Four Colorado Springs entrepreneurs are developing a smartphone application that they describe as a “Wikipedia for locations,” designed to allow users to post text, photos and videos stories tagged to the location where they happened.
Dan MacFadyen, Justin Lukasavige, Taylor Holmes and Justin Bergen started Stori to develop a location-based social media application by the same name that they expect to test with users in late February and make available to smartphone users about a month later. They hope to attract up to 600,000 users by the end of the first year and believe the potential market for the application is in the millions of users, said MacFadyen, the company’s chief “stori teller” who also works in Internet marketing for local Christian ministry Compassion International.
“Our application will allow users to record and share their best memories where they happen. Every single location has a history of memories left there and our application will bring those memories to life,” MacFadyen said. “This application will lengthen the lifespan of content. Right now when you write a post on Facebook or Twitter it is typically buried by other content within minutes or hours. If you attach a location to that content, it can live for years, since stories are ranked based on their popularity with other users.”
Stori hopes to raise about $500,000 early next year through wealthy individuals called “angel” investors or venture capital funds to pay for Web hosting, marketing, staff salaries and other expenses. The four founders have used their own savings to pay a company from India to develop the Stori application for both the iPhone and Android operating systems. They haven’t determined how they will generate revenue from the free application; the founders have focused almost entirely on developing the technology.
“We are working on building the most beautiful interface and experience for users and not worrying about how to monetize it. We have a lot of ideas on how to do that, but we need to get the application out in the marketplace in the hands of users and see how people are using it to determine the best one,” Lukasavige said. “We have not raised any funding yet because we felt you could focus on either raising money or developing the best product. We decided to develop the best product and believe investors will come to invest in it.”
Stori is trying to capitalize on the growing market for location-based smartphone applications. Funded in part by a venture capital firm headed by the founder of Netscape, Foursquare has attracted 25 million users in 3½ years for its application to check in at stores, restaurants and other locations in exchange for discounts and special offers. The most direct competitor to Stori is Banjo, an application that lets users view other users’ Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter profiles by location; it attracted 1 million users in its first nine months of operation.
The Stori application will connect to Google Places to get location information and will import or export from Facebook and Instagram, MacFadyen said. Users will be able to follow posts from other users or from specific locations. As a security feature, users will be able to delay posting for up to 12 hours, he said.
Lukasavige also works as marketing director for The Exodus Road, a Woodland Park organization combating the exploitation of children in the illegal sex trade industry. Holmes works with MacFadyen at Compassion in its Web products operation and Bergen is a mobile application developer for Fluke Networks.
Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234 Twitter @wayneheilman
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