hamburg together after that, we did consumer tech products – we were working with 20-30 engineers. We were then at Bebo, which is where the love of social networks started. In 2012 we decided to launch Tadaa, to fill this gap we saw in the market.
What is your USP and what makes you different from everyone else?
Well the obvious comparison is to Instagram, but there are some major differences between us. With our site, you don’t have to sign up, you can use Tadaa as a photo editor and you don’t have to share every photo. There’s a vibrant and active community there, it’s very friendly and people love to share, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to. We try to be very nice to the user and make it easy and fun to use.
Even if you choose to share photo, you keep the copyright, not us, unlike Facebook. That’s because we want serious photographers to join our community to feel safe and comfortable posting. The other aspect is the technology, it’s really high quality. We have very high resolution and we have lots of filters. You can simulate the look of a real SLR professional lens and camera with our software. So you can edit the photo in a way that even paid apps don’t offer.
What is your business model?
At the moment it’s a reach play – so we’re trying to build the community and the reach, but for everything else I can’t really say right now.
And how big is the market potential?
The market potential is massive. You have to ask yourself – how many people are going to have a smartphone with a decent camera and how many of them will want to take photos in the future?
I think even Instagram, which is doing a great job, is only grasping a fraction of the market. It’s just the beginning right now.
How did you come up with the name?
We locked ourselves up for the weekend in a countryside lodge and brainstormed for ages and in the middle of the night we came up with the name. We wanted something catchy that works everywhere – it’s like Tadaa! Here is my picture all edited. And it’s not a swearword in any language, which was a plus!
Who is financing you?
The first half year we paid it out of our own pockets. Now we have an interesting group of international, very well connected investors on board – but we’re looking out for more.
Is there something that you missing? An employee, an investor or an office?
We find it hard to find really good people. We really need an iOS and backend person and designers. We’re actively looking right now.
Probably Lady Gaga – it’s not a personal preference…or maybe it is?! But I’d ask her what she wants in an app so she’d use it every day.
Any advice you’d give for fellow startups?
The one thing is don’t get discouraged by people saying you have no chance. Believe in yourself, do it, stick to it.
Have you had any regrets?
I’ve never regretted the decision. There are times when you release that half a year ago or a year ago, when you thought you had stress at your old job, you didn’t even really know what stress was.
Sometimes it’s tough, but the milestones you achieve and the feedback you get from users and when you read the reviews and people like the app, it’s really reassuring, at the end of the day I would never, ever regret it, no way.
Where will you be in a year’s time?
Next year will be about growth – building new features. In a marketplace that is so competitive it’s hard to be heard. We need to keep a competitive advantage with our features. So it’s all about growth. We won’t lose the quality though. Plus we’ll work on an Android product.
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