Normally I try not to be critical with start-up companies because the founders are taking a huge risks and face a lot of pressure. Start-up companies and free enterprise is one of the biggest reasons why this country is the best place to live. The reason I am being critical of Color is because they raised $41 million in funding without even launching a product or gaining any traction first.
That is not what typical start-up founders do. Surely Color founder Bill Nguyen is not a typical start-up leader because of his glowing track record, but the point I’m trying to make here is that start-up founders are supposed to bootstrap, gain traction, raise funding, and then build something even greater.
When Color launched, they just tried reinventing the wheel and hoped that would work. Now the company is trying another idea and it appears that they are trying to reinvent the wheel again! They need to seriously stop wasting much money on bad ideas when they are fully capable of building something great and unique!
Version 1.0 of Color was a mobile photo sharing social network. They launched this in a market where Facebook and Instagram ruled supreme. Facebook already has hundreds of millions of users and Instagram made photo sharing fun by adding filters. What made Color different? They wanted you to have the ability to see the photos uploaded by other Color users near you. What if you lived in Watonga, Oklahoma? Would you not see any photos at all since you are the only Color user there?
Color has relaunched and the new idea sounds just as bad, if not worse, than the first idea. The idea behind Color version 2.0 is to create 30-second video “status updates.” I am utterly disgusted because Facebook and YouTube provides the resources TO DO THE EXACT SAME THING! Couldn’t they come up with anything better? A photo storage service with Web 2.0 tagging feature would be a much better idea than this one.
Here is my prediction for Color at the rate they are going: In 6 months from now they will realize that this idea is also terrible. They will launch an app that copies off of another idea such as users “checking in” to something.
I know that I’m not in the position to talk since I have had any successes yet under my belt yet, but if I had Color’s resources I can guarantee you that I could some up with some better ideas. These are a few ideas I would consider if I was CEO of Color today:
1.) Get out of the mobile space in general. Just because the mobile market is “hot” right now, it does not mean that everyone has to jump on the bandwagon. After spending $350,000 for Color.com and $75,000 for Colour.com, it does not make sense to build something that has NOTHING TO DO with the word COLOR! Adobe Photoshop and Picasa are still the two dominant players when it comes to photo editing desktop software, but there is a lot of room for another company to build something even better.
2.) Create an app that automatically syncs all of your iPhone and Android photos into very organized albums in the cloud in real-time and make it available on the web too. For example, if I take 50 photos when I’m at Disney World on my iPhone, I would love to go to my computer when I got back to my hotel room and find the photos are already uploaded and ready-to-view on the web so I can play the slideshow for my family.
3.) Be like the Foursquare of photos. Let’s say I’m partying at Buffalo Billiards in Austin, TX on a night during SXSW and I take a group photo. Color would ask me if I want to associate that photo with Buffalo Billiards. Then another person walks into Buffalo Billiards and opens the Color app to find the latest photo that was taken at that same bar. This way Color would not have to deviate too much from their original idea and it makes the app more interactive and fun. Some people may actually consider, “I should open Color first and check out some recently taken photos at this place before I check in on Foursquare.” I would also do a huge marketing blitz for this type of app at SXSW too. Foursquare grew by leaps and bounds at SXSW a couple of years ago because of the promotion that they did during that conference.