Olapic Raises $1 Million For Crowdsourced Photo Sharing Platform; Warby Parker Backer Great Oaks VC Invests

Olapic, a NYC-based startup which allows publishers and brands a way to collect photos from their fans for use on their own websites, has closed a $1 million seed round. Investors include Bonobos, Warby Parker, and Geeklist backer Great Oaks Venture Capital, as well as Brad Harrison Ventures, Columbia University’s Lang Fund, and several other angel investors.

The company has already worked with brands including Condé Nast, Pepsi, NY Daily News, The Baltimore Sun and sports teams like the Mavs, Grizzles, Giants, Ravens, FC Barcelona and others, and is now expanding its reach to another vertical: e-commerce.

Founded by three Spaniards, Pau Sabria, Luis Sanz and Jose de Cabo, who met while attending Columbia University, Olapic allows website visitors to easily contribute their own photos to be used online, via a simple upload tool that can access locally stored photos, or those shared on social services like Twitter or Instagram, for example. Depending on a publisher’s preference, they can provide an upload tool on their website, encourage users to share photos with a particular hashtag, or do a little of both.

Photos aren’t immediately posted to the site, for obvious reasons, but a moderation tool is provided, allowing the business or brand to quickly go through user submissions. In fact, co-founder Jose de Cabo tells me, the service can be “doubly” moderated – on Olapic’s end, the photos can be matched first using a combination of humans and algorithms to make sure that it’s actually a relevant photo, as opposed to a mistake or spam.

“We saw, almost two years ago, that there was a change in the way people were communicating,” explains de Cabo of the inspiration for the service. “There was a more visual way of communicating – where people were sending photos as a way of telling stories to each other,” he says. Last year, the company launched its initial product, which focused on brands, sports teams and media companies, and, as noted above, has seen a bit of traction, both in terms of ongoing installations as well as in short-term social media campaigns.

Now the company is debuting its new tool for e-commerce, and has launch partner Free People using the technology on its website now. There, items are tagged with a link that says “share your style,” which directs shoppers to post their hashtagged photos on Instagram or Twitter for inclusion on the website. (Example here). The service can also aggregate all the photos from all the widgets across the property to create a collection of everything the brand’s users have shared.

Pricing for the service is SaaS-based, beginning at $300/month going up to several thousand per month, depending on traffic. But the company is also soon re-opening its self-serve platform, which will be freemium, and will offer some lower-priced tiers. The website is currently being updated with that offering and more, so stay tuned. In the meantime, interested parties can reach out directly.