Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Interview with Dzuy Linh, Co-founder of Shutterbook
Dzuy Linh is co-founder of Los Angeles-based Shutterbook (www.shutterbook.com), a photo sharing site that is often compared to Flikr by Internet users. The site recently exited beta and officially launched. I caught up with Dzuy to understand where Shutterbook fits, and how they have been building the site.
BK: What is Shutterbook, and how does it compare to other photo sharing sites like Flikr?
DL: Shutterbook takes community driven photo sharing sites to the consumer level with a greater focus on the individual users. It blends desktop application functionality with the accessibility of the web. The interface and overall presentation is much cleaner, simpler, and allows each user to really show off their own photos with a greater sense of ownership. With most photo sharing sites there's always that feeling that you're just a small contributor to a huge website. With Shutterbook you really feel like it's YOUR Shutterbook and while the community aspect exists, you're certainly not forced into it.
BK: What's the history of Shutterbook, and why did you decide to start the site?
DL: Shutterbook started out over a year ago as a simple way for my sister to share photos online. After using a bunch of online services I quickly realized that none of them were as easy as they claimed and all of them just had poorly designed interfaces. We first created just a viewing gallery and then decided to build a complete drag-n- drop admin with it. We just kept building on that and then we released a public version that just picked up a lot of popularity pretty fast.
BK: How long has the service been available, and how many users do you have?
DL: We were in beta since late 2004 and only recently transitioned out of beta and into offering full Premium services. We've got about 15,000 users now and we're growing at rate of about 10,000 photos a day.
BK: How does Shutterbook make money?
DL: We just started offering Premium services that give users a massive 20GB worth of storage space, allows hi-res photos, album password protection, music uploads per album, and bunch of other neat little features.
BK: Are you finding that users are willing to pay for your premium accounts?
DL: Absolutely. The response to Premium accounts has been great. When it comes down to it, it really is just a good deal and I think users can easily see that so they're signing up.
BK: How are you funded?
DL: We haven't accepted any outside funding and we've managed to keep this a complete bootstrap project. The only monetary investment has been my own personal investment.
BK: With many different types of online photo sharing sites in the market, how difficult has it been to gain users and attract attention?
DL: It's a very competitive and saturated market but in the end when you can deliver a product users absolutely love and they actually find it useful, they'll find ways to help spread the word. And this is really what we've relied on and so far it's working for us.
BK: Why Flash, and how has the scalability been with using a Flash-based site?
DL: Flash is quickly becoming a mature web development platform that can deliver rich media in a very versatile way. In terms of scalability, it's just like developing for any other platform. The scalability depends on the foresight of the developers, not the language it's developed in.
BK: Finally, what's next on the horizon for Shutterbook?
DL: Well, I wouldn't want to spoil the suprise but there's going to be a lot community development coming soon. We've spend a lot of energy to create the easiest, most intuitive system for uploading, managing, and organizing photos. So now we've got to take our same approach to photo sharing and photo networking.