A new startup called Pics.io out of the Ukraine hopes to take the next big leap in the online photography workflow, by making browser-based, fully collaborative RAW image file processing a reality. The team has plenty of experience working in digital photography, and is now looking for funding to help turn its very basic prototype into a full-fledged, shipping product.
Pics.io consists of a team of three founders, including Konstantin Shtondenko, the head of marketing and PR; Vlad Tsepelev, the technical lead; and John Shpika, who brings everything together. Their ambitious goal is to unseat Adobe as the industry standard for RAW photo processing, and they have backgrounds in medical imaging, commercial photography and more to make that happen. The company is currently bootstrapped, but it has already managed to build out proof-of-concept designs and a rough working prototype on an extremely small starting budget of around $3,000 U.S.
“We set a goal to elaborate a number of concepts into the photographer workflow,” Shtondenko explains about the genesis of the project in an interview. “I mean concepts like zero footprint approach or really fast image processing using GPU. Then we developed a proof-of-concept for each of those ideas to make sure they could be done at all. I was really surprised that almost all ideas were technically ‘doable’.”
From those beginnings, the Pics.io crew assembled its proofs together into a basic prototype, and began shopping that around to the photographer community it had built strong ties to with TopTechPhoto, its Lightroom plugin-company. Feedback so far has been amazing, Shtondenko says. “Right now we’re working on production version of the service that will include the ideas we started with, and a lot of details we got from that deep research,” he said of the product’s current state. Around a month from now, the startup will begin onboarding the first users, and they hope to release the product wide by the end of the year.
There’s one looming difficulty for Pics.io, and that’s for Adobe to step in and take its cloud-based shift to its logical conclusion. A version of Lightroom that allows for greater collaboration and operates in the browser could potentially threaten to occlude Pics.io completely, but Shtondenko says that’s not something the company is going to let stop them.
“Adobe is a giant, but who says that there should be just one solution?” he said. “We’re sure that even if Adobe ships in-browser raw converter we will find our audience. We have a pretty consistent vision that goes far beyond just another raw converter or DAM (digital assets management) system.” The company plans to go beyond just Pics.io and release other products as well, he notes.
Something like Pics.io is the next natural evolution of offerings like Aviary, but designed specifically for a professional or enthusiast photographer crowd. A lot of startups are gaining attention and traction targeting photo opportunities, and Pics.io seems like it could hit a particular note among ad agencies, photo studios and media companies that could prove quite lucrative. The startup is at an early stage now, but what it’s already accomplished bodes well for the future of in-browser RAW processing.