Find Peace of Mind Sharing Private Pics With 7Moments

By David Knight |

Sharing photos on the internet can be a painful experience. Going beyond the obvious – how many of us have seen friends put pics up on Facebook that we would rather they hadn’t? – it can also be a time-consuming consuming exercise to upload them all and sort them out.

Which is why you shouldn’t scoff at the thought of yet another online photo-sharing service. For a start, the people behind 7Moments ought to know what they are doing: Led by Stefan Kellner, who helped launch foursquare forerunner Plazes, the three-strong team also includes David Linner as CTO and the man known as Kosmar as CPO and head of product.

7Moments was the brainchild of Stefan Kellner.

The service – currently in closed beta, although gaining access is not too difficult – enables users to upload a bunch of photos and have them look good without any trouble. They can then be shared by inviting others, through their email addresses, to see the album.

‘It’s Always Private’

So what’s the big deal? As Stefan explained to SILICON ALLEE, the idea is to make sharing photos online easier – whilst ensuring peace of mind for anyone worried over their privacy: “All albums are private by default; there is not even a setting to make them public. I think it is very important to give people an environment where they can trust and rely on their privacy without messing around with settings. If you wanted to publish something publically, you would not go to 7Moments. If you wanted to publish it to 20 people, that’s fine, you can do it. This is our position: It’s always private; it’s not a matter of configuration.”

And where better to demonstrate the benefits of 7Moments than at home? The first three people to be invited to use the service were, Stefan says, his parents and his 14-year-old daughter. “Many of my daughter’s friends aren’t allowed to sign up to Facebook, because their parents are against it. But they signed up to 7Moments. The same goes for people who are essentially afraid of social networks, because they only know them from Bild-Zeitung, or whatever, the German Press. But they signed up to 7Moments because it has a clear focus; it’s not like signing up to a social network and building a profile, it’s just signing up for security reasons – I’m signing up and giving my password so I can access the photos, making the photos safe. That’s all. I think that this is a very clear and straight message.”

With 7Moments, there’s no profile and no way of, for example, importing photos from a private Facebook album to which you have been given access and then making them public. But beyond the privacy, the service also promises to make the chore of sharing the endless photos we take with our digital cameras that much easier. And that all stems from the inspiration which gave Stefan the idea in the first place.

The Internet Guy in Nepal

“I was on a trekking tour of Nepal at the beginning of 2012, in a group of 12 people who were all strangers to begin with, and of course everybody took photos. When it came to the last couple of days, we were thinking about how to exchange all of these photos. We were talking about sending emails or DVDs or whatever. The group was very heterogeneous; there were old people, young people, even people who didn’t own a computer whilst having a digital camera. I said, ‘hey, I’m the Internet guy, I’ll take care of this when I’m back in Germany.’ When I returned home, I was sitting at my computer and trying to find a solution, and I couldn’t find one. I thought about this for a couple of weeks, and then I made the decision: Let’s just build this.”

And so he set out to make the best out of this use case to which he could find no decent existing solution. The fact he chose such an experienced team is also intriguing. Stefan added: “For the first version, we just put together a frontend and a backend, and it instantly worked. There is no learning curve any more. We are not like university kids that try to figure out how to build a website; we’ve done this a couple of time before.”

Time certainly seems to have changed Stefan, as he acknowledged that he was nowadays much more interested in solving a problem than chasing that elusive new concept. “You have a starting point, a proposition, and then you can build from that. And I love that. I love that much more than wandering through the fog and finding the vision.”

This coming from the man who recognises that Plazes was actually too visionary, too far ahead of its time – two years after it was sold to Nokia, along came foursquare essentially doing the same thing, but this time all its users had iPhones with geo-location. “When we started [with Plazes] there was nothing, not even GPS in phones.  It was crazy.”

A One-Button Experience

The 7Moments team have concentrated on just a small number of features in order to make the platform look good from the very beginning. This, they feel, is a key aspect – as Stefan says, “you don’t want to upload your photos into a crap environment.” That, in turn, leads on to his answer to the Big Question. How are they going to make money out of this?

“The first thing is to allow users to order photo books and prints, as well as things like posters, because that is very natural. You have a special event, you take photos, you exchange those photos, you curate those photos, and then you maybe want to print them as a photo book. Because each time, it would be a special event; your wedding, your birthday, travel, whatever, and we want to have a photo book system which is as easy as the album; no need to spend hours on designing it and uploading photos. It’s more like a one-button experience.”

The second part of the moneymaking plan is for premium memberships, but perhaps of more importance to Stefan is to encourage more photos into the cloud. “If you think of the photo book market in Europe, which is worth around €2 billion, it is still a very small fraction of photos that are taken that actually go into the cloud and will be printed. Only about 7 percent of all photos are printed.

“The idea of an album is still a good one – people used to make their own physical albums, and although that kind of went away over time, the idea is still very good, to have a fixed set of photos you want to keep with a cool design. A 7Moments album is something you can keep online, or print.

“And don’t forget, all those cool kids in social networks, they will have kids themselves at some point.” And they’ll want to take lots of pictures!

7Moments went into beta in November, and it will stay there for another few months, although a German-language version should be forthcoming much sooner. The team is also working on missing features, such as commenting on pictures, and going mobile with iPhone, iPad and Android apps.