Curious about what’s next in the world of photo-sharing apps? After all, both Instagram and Snapchat have been documenting the social media scene for more than five years each now.
Maybe the Next Big Thing is Blurr, the Gen Z-style geo-fencing, “you had to be there” event-only photo movement. The fledgling start-up recently moved operations from Boston to Los Angeles, spent a long weekend at Coachella and then flew out to Las Vegas for its first corporate client.
It all started two years ago, on the college campus at Northeastern University. Daniel Arvidsson, Dan Korman and Sam Marley, three soccer players, threw an Australian-themed leaving party for a friend heading to study in Sydney. Everyone took photos, or it looked like they did. But the morning after the night before, there was nothing decent on anyone’s social feeds. It had been a fantastic night, but it had gone unrecorded. The three friends couldn’t believe it. So they started Blurr.
Blurr chief executive officer, British-born Marley, explained to WWD how it works: “You walk into an event and open the Blurr app on your phone. There is a default radius of 100 meters that can change depending on what location you’re in, and so Blurr recognizes where you are. It will start loading pictures from others concurrently using Blurr at the same event. All pictures will be shared automatically to the collective feed, creating a shared album of the experience.”
At the end of 2016, Blurr closed an initial seed round of $200,000 from angel investors. This enabled the company to move to Los Angeles, where the firm was selected for the WeWork “Mission Possible” program, giving it free office space as well as other supportive start-up amenities.
WeWork also awarded Blurr $25,000 in its recent Creator Awards. Then the Blurr team started hitting the trade shows, looking for clients.
“Our first sales experience was a bit mad,” Marley said. “The three of us lads, at a bridal show, in a hotel in downtown Los Angeles. We launched the app essentially as a college party venture, but we knew, eventually, the real value would come as a service business, partnering with large companies throwing big events, from festivals to fashion shows.”
Picking up plenty of business from the event show, from young couples who want something a bit different, the Blurr team now provides a bespoke bridal package — price on application, although the app is free to download for users. They handle everything from pre-production, marketing, the activation process, including tightly geo-fencing the celebration location, sending out timed text messages to guests, printing out flyers with a code/call to action, monitoring the feed remotely, checking all images taken by the wedding party and guests are date/time-stamped. (They don’t attend the wedding, Marley hastily pointed out.) During the celebration itself, the guests can see the stream unfold from post-vows to the bride and groom driving away to their honeymoon.
“Then, after the wedding,” Marley said. “We comb through the images, select the best and package up the day’s photographic stream for posterity.”
Happy brides did word-of-mouth marketing for them and soon the Blurr team was off to Las Vegas to cover a global training conference for their first corporate client, Arbonne.
Unlike Instagram or any of the other picture-based social apps, Blurr has are no filters, no profiles, no “like” counts, no comments, no spam, no stalkers, just a pure stream of “we were there” and “this was our night.”
Much has been made of Generation Z’s — born in the mid-Nineties — desire for authenticity and a stripped down sense of self. They don’t put store by who took the picture; they just want to remember how it felt to be there. Marley agreed: “We’re not a social app, we’re a utility. It’s all about the pictures now — not about the people who took it. None of my friends care about self-promotion. We want to have a really good day-after memory-keeper. Blurr is all about the shared experience of people who are in the same place, at the same time.”
Could this the end of the “selfie” and the start of something entirely new?