Pikichat is a new iPhone app to share quirky photos with your friends. It is very reminiscent of Snapchat when it comes to design and branding. But the story behind the app is nothing like Snapchat. Two French engineers went to the countryside and coded this brand new app from the ground-up. After a week of intense coding, Pikichat was done.
The app is really simple and could become a fun communication tool for your group of friends. I can see a use case among young smartphone users. After inviting your friends, you can take a picture and share it. But there is a trick. Every time someone sends a new photo, it replaces the existing one.
In other words, a group conversation is just the most recent photo with comments. Finally, there is a simple trigger to anonymously send the photo or comment. The overall interface is very fluid, you can swipe from one screen to the other like in Snapchat or Mindie.
When Rémi Bardoux first contacted me, he was about to leave for a week with Adrien Dulong and had no idea what they were about to develop. “We want to prove that developing an app is not necessarily a long and painful process — you don’t need 5 developers or to pay a development studio $70,000,” Bardoux wrote.
The team wrote a challenge manifesto and shared the progress on Medium. After just a day, they knew what they wanted to do and were working on mockups (iOS developers might discover a few interesting tools to speed up development).
The other posts go into more details about designing the server architecture and preparing for the launch. It’s unclear whether Pikichat is going to be an App Store success, but spending just a week to develop it is definitely interesting.
You can consider Pikichat as a longer hackathon challenge, but it looks much more polished than your average hackathon project. It proves that building a minimum viable product is very accessible these days. You only need one or two talented engineers, computers and a bit of time.
Pikichat also reminds me of Frontback’s original story. The team behind Checkthis developed Frontback in just four weeks. In fact, it really didn’t have a choice as the company only had two weeks left to live — Frontback then attracted 200,000 downloads in a month.
Imagine that in just a month, Pikichat’s engineer duo could probably come up with four different products and figure out if there is a real opportunity to build a startup around it. There has never been a better time to build a software company.