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GPS obsessed

Monday
20 October 2014

Mobile Photo-Sharing Startup SnapMyLife Integrates Geotagging, Quickly Raises $5 Million

SnapMyLife, a location-based mobile photo-sharing network, has raised $5 million in a new round of financing, Xconomy reports.  The round was led by venture firms North Bridge Venture Partners and Carmel Ventures who earlier this year invested $4 million in the startup.  The company says the money will be used to add features, expand internationally and pursue strategic partnerships.

The service enables users to take pictures with a mobile phone and share them with friends and family.  Users can also browse through and comment on photos of people they don’t know.

Based in Needham, Massachusetts, SnapMyLife was spun out of Mobicious in April 2008.  Mobicious is a directory of mobile applications and content that still exists, but has taken a backseat to the dramatic growth of its photo-sharing spawn.  While the mobile service had reasonable growth in its first three months, it wasn’t until it released an iPhone application with geotagging that it really took off.

Within two months, the ‘Photo Maps’ addition to SnapMyLife–geotagging wasn’t available prior to the 3G iPhone release–resulted in 200, 000 iPhone application downloads and by the end of October it had reached an impressive 500, 000 registered users and 1.5 million unique visitors per month.  The company’s vice president of marketing, David Chang, said that the first day Photo Maps was available, over a quarter of SnapMyLife photos had been tagged with geographical identifiers.

SnapMyLife has extended upon its iPhone mapping success, enabling anyone with a web-accessible mobile phone to geotag pictures.  I definitely think this was a smart choice on the company’s part, and a testament to the power of geographic context in social networking situations.  Especially in the mobile landscape.

What amazes me about the new round of financing however, is that SnapMyLife is completely ad-supported.  It sells ad space on its dot-com property and features small text ads on its mobile site.  This single revenue stream is exactly the opposite of what most investors are looking for right now.  The economic downturn has pushed investors to look for businesses with multiple revenue streams, that are making money, and that won’t be strapped for cash two years from now.

So what makes SnapMyLife different from an investment point of view?  I would venture to say that the answer is four-fold:

  1. It was built from an established, already venture-backed company
  2. Excellent launch timing prior to the July 11 iPhone release
  3. Having location features integrated into the platform for its iPhone application release July 11
  4. Integrated location into its mobile web space as soon as it realized how successful the iPhone integration was

SnapMyLife has shown that it’s capable of jumping on market opportunities as soon as they’re visible and if I was an investor I think that would be an important part of how I’d evaluate a location-based startup.

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