Israeli Startup Moment.me Is Reimagining Events With Automatic Albums
Have you ever come home from a party or concert and scrolled through the few photos you took, wishing you could see the event from other perspectives? Moment.me a website and mobile application lets you do exactly that, without lifting a finger (well, maybe just once in order to open the app).
This Tel-Aviv based startup, founded three years ago by Ronny Elyakam, Eilon Tirosh, and Boaz Adato, automatically aggregates photos, videos, and tweets from specific events, pulling together related content from all over the web. I had the chance to visit Moment.me headquarters, where I sat down with CEO and co-founder Ronny Elkayam and learned the simple concept behind this million-dollar startup.
Real moments, virtual sites
“We started the company based on the principle that real life happenings or events are the most important things to people. We realized that the virtual world and the real world are extremely different, and wanted to close that gap by giving real life events more meaning within the virtual world,” Elkayam explained in an interview. “At Moment.me, we are taking real life happenings – parties, events, conferences, and trying to replicate them in the virtual world as closely as possible.”
Moment.me built and launched their first product about two years ago– a mobile application for consumers, which garnered more than 4.2 million unique users. Drawing most of their users from Southeast Asia, South America, and the United States, Moment.me hit it off immediately with iPhone-savvy, selfie-loving millennials. Almost all of Moment.me’s users are under the age of 26, a group that gravitated toward the ease and ingenuity of automatic album creation.
But why exactly does one take real events and make them virtual? Elkayam offered this example to best illustrate the Moment.me process: “Imagine you are enjoying yourself at a party and you take some pictures and tweet a bit, and the friends and strangers around you are doing the same. When you go home, you don’t have a good reflection of what happened, you don’t get the beauty of the event. You have your five photos and that’s it. We are taking everything that is posted to social networks, aggregating that information and centralizing them into one event. That means that you will be able to see a beautiful album of the party from every angle and everyone’s different points of view.”
Data mining to maximize the moment
The technology starts by identifying items that are related to a specific location, using tools like geotags and keywords. It only needs to find a few items since most of the content is not geotagged, but it’s enough to find a few pictures, videos, or tweets from that location. The technology then identifies what is in the photos, words, objects, and goes back to social networks to look for more related photos. The system is self-learning, so whenever there is a reported error, the algorithm corrects itself. Moment.me analyzes and clusters about 50 million photos per day and has already clustered close to 15 billion photos using their smart data mining technology.
This of course, raises the issue of user privacy, since Moment.me pulls content from the web without manual approval from the owners of each individual picture or video. When I broached this question, Elkayam clarified that Moment.me only shows public content, and complies with the privacy settings of the social networks it gathers from. That means if you’re posting photos to a select group of friends on Facebook or Instagram, those photos will only be viewable on the Moment.me app to those selected friends.
A ‘microsite’ feature for event, conference planners
Although the Moment.me app has reached relative success with steady growth and media spotlight with their mobile app for personal moments, the company has bigger plans for the future. Using a recent $1.5 million cash injection from Blumberg Capital, the company has recently unveiled its newest product: a feature called a “microsite” which targets businesses instead of individuals. The so-called microsites don’t aim to replace company websites, but serve as automatically generated hubs of content for events such as conferences or weddings. The microsites use the same event-based aggregation technology, collecting related content from the web onto one page for clients to easily navigate without ever leaving the site. Event planners and organizers can use “tabs” to add event sponsors, agendas, directions, floor map, guest-lists, etc.
To give hosts more control over the content of their microsites, Moment.me allows them to personally approve photos before they appear and most recently added the option to send out event invitations in the form of “online campaigns”. These campaigns are customizable event invitation emails, which are tracked so hosts can see who received, opened, clicked, and RSVP’d to the event. Elkayam explained the campaign feature with another analogy. “Imagine you are organizing a conference and you have a list of 5,000 people you want to invite. You create and format an email campaign with tools we provide, you send them this invite when you’re done, and then you can keep track of who has registered. And that’s a service that’s currently not accessible to small businesses. They are accessible to medium and large sized businesses in the form of marketing email automation, which is a very expensive service, but we give small businesses these tools, free to use.”
Currently, this microsite service is free for seven days, after which the site disappears unless the host pays to keep it live. In this revenue-generating model, it costs $10 to keep the event live for a month, and $20 for unlimited, permanently live microsites. Moment.me has marketed and sold this service to clients like wedding planners, nightlife promoters, small business owners, and more.
Here to stay
After hearing about the company’s successful consumer app for personal moments, available in the App Store and Google Play, and burgeoning popularity of their newest microsite feature, I asked Elkayam what other features Moment.me has in store. “We have different products that we will launch in the future with the same principle. The latest product is venue-centered aggregation. So it could be a concert venue or bar and we could stream a live feed of everything happening in that bar. Then every night could be an event,” he said. This new feature is called ‘Places,’ allowing users to see any event or place in the world as real viewers see it an in real time.
With exciting new products in store and steadily growing users, Elkayam says Moment.me has proved that it’s not looking to join the ranks of fading automatic album creators like Everpix and Flayvr. Instead, he says Moment.me is learning how to differentiate itself among competitors and adapt to changing user demands. “We offer the best replication of real life events in the virtual world. It’s as simple as that.”