Time to put fingers to keys again! This year has been a roller coaster of a ride. As many of you are aware, or may be aware, we have spent the last 6 months or so rebuilding the ClickASnap site with a whole range of features. Firstly, I would like to thank our 100,000 or so monthly users who have put up with bug’s, downtime, technical issues and more as we have gone from that first launch, and first huge influx of users from Mike Brownes first video introducing Clickasnap to the world. When those people started hitting the website and it crashed and burned was one of the most stressful evenings of my life, especially as not being a coder all I could do was literally sit back and hope the developers could fix the issues within a reasonable amount of time. Fortunately they did, and every single time an issue has come up it has been corrected and this has made the platform more and more stable, this has led to our steady growth of about 20 new signups per day and an average of 750 new photos per day with no current advertising spend. However, the site we have today (03/12/16) was copied off one of our other sites and then repeatedly fixed, fiddled with, and new features added which is why it looks a bit like a badly put together jigsaw puzzle currently. The site we will be moving to within the next (hopefully fingers crossed, touch wood and a few other lucky charms) couple of days is a culmination of everything we have learnt over the last 9 months, feature requests from our users and things we think will 1) improve the sites functionality, and 2) lead to better interaction and therefore more photo views.
This new site has cost us an extremely large amount of money, (5 figures and counting up) in fact almost 3 times what we had originally budgeted as certain things had to be corrected and brought in to ensure that everything on the site is as smooth and functional as possible. No dead ends, no lost in notifications and nice easy common sense flows throughout the site. We know a lot of people are watching this business and we know that a lot of large institutional investors are watching us. Whilst investing such a huge amount of money into the new platform is one hell of a gamble this early into a business we strongly believe it is necessary to spur these watchers into action, to come and join us and help ensure the future of this new era in online technology.
Some of you may be reading this and wondering what our longer term plans are. Are we just planning on being an image hosting site that allows monetization? In answer to your question, quite simply, no. I like to consider myself a big picture thinker. I like to think years in advance, plan accordingly and deal with any issues that I can see arising during that time. So what are some of these things and what are we going to do about them?
- Existing social media. Currently, we are up against some major platforms for image hosting, Facebook being the biggest obviously. Facebook is already causing us issues with their mobile browser blocking the functionality of the site, and just as importantly, if not more so, their massive reduction of reach on any posts with links in. This doesn’t just affect us, but any website outside of Facebooks‘ walled garden. We don’t see this reducing, in fact it’s more likely to get worse as Facebook is forced to try and live up to it’s share price that’s trading at 84 times Price to Earnings currently. And what happens if people desert Facebook which is certainly happening with most young users nowadays. Our proposed solution? To cross Facebook’s feed within our own platform, having the ability to post statuses, communicate with your friends, no restrictions on post reach, comment, like and share said posts thus creating huge reach within our network and in time, making the use of sharing to Facebook redundant, or certainly only necessary for newer users.
- Piracy. You have spent thousands of pounds and thousands of hours buying equipment and perfecting your art. You pop your photo online and before you know it, it’s all over the web and there is very little you can do about it. Assuming our cash flow is there, in 2017 we plan on building our own search engine. This is going to utilise the power of our server auctioning system to index the entire Internets image libraries. This will be done on a daily basis, possibly even a real-time basis and will be patrolling for unauthorised use of your photos, which once found will then be passed through our legal system and the perpetrator will be fined and the image removed. No longer will you be fighting alone for such things, you will have a huge platform behind you acting as an enforcer.
- Virtual reality. We are already in discussions with 3D developers to create virtual art galleries, where you and your consumers will be able to wander around an art gallery hosting your own images. We have some really exciting ideas for this one!
- Efficiency. I love maths, and consider myself quite the geek, and nerd, and probably a few other things. This means that I hate inefficiencies. Daily I scour through excel spreadsheets and endless data sets to shave of fractions of penny here and there, these all add up, and whilst not massively apparent to most users now, when the site becomes much bigger these fractions will add up to significant amounts which will then be reflected in share prices and the pay per view sums.
- Stability. It may not look like it, but ClickASnap has so far cost about £500,000. Now, whilst a lot of this was invested into our video platform (which without ClickASnap would not exist today) over half has been invested into the ClickASnap platform directly. The vast bulk of this has gone into ensuring the sites overheads are as minimal as possible, servers are bought for 3 years at a time, high front end investment, low running costs versus low front end investment high running costs. This is for two reasons, 1, it protects the shareholders who invest and 2, protects the users who spend the time preparing and uploading content to the platform. We could, quite easily pay me a nice salary, hire our own developers, get a plush office and have office parties every other week. In fact this is what a lot of startups do, a year of partying it large with a huge burn rate (amount spent per month, basically company overheads) and then bust shortly afterwards, or, endless requirements for investment thus diluting all of your shareholders repeatedly. Here, we don’t do this, no salaries are paid, I take no money and everything is subcontracted. (Don’t get me wrong, I am not doing this purely out the kindness of my heart, however, I am long sighted, and I would rather take nothing now and a big sum down the line than strangle a new born business, although I must point out i do have a massive love for photography.)
- Interaction. We want people on the platform, and who come to the platform to see your content and interact with it. This is something that is continually on our minds, and as previously mentioned is something we will look into in depth in 2017.
These I would consider to be the major things I look at. Many smaller issues, and larger issues will no doubt appear over the coming months and years, which, we will no doubt solve in one way or another. We, and I, will always listen to the users of the platform, as it is you who use it, and ultimately, you who will have a significant say in where the platform goes. Whilst, this is a business and not a democracy, not listening to your customers is never a good thing to do!
In the next few days our site will launch, and you will be able to access it. Please bear in mind it is still a public beta. We have done our best to find what bugs we can but when opening up a new site to many tens of thousands of users bugs will appear, please report them in the relevant field in the forum and we will endeavour to correct them as soon as possible. What is likely to happen, is that any major bugs will be dealt with immediately, all the smaller bugs will be amassed and then dealt with in one go early January (Christmas puts a big dent in things!) The new site does of course involve real money and a lot more of it with the ecommerce, we have a 100% money back guarantee for any orders, or issues with billing so if you do come across an issue then please report it in the forum, or directly to me at Tom@clickasnap.com and I will get it dealt with as soon as is humanely possible.
In conclusion, I hope you enjoy the new site, and I hope giving you an insight into my thought processes gives you a greater understanding of our longer term plans.