By Bari Faye Siegel
Whether or not you were born a Digital Native – someone who might as well have been born with ear pods already attached – you likely, at this very moment, are surrounded by myriad Internet-enabled devices that connect you to all the information you hold dear. Your music, your contacts, your calendar, your tablet, your desk and laptops – they all sit at the ready just waiting for you to log on.
The problem, however, is that while all of your devices are getting smaller, the size of your pockets isn’t getting any larger and there is hardly enough room for your phone and car keys. Something has to give, which means you can’t be connected to all your information all the time. And if you misplace one of them, your valuable information may be gone forever. Until now.
Snap MyLife, awarded the NJTC Growth Company of the Year Award for 2011, offers consumers an all-encompassing solution for accessing all your devices and the content on them — wherever you go, whenever you want, no matter which device you need. The company’s applications under the Snap™, Snap MyLife®, Snap Sync™, Snap Secure™ and Snap Music™ brands allow consumers to leverage cloud-services with simple, yet powerful applications for content sharing, messaging, editing, streaming, backup and synchronization, as well as device and content security across virtually all consumer electronics device categories.
“Our vision at Snap MyLife is to enable consumers to be able to share, manage and secure their lives everywhere and anywhere,” said Jiren Parikh, president and CEO of Snap MyLife, Inc., formerly Exclaim Mobility. “Consumers are focused on digital content at all times with smart phones, tablets, PCs, television and now even cars are Internet-enabled. Everything is connected to the Internet. We want to allow people to be able to connect to all of their content – wherever it is stored – whether it’s photos, documents, music, movies, TV shows, contact information, their calendar.
“Snap MyLife is about offering consumers cloud-based solutions to allow them to access and share their data – safely and securely,” he added.
The company launched its flagship application, Snap Mobile, on mobile devices. However, in the coming months, the platform will expand to allow people to connect all their Internet-enabled devices wherever and whenever they want.
Where They’ve Been
In 2000, Exclaim was founded and backed by Edison Ventures and Sycamore Ventures. By 2004, it was the marketer of the fourth largest online direct-to-consumer photography product in the world and, by 2006, had new business lines in mobile imaging applications as well as imaging technology licensing. But the company ran into trouble during the 2008 as business slowed during the recession and was looking to wind-down with substantial debt. At the time, Parikh, initially onboard as a consultant for investor Sycamore Ventures in 2006, was running the company’s mobile business. He saw an incredible opportunity and got approval to try and salvage the company. He eventually restructured the debt and spun out the mobile assets – self-funding his new company, Exclaim Mobility.
Exclaim Mobility launched with four employees in 2009 and started marketing Pictavision, the former company’s main asset — a photo application for feature phones (the predecessors to today’s smart phones.) The application gave the basic phones the ability to send, download and view photos. It was launched as a subscription service in 2009 with AT&T as the flagship carrier.
The company’s subscription-based Snap service (re-launched as a rebranded and upgraded version of Pictavision in 2011 when the company decided to rebrand in accordance with its global “share your life” vision) now has more than 500,000 monthly subscribers. The main difference from the early iterations of the application is that Snap supports a larger base of handsets, and also allows automatic backup of photos to the cloud.
“That was great, but we had a larger vision, beyond the one mobile application,” Parikh said. “We wanted to build an all encompassing cloud services to connect phones, PCs, photo frames, cars, TV, tablets and more. We wanted to offer people a reliable was to synchronize, store and secure content and be able to access content regardless of device operating system or where they are and support more than just photos.”
The entrepreneur put a plan for growth in place and decided that the quickest way to the goal line was a mixture of organic technology development and acquisitions.
In 2010, a company called Mobicious owned two free photo messaging and socialization services – Snap MyLife and Snap2Twitter. Exclaim Mobility bought the cloud technology to deploy a large-scale cloud service platform.
Next up, Parikh said, he needed the communication technology to stream music and video. Exclaim Mobility bought a company called Didiom in 2011 and acquired its streaming, place-shifting and music sharing technology.
“So we had some technology in hand but we needed to get additional services in our offerings portfolio. We acquired the software assets of Frame Channel, a company from Massachusetts with the ability to send content from a computer to a computer photo frame or for that matter any device with a screen including televisions,” he continued.
Next came the security piece of the puzzle. Exclaim Mobility bought SMRTGuard in the fall of 2011. The company offered mobile and device security, personal and family location tracking and security, as well as back up technology to protect consumers information — calendar, address book, PIM info, call logs and records, etc. SMRTGuard is now called Snap Secure™.
Most recently, early this year, the company bought Inkubook based in Indianapolis.
Inkubook, soon to be renamed Snap Creations, offered the company a technology and well run business that allows users to create online virtual and physical photo books, print products and other merchandise.
“In addition to the great technology, the acquisitions of SMRTguard and Inkubook brought phenomenal engineers to our team. They are truly our biggest assets because finding and hiring qualified people is currently one of Snap MyLife’s biggest challenges,” Parikh maintained.
Calling the company, which officially rebranded itself as Snap MyLife, Inc., in Q1 2012, a “growth company” is an understatement. In less than two years, the company grew from four people to a team of 110. Parikh says that while he is actively hiring skilled talent, the staff is now at the point where acquisitions will slow down and organic development will kick into high gear.
Where They’re Going…
That’s a good thing, because his plans for the company are both exciting and ambitious.
Parikh’s multi-year expansion plan includes growing the employee base from 110 people to more than 250 people by the end of 2013, led by substantial revenue growth and profitability. (The private company has been self-funded and very profitable for the past two years.)
Snap MyLife, the new name, truly represents the company’s vision. “Share Your Life” in terms of socializing, storing, securing and accessing your content on many new great products in the next three to nine months,’ the founder said.
Geographically, Snap MyLife is planning to expand in a big way in the coming year. The company is based in Princeton with offices Indianapolis, Spain and India. Europe is a major expansion play for Snap MyLife, he said. Specifically, Spain is a very vibrant market in term of mobile technology; the company inked an agreement with Telefonica to launch on all its global properties in Europe and Latin America, when the technology is completely up and running.
Russia is a key market as are Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia. While there is already a customer service and engineering operation in India, Snap MyLife is going to expand selling functions in Southeast Asia, as well. “We want to work with handset manufacturers because there are so many new Android device manufacturers launching. We think this is a great opportunity to go direct-to-consumer with Snap services pre-loaded on handsets.”
Ever committed to the consumer, Snap MyLife is also making paying for services as easy as possible. The company now offers customers the simplest way to pay for digital services through PayOne AnyPhone. Subscribers have the option to pay for services with a mobile, landline or broadband account via any connected device. No credit card or sensitive financial information is required.
While the products and services and growth plan is critical to Snap MyLife’s success, nothing is a higher priority than the company’s most important resources – the human kind. “It is vital to me that we keep our company very grounded and based in creativity and metrics. We hire great people who understand our goals and objectives. Snap MyLife is a really fun place to work and we want fun people who know how to work hard and play hard.”
Parikh is the poster child for that. “When I have free time (not that there’s much of that these days), I love to be outdoors. I’m an avid skier, fisherman, alpine climber and I love to travel.”
He is also a visionary entrepreneur, having won the Philadelphia SmartCEO 2011 Circle of Excellence Award for Turnaround of the Year.