Watch Momunt launch on stage here.
This interview with Momunt founders Ryan Sheffer and Masha Belyi was conducted by the team at Job Portraits during preparations for the LAUNCH Festival.
Tell us about what you’re working on.
Masha: We're Momunt, an app that shows you the photos around you.
Ryan: We typically leave it at that because we’d rather watch people use the app than debate features and use cases. When people first get on, there’s this exploration phase, and afterward they keep coming back. In our beta, 40 percent of our monthly active users are daily active users, and 20 percent are opening the app multiple times a day. This past week we had one user—someone neither of us know—who used the app for 12 hours. It’s been really eye opening. So yes, we like the simple pitch.
Why did you pick this problem, and why are you the right people to solve it?
Ryan: I remember it was March 8th, 2014, and Masha and I were working together at a previous company. I’d taken the day off to go on a bike ride with a friend, and we were at Manhattan Beach when the sun started setting and it was beautiful, just beautiful. I wanted to take a photo with my phone, but it was dead. I remember looking over to my friend and asking, “How many of these people do you think are posting photos to social media?” My friend was like, “Easily 50 percent.” When I got home, I instantly messaged Masha: “Can we get an Instragram API call at this location at this time?” She did it and found multiple sunset photos.
This next part is embarrassing, but I ended up having a few beers that night—which is very rare for me—and I just started designing. I designed the logo, the name, much of the look and feel, and that work is almost all still in the app. I showed Masha the next morning and she was like, “I love it.” Then she coded a really simple version of it as a website. Within a week we could see the photos around us, then we added a map, and then we began work on an algorithm that organizes the photos, which is really our key to success.
That’s a great story. What's the biggest thing you’re hoping to learn by launching at a 10,000 person event?
Masha: People in our beta are using the app in different ways, so I want to see if any usage trends develop.
Ryan: The concept from the beginning was a platform for location-based photos, but we’ve built a very versatile platform and put a ton of attention into our analytics. Once this big group of people get on the app, we can say, “Oh, when people go here they tend to do this.” Or, “Everyone just looks at their neighborhood and doesn’t browse locations—or the opposite!” Our development priorities will be heavily based on that kind of data analysis.
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