BeenUp2 (www.beenup2.com)is a web site which is combining photos with social updates, much like a cross between Flickr and Twitter. The site allows users to upload a stream of photos and comments, and interact with friends and contacts with comments and other social networking features. To get some perspective on the startup, we spoke with Ian Kilpatrick, the firm's co-creator. Ian is based in Los Angeles, and spoke with Ben Kuo.
What's the idea behind the service?
Ian Kilpatrick: The site is basically---for lack of a better term--a social networking site. Wherever you go, you can take a photo with your phone, and you send it in to an email we provide for you when you sign up. You send it in, and it is posted to a public feed where people can see what you're up to--that sort of explains the site's title, BeenUp2.com. There's plenty of features after you send a photo in, there's a place for people to comment on, and you can create conversations. People are sending in everything from the mundane to the wierd, with a focus on day to day stuff.
How long has the site been in development, and why did you start it?
Ian Kilpatrick: It's been in development since April. We launched in summer with a soft launch. The site was already there, but we started to push it out to our close friends, and started to ask for opinions and give access to our inner circle. Since then, it's been growing great. The way that it started was that Layton Wedgeworth, one of my co-founders, came to me in April with this technology, and we decided to put this thing together that would put photos from mobile phones live on the Internet. We also thought we could mash up things like Google Maps, Flickr, and create something and see where it goes. That was the beginning of it. I've known Layton and Mike DiCarlo, our other founder, since nine years ago, before the first Dot Com boom. So we partnered up on this and couldn't be happier.
What's the business model behind the site, how do you make money?
Ian Kilpatrick: Right now, it's mostly ad driven. We've also got some affiliate deals with Amazon and iTunes, and are picking up a few others for video feeds and that kind of stuff. It will not be subscription based--we want everyone to use it, and to make money off traffic rather than the individual users. We want it to stay free.
Tell us a little bit about your background and that of your other founders?
Ian Kilpatrick: I started nine years ago at an indie record label in Northern California, and started doing web and print work. I got to know both industries pretty well. I tried to get into the Dot Com era the first time, and was just in the wrong spot. Then, I met these guys -- Mike had started a hosting company Rely.net, and had done really well with it, and Layton is on the programming side, and they were both kid geniuses. . They are very smart guys to have as partners. I've got the marketing side from the record label experience, where I learned the ropes
What's your plans for the business?
Ian Kilpatrick: We're trying to build up the site. Naturally, the end goal is to make it to where we are making enough money so we don't have to sell it, or that someone will buy us because they want the technology. Our initial goal is to make it profitable through advertising and other affiliations.
Any particular next steps?
Ian Kilpatrick: We have lots of features planned, and we really haven't marketed or pushed the site yet. It's been strickly to friends. The next thing is to market and advertise, and we also have lots of features planned. One is creating groups and custom pages for groups or companies, another one we're about to launch is a trip feature, where you can basically pull photos into one area from a trip which started on a date and ended on a date. Right now, you can also import photos from Flickr, we'll have Picasa as well soon.
Ian Kilpatrick: Twitter is a similar one to ours, it's about what you are doing. Although, we started before Twitter blew up, and even before I knew about Twitter. It's all about what you've been up to. It's about the mundane, in a way--it's different from other photo sites like Flickr and Picasa as we don't want to just capture your big moments, like someone proposing marriage or a baby being born. It's whatever you're catching, just day to day stuff. We'll have the other stuff in there as well, but what sets us apart is the chit chat and comments. That's what powers the site, and what drives it. People love jousting back and forth on the comments. That's what keeps the traffic coming back. It's something interesting to get people through the day.