Although there might be quite a few players in the photo-sharing space, Toronto-based startup MyShoebox believes there is still room in the market to provide secure cloud storage and the ability to have one’s photo collection unified across all devices. The company launched out of beta this week, after testing its services with over 400 users, and will be looking to onboard new users in time for demo day at Xtreme Startups in November.
Co-founded by two University of Waterloo grads, Steve Cosman and Kalu Kalu, MyShoebox is their answer to the often fragmented experience of scattered photo collections people may have stored on multiple devices, the virtual version of a shoebox stuffed with photos. “When we started one of the problems we recognized was that as people get more devices, and the cycle in which they get new devices increases, people tend to lose their old photos. They might be sitting in an old phone in a drawer, or sitting on a old laptop in a closet,” Cosman said in an interview. “So we tried to build something that would do two things, one just unify all your photos and keep them safe, and two provide a way to view your photos anywhere, so you get a consistent user experience on any device.”
MyShoebox is available for the web, iOS, Windows, and Android platforms, and users can connect it to any of their photo accounts, including iPhoto, Instagram, and Flickr, and automatically store their photos in the cloud. Aside from unlimited storage and a unified platform experience, MyShoebox also aims to help its users rediscover their old photos. Upon uploading, the company’s technology will use a photo’s Exif tag to determine both the when and where, as well as which device the photo was taken with, and organize photos in a way that they can browsed via both a timeline and further broken up by a specific camera, day of the week, season, and place.
The company offers unlimited storage and backup for free for photos up to 1024px. If users want to keep the original resolution of their photos, they can choose to pay $5 per month for a pro account.
Photographers and snap-happy consumers have no shortage of options when it comes to storing photos, the most obvious being Dropbox, which can automatically import iPhoto photos. Those who prefer to stay within the Apple ecosystem have the advantage of Apple’s iCloud and iOS Photo Stream capabilities which backs up photos taken on one device and syncs them to all of the user’s other iOS devices, and BetaKit also covered the launch of private photo-sharing app, Moshpic earlier in September. However, MyShoebox has seen that thanks in part to the company’s emphasis on secure storage and automatic uploading, its early beta users were more likely to have a greater number of photos stored on its platform than other popular networks.
“The big thing for us is that we’re trying to do something highly different than other photo-sharing apps. Instagram when it was bought by Facebook had an average of 35 photos per user, Flickr right now has 117, Facebook has 220, and we have 2,500 and rising quite quickly,” Cosman added. “We try to capture your entire collection and by being private by default and having all the automatic uploading, we can do that.”
With the platform’s launch out of beta, the company is working on developing additional apps for Windows 8 and BlackBerry to truly create a cross-platform user experience. Cosman said they will also be adding features like face detection over the next six months and that the company will be looking to experiment with eventually being able to detect places as well as things in photos. With consumers wanting to get their hands on as many devices as they can, the service could gain traction with users looking to effortlessly upload photos on a single platform. But for the casual photographer, having their photos scattered across several devices might not be a pain point they need to address.