What if Tumblr started on mobile instead of on the web? It might look something more like CheckThis, an app from a startup that began in Brussels and is now based in New York City. The app was launched very quietly over a week ago; it’s free and available for the iPhone only right now.
The idea behind it came from the founder’s history running his own digital agency for 15 years: his musician and creative friends wanted a way to share content online, but felt limited by some of the more popular social tools available. “People wanted a place to make content and share,” Frederic della Faille told me when we met up in midtown Manhattan earlier this week. ”A tweet was not enough, an image was not enough. They wanted bigger space for more content.”
Della Faille likes Tumblr, but he’s not a huge fan of the comparison. “CheckThis is for producing content and Tumblr is for browsing,” he said. And I think I agree with him, as a user of both services.
CheckThis is a great way to tell stories with your mobile device: as I demonstrate in the video below, with just a few taps, you can create a “story” with color, some images, some text, and even take polls of fellow CheckThis users. While most stories I saw were very image-heavy, CheckThis stories are more like a blog posts than social photo-sharing. It has an “insta” aspect to it because the app is on an always-on type of device, but it also lets you be more reflective and thoughtful about what you share.
A standout element of CheckThis is the design: you can tell this is made by hyper-creative types. The choice of fonts; the ability to select specific colors and shades; and the clever scrolling that you won’t find in other iOS apps were purposeful. But the key is giving users just enough tools without overwhelming them, della Faille said. “We try to create a product where you can’t make an ugly thing, where you are proud of every post.”
Like, Vine, it’s almost stupidly simple to use. But unlike Twitter’s short-video sharing app, it’s not nearly as intimidating when it comes to actually producing content. Vine seems to assume a certain facility with what makes a good video; CheckThis is far more open.
Naturally, an important question is: Do we really need another social network? For some people, they will. They might appreciate the creative community popping up in CheckThis. And for those who just want to use the tools, you can connect your account to other platforms you use, like Facebook and Twitter. It isn’t yet connected to Tumblr, but della Faille tells me that will be added in a future update.
The team of seven developing the app has been mostly quiet about CheckThis, but it has raised funding over the last year: just under $1 million from Lerer Ventures, Betaworks, Index Ventures and SV Angel.