One of my favorite startups from the most recent 500 Startups demo day was Tiny Review, which makes a photo-sharing app with a twist. Instead of adding filters and sharing with your social network a la Instagram, Tiny Review makes it easy for users to add up to three short lines of text to their photos.
Tiny Review works because, like Twitter, it causes the user to really think about what he or she is sharing — to work within the constraints not just of three short lines of text, but also around the photo in the background. And brevity is the soul of wit, after all. The results are mostly irreverent and oftentimes hilarious:
Once someone has added text to the photo, they can share it to social networks like Facebook and Twitter, with connections to Foursquare and Tumblr coming soon. There’s a location component, which is meant to allow users to “review” various locations, sort of like Yelp, but shorter.
But the way that its users have utilized the app sort of flies in the face of the original premise, however. While there are some who use it like a more humorous version of Foodspotting, most seem to embrace it as a way to add witty taglines to pretty much anything. Tiny Review has embraced the remix nature of the community it’s built by letting users build on top of others’ pictures by adding their own text. That’s created increased engagement from those who wish to create or build on memes within the community.
For now, Tiny Review is trying to grow its user base by word of mouth and by tapping into other social networks. It’s got a Facebook page and a Pinterest page to highlight some of the more creative uses of the app. It’s also working to drum up celebrity interest in the app, which can help draw some viral interest. That said, the team is convinced there’s something there that “regular” users will love: co-founder Dick Brouwer told me in an interview, “If there’s one thing that excites me, it’s that my mom uses this.”
Tiny Review was founded by Brouwer and Melissa Miranda, who have worked together on gift registry ListCharming. Now that they’ve graduated from the most recent 500 Startups class, the Tiny Review team has moved from Mountain View to Palo Alto, Calif., with $300,000 it’s raised in angel funding.