The photo collaging app PicCollage has secured $2.3 million in seed round funding from 500 Startups, Floodgate Fund, Freestyle Capital, Quest Venture Partners, Sand Hill Angels, XG Ventures. PicCollage, which has maintained a spot in the App Store’s top ten photo apps since it launched in 2011 just before 500 Startups Demo Day, will be adding a social platform to its editing offerings in the next month.
PicCollage is essentially a layer on top of image collection and sharing tools like Pinterest, Tumblr or Instagram. It lets users take the images they’ve so lovingly collected, remix them together, add stickers and text, and then upload to various social outlets again. To date, the app has seen 35 million downloads.
The idea is similar to Polyvore’s mood boards, but the two companies’ user behavior is noticeably different. While Polyvore users tend toward a clean, sophisticated aesthetic reminiscent of a shopping page in Elle magazine, PicCollage creations are crowded, fun, and cute. Let’s just say it: PicCollage has struck a chord with teenage girls.
It’s unsurprising, considering that collaging is perhaps the classic activity of teenage creatives outside of journal writing. Looking on PicCollage’s homepage, you’ll find a whole lot of featured collages dedicated to One Direction and Demi Lovato’s 21st birthday.
Co-founder Ching-Mei Chen said that although the team didn’t try to target any demographic in particular when they launched, they initially expected PicCollage to attract an older audience, including mothers and grandmothers, who would use the app to make vacation and family photo collages.
Although young women make up the core base of their business, Chen said she does see PicCollage as an inspiration tool that is applicable beyond that demographic.
“Our median age is 20-year-olds and it’s 85% women. And these users are growing up and bringing [PicCollage] with them to college and to their first jobs. They’re going to be used to making PicCollages. We know that teenagers are great to have because they’re the influencers, but this goes beyond teenage fads and One Direction or Justin Bieber.”
Within the next month PicCollage will roll out a social platform in the app, allowing users to follow and ping each other and remix other users’ work.
Building out social makes every bit of sense for a creation app that feeds other social networks, and Chen said that a particular kind of social behavior is already taking place around PicCollage, in which people on other social sites give each other shout-outs through custom collages.
PicCollage monetizes on its user base with in-app sticker pack purchases in the range of $.99-$1.99. More lucrative, however, are deals on branded sticker packs. PicCollage has most recently partnered with Interscope Records to release a set of stickers using images and lines from Robin Thicke’s ubiquitous “Blurred Lines” video (you know the one).
With brand deals, PicCollage capitalizes on the deal itself, a per download fee up to a certain amount, and click-throughs to the company’s website from an in-app banner that appears after a download.
“Our key is to only do content that we feel [helps] the experience of collage making. We wouldn’t do it just for the sake of a partnership. We look for something that’s more interesting,” Chen said. “The Robin Thicke stickers make collage making more fun; it’s been really popular so far. We’ve had 300,000 downloads after a week of it being available.”
With this seed round, PicCollage will be building outs it team, particularly in development and design, Chen said. The company is headquartered in San Francisco with a branch office in Taipei.