Sound and vision: in tune on social media

The Dublin-based founders of YapMe claim to have found a gap in the crowded social media market

Stan Massueras (left) and Charles Alix from start-up YapMe  picutred in their new premises upstairs in Music Maker, Exchequer Street, Dublin. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Stan Massueras (left) and Charles Alix from start-up YapMe picutred in their new premises upstairs in Music Maker, Exchequer Street, Dublin. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

For a certain demographic, documenting key moments in life is a necessity. And while technology and social media is both user-friendly and fast-evolving, the use of sound has been a challenge.

Anyone who’s attended a gig in the last few years, for example, has seen a raised phone (or iPad) intended to record the performance, but these recordings tend to be shaky and blurry at best.

YapMe is a Dublin-based start-up. The app forgoes video to match sound with photos, and it goes much further than concert snaps. Yes, it could be a photo of Kanye in Glastonbury matched with a snippet of one of his tracks, but the app can also be used for a group shot with the sound of the group saying “happy anniversary”; a holiday snap of a busy street with ambient sounds; or an image of a key moment at a sporting event matched by the crowd’s cheers.

“We want to improve the way people capture and share their special moments,” says Stan Massueras, co-founder of YapMe. “By simply adding a sound layer to a picture YapMe creates a full sensory experience. It adds emotion, context and texture to your picture without losing the simplicity and spontaneity of taking a quick snap on your phone.”

Massueras refers to how his co-founder, Charles Alix, uses the app: “The first time [Charles’ daughter] said the word ‘banana’ for instance; he was able to take a picture and match audio to it. Then months later you can see the evolution of a baby growing up. Also, what we’ve started to see is people taking selfies and attaching voice messages and sending them privately, saying things like ‘happy birthday’.

“Something we added two-to-three months ago was the music part. Let’s say summer ‘98 was when you were a student: What was the soundtrack to that summer? If you wanted to attach a song that matched a moment in your life, you can search for a song on iTunes, or select music based on specific mood [in the app]; happy, melancholic, relaxed, stressed, energetic, and so on. There are over 10,000 songs collated into these categories.”

Avoiding video

InstagramFacebookTwitterWhatsapp

The founders of YapMe say that it generates money in two key ways; with ads and with trimmings. “We make money from native advertising,” says Massueras. “When you scroll down you’ll see one picture from a record label with a picture of a recording artist, whose song you can buy on iTunes or add to your playlist on Spotify. Even [an ad for] a small guitar shop could have a picture of a new guitar with a sample of the sound attached. And then we were thinking of in-app purchases, like being able to buy more filters, sound filters, soundtracks like wave sounds.”

YapMe is Dublin-based, appropriately enough for an app inspired by sound; it’s above Music Maker on Exchequer Street.

They hope to expand beyond their three founders to create local jobs, but presently all of the key players are French.

Start-up scene

Galway

“Stan and I worked in Facebook right at the start. We were among the first 10 employees in the Dublin office. And after we moved to Twitter, it was the same; just when the office opened. So we were setting up the market. At first we had lots of responsibilities in Facebook. We had loads of things to do; recruiting, building the office. After that we moved on to the advertising part, where we worked on the French market and launching Facebook ads. And after that, we did the same with Twitter.”

“We had meetings with Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg, ” says Massueras. “It was an amazing experience to meet and learn from legends of the tech world. We use what we learned there every single day.”

“We decided that we wanted to do something instead of seeing all of our competitors doing it and becoming successful,” says Alix. “In Dublin there were loads of resources for start-ups. If we go to France, there’ll be as much, but for a population that’s more than 10 times the size.

“In Dublin everybody’s been so helpful. We’ve been working with Enterprise Ireland since day one, when they gave us advice on how to set up, how to pitch and try to get into an incubator. So after we got the help of NDRC and their launch pad programme – they gave us a three-month intense mentorship, which helped a lot to get better focussed. And we did in three months what would’ve taken a year on our own; to get the contacts and the networks, also get us a bit of funding to start building the app and being able to hire freelancers. And on top of that, Enterprise Ireland also gave us funding to help grow the company with the objective of keeping jobs in Dublin to make sure we help to export the Irish image – showing Dublin as a start-up city. For us it was a no-brainer that we stay in Dublin. It was the best place to be for a start-up.”

“We got some funding from NDRC’s launch pad and from Enterprise Ireland,” says Massueras. “Now we are looking for a seed round investment. So with the help again of Enterprise Ireland, we went to California, it was with a programme called Silicon Access Valley. And it was there we met investors and mentors. We had built relationships already with investors, now we are only looking at launching the app. We’re confident it should go well in the coming few weeks once the app is [fully] launched.”

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