Hipster Changes Its Strategy, Now Wants You To Send Digital Postcards

Do we really need another location-based photo-sharing app?

Hipster, a service I’ve written about countless times, is unveiling its first open-to-all product today — and it is not, like we’ve written about and many anticipated, a local Q&A service. Hipster has joined the mobile social local photo sharing locomotive and made an app that yes, lets people share photos, with their phones.

When asked the question in bold above, which is likely to be any logical person’s first question upon seeing the product, Hipster CEO Doug Ludlow replied, “Sending a postcard is the first step in Hipster’s very, very long journey, and we decided to start this journey with a feature that is fun, beautiful and viral.”

Ludlow says that the company’s eventual goal is to capture “the most important information, the most fascinating people, and the most interesting moments that take place in the locations around us,” and eventually hopes that people will pull out Hipster to get a good sense of the stories surrounding a given location. The postcards are just a “wedge feature” he emphasizes, a way to get people to actually use the service.

When Hipster soft launched at SXSW, the 37K people who signed up for the beta were promised that “something cool is coming to your city” and Ludlow says that the products they’ve been iterating on, local Q&A, postcards and countless others that no one saw are all attempts to solve the loneliness problem exhibited by many services when they attempt local (Color is one that immediately comes to mind). “If you’re the only person on most location-based services,” he says, “it’s a terrible experience.”

To send a Hipster digital postcard, sign in with Facebook and/or email, snap anew or use an already taken photo and choose from one of ten postcard “themes,” which are basically different photo filters, font choices and styles.

The app lets you edit your location, add what you’re doing and who you’re with to the card as well as share to Facebook and Twitter. Other Hipster users can like and comment on the as of now landscape oriented photos. Ludlow plans on adding the ability to take portrait shots and see Likes through the mobile app in a later release.

To view photos on Hipster, simply sign in and select Friends to see postcards from people you’re following, or Nearby to see additions from people nearby. Swipe a given image and it will turn around, just like a post card, revealing its location and other data. You can also see the postcards mapped out on Google Maps.

When asked what differentiated Hipster from the most popular contender in the photo-sharing space Instagram (other than the fact that Hipster actually has a robust web interface), Ludlow said that the differentiating factor was Hipster’s emphasis on location, and that he sees Hipster’s postcards as more of a visual check in, or a “check in evolved,” “I’m not going to pretend that we’re much different from the 30 other social media services,” he says. “If I think we’re going to disrupt anything it’s location-based services like Foursquare.”

With $1 million in seed funding from Mitch KaporDave McClure/500 StartupsLightbankGoogle Ventures and others, Hipster plans on trying out various ways to monetize including selling the printed versions of its digital postcards, advertising and yes, local deals.