Storehouse is a company we’ve written about a bit before. It’s a beautifully constructed iPad app that lets you build stories on the fly from text, video and images. It features one of the best visual editing interfaces I’ve ever used and a crisp, standout presentation style.
Today, Storehouse is announcing $7M in A-series funding led by SherpaVentures. Seed investors True Ventures, Lerer Ventures and Designer Fund are also in on this round — along with some anonymous ‘strategic’ angel investors.
Storehouse was co-founded by ex-Apple iPhoto veteran Mark Kawano, who also worked at Adobe and Frog design studio and The Daily alum Timothy Donnelly.
The funding, says Kawano, will be used to build out their staff, which already boasts talent from Apple and Facebook as well. The money will also be used to keep the product free ‘for now’ to spur growth. There have been some unique use cases that the Storehouse team has seen emerge from its current user base. Among those is the way that people in developing countries and students are using the platform to create things like ad-hoc textbooks and instructional stories. Keeping the platform free while people explore these opportunities is important, says Kawano.
“We were surprised by the amount of traction we got in the first few months,” he says. The app has seen hundreds of thousands of users and tens of thousands of stories across a wide range of content types.
The funding will also be used to grow things like the web version of Storehouse and additional mobile apps for platforms like the iPhone. Video features will also be a focus.
“Video is something that we’ve seen really gray traction on, and we feel the way we’re using it is unique and novel compared to other publishing apps,” says Kawano. He notes that because videos can be used as accents or scene-setting alongside text and images, people have been dipping into their libraries to pick out clips that would have otherwise gone un-used and un-seen.
“We want to continue to be far ahead of other people in that space,” he says. “We were surprised by how…right from the beginning people were thanking us for ‘unlocking’ that video for them.”
There are also some behaviors that are emerging that have people shooting video in discrete segments of 30 seconds or so at a time for use in things like recipes or DIY stories. These chunks of time are equivalent to single shots of what could be a longer take. Presenting them in a Storehouse story takes the pressure off of the shooter to get everything nailed in one take. This also makes them perfect for things like recipes.
Kawano says that going with SherpaVentures had a lot to do with investor Shervin Pishevar. “One of the things that was really attractive about Shervin was his alignment with our original vision, which was to enable the world to tell stories,” says Kawano. “He’s a really special type of individual in Silicon Valley.”
“Storehouse is showing us the way forward, what is possible when it comes to creativity on iPad and tablets,” said Om Malik, partner at True Ventures who is another investor in Storehouse. “Mark and Tim have a very clear and compelling vision of visual storytelling and what’s possible is exciting.”
My personal experiences with the app have been very positive, and the types of stories that are getting shared are incredibly varied. There are a ton of apps out there that are allowing you to share content in atomic units of ‘one’. That is to say, one picture, one video, one whatever. Storehouse is one of the few that is attempting to make the collection and presentation of these smaller units beyond easy and intuitive. And the end product is so polished that it feels like the result of a lot more work than it really takes.
For that reason, I’m willing to look past the fact that they’re going for scale at the moment, and using funding to get there. I grilled Kawano on that in the past, as it’s one of my pet peeves, but he says that they considered taking on funding carefully. They could have, he insists, built something smaller and more focused for individual photographers or enthusiasts, but he and Donnelly saw the opportunity to make something that didn’t just service a niche, but democratized the kind of creation that had previously been limited to a select few.
Now they have some money to do that with, so we’ll see how it goes.