A year is a long time in startup life. In just over 12 months since we last covered PastBook, the photo book making service has lost a co-founder, and turned down an acquisition. Today the Dutch company is announcing that it’s raised further funding and launched “collaborative” photo books, a feature that lets digital and printed photo books be multi-authored.
Described as a bridge round, adding to the $250,000 in seed funding it closed in September 2012, the new funding comes from two unnamed private angel investors and previous backers of PastBook, along with an unnamed private Netherlands-based fund. The investment amount also remains undisclosed, though I’m told this brings the total amount raised by the startup to just over $500,000, including the much earlier investment of €15k it received as a participant in the RockStart.Accelerator program.
Meanwhile, Giuseppe Prioriello, who was COO of PastBook, has left the startup “in an amicable way for personal reasons”, according to a company statement, leaving former eBay Italy technical leader Stefano Cutello as sole founder and CEO. My understanding is that, after taking further investment and with Prioriello out of the picture, Cutello is now a majority shareholder in PastBook.
It also comes following an acquisition offer from an unnamed U.S. printing company, which, with fresh capital, Cutello was able to turn down in favour of pursuing his mission to help people “relive memories”, a mission he says is “way broader than just printing”.
To that end, PastBook is announcing a raft of new features today. Top of the list is collaborative photo books that enable users to co-author photo books, which can be browsed via the Web, downloaded as a PDF or turned into a professionally printed book. You simply create a “story” and invite participants by email or your social graph. Each collaborator can then add text and photos by direct upload or by import from various social networks, such as Facebook or Instagram.
Use-case examples given by PastBook include group-gifting whereby people share memories and pitch into buying somebody a gift, collating wedding, holiday or team-event memories, or creating an “In Memoriam” book for a loved one who has passed away.
The web-based app itself uses ‘responsive’ design so that it’s compatible with multiple devices (PCs, tablets and smartphones), although the startup says that native iOS and Android apps are “coming soon”.
In addition to new collaborative photo books, PastBook’s rolled out a white-label solution for publishers, wedding and funeral companies so that they’ll be able to provide the service under their own brand and domain.
Devs can also get in on the action and generate new revenue streams, thanks to a newly-launched RESTful API that enables third-party apps to create and print photo books on-demand for their users.