Origami, the new family-focused product from Y Combinator-backed mobile social network Everyme, has now arrived after nearly a year of development. A spin-off of sorts, Origami takes some of the original inspiration behind Everyme – that people are looking for new ways to share outside of larger, more open social networks like Facebook – and tweaks the formula to address the needs of parents and families, specifically.
“What we saw pretty early on was that probably 50 percent of the usage on Everyme is families,” explains Origami co-founder Vibhu Norby. “And that’s 50 percent of total Circles [Everyme's groups], but in terms of actual usage, it was almost 100 percent of people using it with their families,” he says. “We felt like we found the market, but the product itself wasn’t really intended for that.”
Sustained by its $2.15 million A round, the company has been focused on Origami, a new product build from the ground up, since August 2012. Like Everyme, Origami offers both a web and mobile platform that allows families to connect with each other in a private group, and share photos. But the service goes further, too, offering tools for sharing videos, creating albums, and adding text-based entries for posting stories, recipes, or other notes.
Launched into private beta this February, 90 percent of the families on Origami today are new parents. “They take the most photos, they share the most photos, and they have the biggest desire for privacy,” says Norby. “We really want to work with the parents’ workload – the idea that they take photos all day long, they take a lot of photos on weekends especially, and they don’t have time to share every single photo in real-time. They want to sit down when the kids are in bed, and think about sharing them then,” he says.
With the new service, parents can set up a homepage for their family, and even grab a custom domain which Origami acquires on their behalf. (e.g. “JonesFamily.com,” “JonesFamilyPics.com,” etc.) The site itself, like Everyme, is beautifully designed and simple to understand. Buttons on the right side of the homepage direct users to share a photo, video or story, and another feature called “Family Request” lets users prompt other family members to share photos, videos, or stories of their own.
Another section of the site lets users create photo albums, and allows for import from your computer as well as a number of other photo-sharing sites including Facebook, Picasa, Flickr, and SmugMug. These collections can also be shared via email, or back out to Facebook and Twitter.
At launch, Origami also has apps available for iPhone and Android, understanding that not all family members may be using the same mobile platform. Here, users can also post and view the moments and photos albums, plus receive notifications when new content has been added.
The service still has some kinks to work out – not bugs, necessarily, but places where the experience could be a little smoother. For example, if you go to upload from social services, there’s no way to retrieve the photos y0u haven’t already put into albums; it also can’t access those photos you’ve been auto-uploading from your phone to Facebook, Google or Dropbox (the latter two of which are not supported), and in some places on mobile, it’s missing multi-upload. But the product is still in development, and many of these features are still in the works. For example, the multi-upload function is just two weeks away.
Overall, the site fills a niche that many other mobile-only or mobile-first startups have ignored: that parents may want more of fully-fledged social experience, rather that just an app. Often, new parents (and especially moms) turn to standard blogging platforms these days instead of traditional “baby books” to record those early memories, but Origami offers another option for that kind of sharing with a service that falls somewhere in between a Tumblr for parents and a private social network.
Norby says the company’s vision is to re-create the experience of “home,” and that’s something which the real domain names it gives its users’ websites provides. “Facebook is not a home, let’s be honest – it feels like another person’s service,” he says. “[Origami] is private. It’s its own place somewhere on the Internet.”
Origami is not free, but its pricing, like the service itself, is simple. There’s only one tier: after a free 30-day trial, it’s $5 per month (discounted to $50 per year, if billed annually) for unlimited photos, videos, members, and the custom domain.
Really my only problem here is that I have to figure out how to import all the content I have spread out across all those other family-focused and private social services – Path, Notabli, Kidfolio, 23snaps, Tweekaboo, Hubble, Famil.io, Familiar, and others.
Being an early adopting parent can be tough.