Picazzy's founders are eyeing opportunities in the image processing industry, which is worth $16 billion globally. But first, they need to find paying consumers and business customers.
Over the last 18 months, two engineers and a marketing expert have been hard at work building image processing technology for professional artists and photographers. The technology converts any low resolution image and renders it in high resolution. Their platform offers creative filters to be played with, much more than what is available on any smartphone app such as Instagram. It is meant for those who take their work seriously.
The three say the power of natural language processing for image and pattern recognition is going to change the way media companies and other professionals work on photography. Who are these three guys and how did they get into this?
Beating back professional boredom
Tarun K. Naidu, Pankaj Subhash and Amit Singh started this business in late 2015 to cope with an early mid-life crisis. They were bored in their respective jobs, having worked in a corporate, a software and an advertising setup, respectively, for more than 16 years, and wanted to beat the boredom that had crept into their mundane lives. They realised in mid-2015 that it they did not give a shot at being entrepreneurs they would forever regret not going after their dreams. The three have known each other for a very long time, with Pankaj being a bridge between Amit and Tarun. Pankaj and Amit were classmates in engineering, while Tarun was classmates with Pankaj when they were doing their MBA.
They started out with the basic premise that the current set of image processing apps offered filters and frames that were amateurish and did not do justice to photography experts.
“Creative photo effects and rich image processing needs deep programming knowledge,” says Tarun. He adds that image processing is far more complicated than most people admit. He adds,
“Building frames and a few standard filters is easy. The scope of innovation is very high, and our app offers high-end compositions on images.”
Picazzy, in short, is a blend of creativity and technology. The company is using a platform called Imagemagick, which is a software suite that allows conversions of bitmap images.
Grand plans and multiple avenues
The three 39-year-olds believe that their platform is great for consumers too. They launched the business two months ago, and they have already got 20,000 users. The consumer app is offered for free with in-app purchases of filters and frames. They hope to monetise the business by partnering with marketing companies while promoting events and getting consumers to post pictures on social media, by using the Picazzy app, during the event.
However, they have larger ambitions.
Their app is being positioned for the B2B segment too, and could be used by new age media to help reporters take high quality photos and process them like expert photographers. They also believe they can partner with several brands for their marketing campaigns. They partnered with Milind Soman’s Pinkathon competition in Bengaluru to push usage of their app and also help many women discover the run.
The company is currently following a B2B2C model, where it is thinking of a pay-per-share model with the brands, and a B2C model as well. However, its technology could be useful for corporates, and they are still fleshing out a B2B model where they could work directly with creative companies to use their platform. They will even make it available to painters and artistes.
The company today has no revenue, and expects to generate it only after a year or so. They have invested less than Rs 10 lakh and built the technology by themselves. Currently, the business is run by just the three of them.
“We have kept costs extremely low and are in the process of winning businesses to generate revenues,” says Tarun.
Pankaj and Amit admit that they are taking a big risk after turning 39 last year. But they figured that this was the perfect time to give it one big try to make their dreams of building and growing a company a reality.
The three of them are also looking to raise an angel round of funding to do some initial pilots with businesses as well as some marketing.
The market opportunity for these businesses depends on the scale they achieve. The market is by no means unoccupied, with companies like PicsArt and Prisma among the preferred image processing technology businesses on the global stage. Prisma just closed a funding round last year.
“Startups should always know whether their product has a market and that it has the ability to get paying customers,” says V. Ganapathy, CEO of Axilor Ventures.
According to Markets and Markets, the natural language processing industry, which includes text and image recognition, is $16 billion in value. For these three middle-aged men from Delhi and Mumbai, the future looks young and bright, illuminated by the sheer market size that they could go after.