Thanksgiving break just started and I've decided it's finally time I created a startup. I intend to turn my blog into a journal, documenting my experience. I've had an idea for a while, and I'm hopefully going to turn it into fruition this week.
It's currently just after midnight on Wednesday, November 23rd. I'm a sophomore in college and I'll be turning twenty in the coming months. I'll be back in school on Monday. I've just finished some Calculus II homework and I've actually got a two day late project to finish tomorrow (or today really, as the clock just past midnight). In addition, I'm a programming on a four-person startup called CommuniCAD, in which I also have to create a feature tomorrow. Pickup football tomorrow as well. I might just be busier now than during my time at school. In fact, we're supposed to release CommuniCAD on November 28th, and typing out that I'm challenging myself to start and finish a startup in a week, meanwhile creating the first customer-tested version of a product on another startup I'm working on sounds crazy. I have to be awake in about four hours to see Croatia face Morocco as well, and I will be watching all the world cup games (albeit I will work while watching). I have no logical reason to do this now. Anyways, let's get started.
After going to the beach with some friends, a friend sent a Google Photos shared album together to have a single place where we could access all our memories. This seemed great, and it has its purpose, but I thought it could be improved. First, Google having a bunch of pictures with me is my biggest concern. In other words, I don't like the idea a data collection company having access to so many details of my personal life. This, however, is not something I plan to improve upon. Instead, and second, it's not very social. It's strictly a photo sharing & cloud storage platform, which is not an issue at all, but for people using it as I did, there are features that could improve it.
Essentially, it needs convenience features and social features. One big thing is taking pictures inside the app - no more nagging a friend to add their photos to the album. Second - you should be able to like, comment on and bookmark photos. If I want to tell my friend he looks like a buffoon, but I have to spend three minutes looking for the correct photo in our shared Google Photos album, save it to camera roll, send it to him or a group chat, then send the comment, then who is the real buffoon? Not to mention the kicker: that is a text message. If I ever want to see what I said again, I'll have to scroll up pages of texts by just the day's end. It should simply be a comment under the photos. And after typing this, I noticed Google Photos does actually have this feature. Darn. But no one uses Google Photos comments. Mine will be better.
I've been talking about Google Photos this whole time, but I should mention the other inspiration I had. My first thought when I received that Google Photos shared album link was, "why didn't he make a Snapchat group story?" and if I've learned anything from Silicon Valley, it's that stealing from Snapchat is a great idea. Now, I won't actually be stealing the stories feature and I think the final product will actually be more similar to Google Photos or even Instagram. But the Snapchat stories had two key components I want users of my app to have. First, Snapchat stories have different settings where you can change who can add pictures to the story, and who can view them. I like the separation of permissions there. Second, Snapchat stories are more present. If I'm looking at a Snapchat story, it's likely I'm looking at something from the past hour or two, or even more recent. Contrast that to Google Photos, where my friends and I won't do the chore of adding recent photos to our Google Photos album for a week or more.
So there's the idea: an app where uses can create sequential photo albums and add to them in-app. Users can add other uses as viewers or contributors to each album. It will have social media features such as liking, commenting and bookmarking. I also think I'm going to add a feed. I don't plan on having things like followers or friends in the app, because it's really not what I'm aiming for. I want people to have a fun, social way to share many pictures with close friends, not something like Instagram, where people's profiles are mostly a small amount of pictures of things like social outings. I think I'm going to call it Storylines. I'd also like to note that I'd be happy if this didn't take off at all. I generally create something because it's something that I want/something that I believe should exist.
The Tech Stack
Serverless. That's pretty much all I have to say here. There's no realistic way I'm going to write a scalable server in this short span of time, as well as the frontend. I plan on using AWS Amplify, with Amazon Aurora serverless as the backend and S3 to store the photos. Lambda will handle the API calls. The frontend will be Flutter because I simply think it's the best option for most cross-platform apps, and because I know it decently well.