Written by Jerred Ziegler.
Thanks to photo sharing social networks like Instagram and Facebook, we’ve become a generation obsessed with taking pictures and showing them off to the world. Attend any event, and you’ll likely see people taking selfies. Capstory, a startup with roots in Columbus & Cincinnati, Ohio, compiles these event photos and creates an interactive experience for guests and hosts with its photo sharing technology.
Using Capstory, event attendees can easily text or e-mail photos from their mobile device to a central web-based hub. The photos are then displayed on screens at the event and organized into digital albums for the hosts.
“We wanted to make Capstory dead simple, which is why we use text and e-mail instead of making our users download a photo sharing app,” said Suprasanna Mishra, co-founder of Capstory. “What can everyone with a phone do, regardless of skill level? Take a photo and send a message. The simplicity of our system is why we receive 5-10 times more photos at events than our app-based competitors.”
Capstory customers, whether it be a bride or corporate planner, sign up in advance of the event and have immediate access to their web-based photo portal. Before the event starts, cards are placed on tables directing guests to text or e-mail their photos to a specific address. Once guests start sending photos, they are displayed for all to see and then deposited into the private photo portal. After the event, customers can have Capstory retouch the photos and even make books or video montages to commemorate the event.
Mishra and co-founder Dustin Studer are from Cincinnati and Columbus, respectively, and have taken advantage of Ohio Third Frontier resources in both regions of the state. The company is headquartered at Rev1 Ventures in Columbus, and has received investments from CincyTech with a branch office in Cintrifuse, both in Cincinnati.
“The first investment we got from CincyTech is the reason we are here today,” said Mishra. “We used that money to build our prototype so that we could showcase the concept for the company. That allowed us to prove viability and everything started rolling from there.”
CincyTech helped the Capstory team refine their pitch to investors, evaluate their market fit, develop their product and enhance their marketing and sales endeavors. It also connected the company to a great deal of mentorship from Cincinnati-area professionals.
“The mentorship was equally as important as the investment itself,” said Mishra. “At the time, we had limited experience on how to scale a product. The research we had done on our own was nothing compared to the advice we got from real people with real life experience in things like raising investor money and building a prototype.”
The Capstory team moved its headquarter to Rev1 in Columbus in 2014, and appreciates the ease with which they can now connect with other startups in the area. Their original office space was in a much more secluded part of the city.
“Working in Rev1 with other startups who experience similar problems is so beneficial,” said Mishra. “Companies that are further along and have more experience are able to mentor us through some of our issues, and then we can pay it forward and do the same for newer companies.”
To the Capstory team, the biggest advantage to starting a company in Ohio is the low cost of living. They were able to start their business with less capital than they would have needed elsewhere, allowing the company greater flexibility when hiring and recruiting employees.
“There is no difference between the technology here and the technology in Silicon Valley,” said Brad Arner, VP of engineering at Capstory. “The people here are just as intelligent as anywhere else in the world. Thanks to globalization, we have access to the same servers as powerhouse tech companies like Apple. You don’t have to be in Silicon Valley to build a tech company anymore.”
Capstory currently has five employees with plans to hire additional staff throughout 2015 and 2016, specifically developers and sales professionals.
“While we may hire new employees outside of Columbus and Cincinnati to work remotely in the future, we won’t be moving our company headquarters outside of the state,” said Mishra. “We have no interest in moving anywhere else. There are so many resources available in Ohio at places like CincyTech, Cintrifuse and Rev1.”
The company just closed the second half of its seed round of funding and is now focused on creating a revenue stream for the business and making the Capstory system faster, more intuitive and more engaging for users.