Three guys from Provo, Utah set out on a mission to make QR codes, those boring pixellated, black-and-white squares come alive — in other words, to extend their functionality by turning them into realworld “like,” “follow,” and “buy” buttons. And it’s been working. In February, Scan announced a seed funding round from Shervin Pishevar, Google Ventures, CRV, Start Fund, Social + Capital, Ludlow Ventures, and more. The company moved their operations from Utah to San Francisco, and is currently sitting at just over 12 million downloads across iOS devices.
How did it become one of the top downloaded QR code scanner in just over a year? Because, beyond the basic scanning functionality offered by a host of iOS and Android apps, Scan offers a variety of services and features that let SMBs and enterprise companies create mobile optimized QR code, NFC, and other tech experiences to let users can QR codes with their phone and immediately “like” products or businesses on Facebook, follow on Twitter, check in on Foursquare, etc. Check out how businesses are using it here.
As Scan is in the business of creating apps that extend the potential application of QR code tech, Scan is today leveraging the buzz around Instagram to let businesses, organizations, etc. build their Instagram user base via QR codes. The new app, appropriately called Scan-to-gram, lets users scan QR codes and instantly follow a company and its employees.
The company has already lined up a bunch of notable Instagrammers to be part of its initial launch, including Warby Parker, Zooey Deschanel, Nike, Marc Jacobs, GQ, Vevo, Audi, Nat Geo, and the L.A. Lakers — to name a few.
With Instagram’s acquisition by Facebook, the platform is becoming increasingly appealing — beyond what it already had. Brands are excited because it provides early adopter-types and mobile enthusiasts with a simple way to boost their followers, which gives them access to another social media channel and potential branding opportunities.
On top of that, it can be a clever way to draw users into the Scan.me ecosystem, which already allows businesses and individuals to create QR codes that represent their online presence — like an About.me for QR codes. Of course, QR codes have a less-than-terrific reputation, which is why Scan has focused on the content and the experience — in other words, what the person or business is trying to accomplish.
With Scan-to-gram, it’s Instagram, and obviously the potential permutations are numerous. Plus, they’ve expanded to 1-D barcodes, and are preparing for NFC and image recognition, whenever the mainstream becomes ready to adopt.
Currently, Scan is using barcodes as its rev stream, so that when a user scans a barcode, they are taken to a page where there’s a Google button, an Amazon button, and a third for an ad. Scan makes affiliate dollars as well as ad revenue, but the long-term model, CEO Garrett Gee tells us, is to build out more valuable mobile experiences, increasing the depth of its analytics and reporting tools, offering those to businesses at a price.
The barcode revenue is just starting to pick up, Gee says, at over $1K-per-day.
Oh, and even though Scan-to-gram was just pushed live this morning, the Instagram team reached out to them today, and has created their own page as well. Find it here.
For more, here’s Scan-to-gram at home, and an intro video below: