A women-run startup called honeycomb Launches its private family social app, backed with $ 4 million seed funding led by Peter Boyce from Stellation Capital. The app is now out of the private beta phase and offers families the opportunity to curate and share their favorite moments and memories via their smartphone, as an alternative to using a more public social media platform such as Facebook or group SMS, on which photos and Videos easily saved can be lost.
It is noteworthy that Honeycomb is the first startup that Boyce supports with his new company, Stellation Capital, founded that year after leaving General Catalyst. Other participants in the round are DCM (Kyle Liu), Bling capital (Ben Ling), and Predecessor company (Charles Hudson) as well as angels like Ancestry CEO Deborah Liu, Giphy founder Alex Chung and Twitter VP of Engineering Nick Caldwell, formerly Reddit.
Honeycomb itself was co-founded by the CEO Amelia Lin, previously from Udacity and Optimizely, and former Instagram product manager Nicole Wee. The co-founders had been inspired to create an app that would connect families through private social networks, but originally approached it with another product called Saga. Their first app was a social audio experience that families could use capture and record their life stories – such as stories about the first meeting of the grandparents or even just birthday wishes for a child, which can later be listened to as a kind of audio diary.
But while this app was received a lot from early Press, it wasn’t exactly what families wanted. Instead, the team kept hearing from early adopters that they wanted to save their photos and videos too, not just audio recordings. So the team turned around and renamed their app to Honeycomb last fall.
The new experience started in private beta tests in September and offers families the opportunity to save their favorite photos and videos, which are combined with text and turned into a kind of digital story. Today’s experience isn’t necessarily much more robust than, say, a group chat over iMessage, but it does provide an easy way to revisit older shares, which can be tricky when using text messaging. Plus, users can set up a reminder so they can remember to curate their favorite memories of the day – a feature probably best for new parents who quickly fill their phones with dozens of new photos every day when their baby reaches new milestones Achieved.
“We’re making it a really easy daily ritual to sort through the best memories of the day,” explains Lin. “You choose your favorites and they are automatically compiled into this story that is not only shared with your family but is stored in this collection forever,” she says. However, she notes that the experience is not intended to replace users’ existing photo services like Google Photos, Apple’s Photos app, or Dropbox, where people back up and save all of their content – including duplicate photos and those that are shared have not quite turned good looking.
“I don’t think this is the curated, beautiful place where I interact with my family,” says Lin. “And then [users may have] Facebook and Instagram, but it feels really public to post my baby photos. ”Honeycomb, on the other hand, is private by default.
“Only your family can decide who’s in here, and I think that’s a whole different philosophical approach,” says Lin. She also states: “We do not sell your photos or your data to third parties.”
Honeycomb is also different from popular social apps in that it is a subscription-based service rather than one that is monetized through advertising. For the time being, however, the app is free because the startup is launching the new app.
The company is working to bring the older family users into the platform, including support for exporting its content to share elsewhere. But the team thinks drawing new baby and kids photos could be the pressure grandma or grandpa needs to figure out how to install the app on their phone – even if they’re not tech savvy.
After users download Honeycomb, they first get access to a number of basic features. But soon they’ll be opting for the new beta, which has a more engaging story format to share memories with family and friends. (This opt-in will not happen immediately, it will be implemented now, the company clarifies.)
The idea of going back to human curation rather than AI to help users find their best photos and videos is certainly a different idea. these days. But whether or not people want to sort out their daily snaps – especially after the “New Baby” buzz subsides – remains to be seen.
AI can also be useful. (Presumably some intelligent AI would have known that a photo of a person, and not a toy, would appear as the cover photo after I created a birthday photo album in the app). AI can also help users automatically sort photos by discarding those with poor lighting or poor exposure.
What users generally don’t want is for an AI to have the final say on their “best” photos or put together albums with no context to their lives and what they think is important. And they don’t want AI to use automated “reminders” to remind them of times they’d rather forget.
The best solution, however, can be a balance between AI and manual curation, but in a private, social setting.
Since Honeycomb is practically a new app, the startup doesn’t share user numbers. But Lin notes that engagement has tripled since moving from Saga.
“Honeycomb is a truly mission-driven company that uses technology to realize one of our most basic and long-standing human desires: to archive and share our family memories,” said Peter Boyce of Stellation of his investment in the startup. “Honeycomb has the potential to bring the family album into the 21st century. It is rare to find such a large problem area that is ripe for a sudden change in function in innovation. Families are ready for the next development of social apps that are meant to be personal and intimate and this team is developing them, ”he added.
Honeycomb, now a team of seven, plans to use the new funds to hire engineers who will work in person from its San Mateo offices. It is expected that around 10 people will be added.