Innovative software platform seeks to redefine the photo opportunity
With around 2.62 billion people using social media worldwide, it’s no surprise that we want to capture and share every memorable moment — from our wedding day to our vacation to visiting the world’s biggest ball of twine. Even brands are jumping on the social media bandwagon by using influencers to promote their message to a vast network of followers. twineIT in Toledo saw this photo sharing frenzy as an opportunity to help individuals and brands make events feel more like experiences by redefining the place where it all began: the photo op.
“What we do is share marketing,” said Jonathan Hawker, co-founder and president of twineIT. “We create visitor experiences at events, promotions and sponsorships through a photo op, which is an iPad photo system where people take branded photos and then opt-in to the app to share these experiences across their social media channels.”
The applications of the system, called twineSTUDIO, are multifold. Through the photo op, companies or events can generate leads and curate brand ambassadors — influencers who have shared the branded photos to their followers. Event professionals, like photographers or DJs can even use that platform as a photo booth at corporate or private events to generate revenue for themselves. The key difference between twineIT’s photo op and traditional arcade-style photo booths? Metrics and analytics.
“The first thing we’re doing is collecting an engagement metric, which measures impressions and shares,” said Hawker. “Then we can dive a little deeper and tell the company which people are creating the most impressions. These people are your influencers, and as a company, you can go back and target them differently. If they’re sharing a lot or promoting your brand, you can say ‘hey, we’d love for you to come to the conference next year, here’s a ticket on us.’”
In addition to twineSTUDIO, the company has created an administrative dashboard-like gallery where events are created and branded. A companion app, twineSNAP, allows users to create shareable, group galleries and interact with photos by liking, commenting and sharing. Think: a weekend trip with friends where everyone uploads their shots to the same place.
“My co-founder and I had the idea of aggregating photos using the cloud before anyone knew what the cloud was,” said Hawker. “We recognized there was a gap in the social media world where photo aggregation or interaction on an event level was not happening.”
To help with handling the transitions of their startup, twineIT received funding and mentorship from LaunchPad, an Ohio Third Frontier partner based out of the University of Toledo. After receiving entrepreneurial assistance in the incubator, the company then turned to NextTech Ohio, another partner of the Ohio Third Frontier, to take their business development to the next level.
“The roadmap of a startup is often a twisty, turning, lumpy one,” said Hawker. “Our company is founded on Midwest values, which makes it different from what you might see in Silicon Valley. From the beginning, we’ve decided we’re not going to have a ‘build it and then they will come’ attitude. We’re trying to have a foundation to grow here, and northwest Ohio has been very supportive of us.”