Electronic devices are fun, informative, and often necessary, but they can create their own problems for users. Sometimes the issue is just the frustration of wanting what you want immediately, or close to it, and not being able to get it.
Suppose you’re on the phone telling a friend about an amazing close-up you got of a grizzly bear in Alaska. You want to post it immediately to Facebook so she can have a look, but you can’t remember whether it’s on your laptop, your iPad, or your cell phone. What to do?
Or an electronic device filled with personal data may suddenly vanish, either misplaced or lost. Do you have to go back to square one?
Snap MyLife, based in Princeton Service Center, is solving these problems and more — and the marketplace seems to be appreciative. High demand for the company’s products on online marketplaces is fueling the company’s rapid growth; and its president and chief executive officer, Jiren Parikh, expects the company to double in size this year and next.
In the next few months, the company expects to launch what will be its centerpiece product, also called Snap MyLife — a cloud service that will manage all of a user’s content on different Internet-enabled devices.
This includes smart and standard mobile phones, computers, tablets, and televisions. It will allow content to move easily between those devices. “Wherever the content is, it should be instantaneously available wherever you are,” says Parikh.
Explaining the lure of his products, aimed at a target age group of 25 to 45, he says, “Everything we are doing in the company is about sharing, securing, and managing your life everywhere in this connected world — photos, music, electronic information, and ebooks.”
The company’s Snap Mobile product is its largest in terms of subscribers and revenue. It is a photo upload, backup, sharing, and messaging application for regular cell phones that gives the consumer the ability to manage photos as they would with a smartphone.
The company is also keeping its eyes on up-and-coming devices and has plans to connect them all. Eventually, says Parikh, his centralized service will be just as easy to use, whether the device involved is a television, a game box, or a car.
“In the next 24 months there will be a plethora of applications where media and content are available in your car and information from your car available elsewhere,” he says.
When completed, Snap MyLife will automatically back up and sync photos, videos, and music on smart phones, tablets, and personal computers so that they can be easily moved and shared. When the product launches in early May — for photos and videos — the synchronizing function will mean simply making a replica of the files on all of a user’s devices to the cloud,or the Internet, where it will always be safe.
Later in 2012 this function will expand to include making replicas and synchronizing files of photos, videos, and music from device to device (as does its competitor, Dropbox).
Music will be added to the product mix in the summer via a product called Snap MyMusic. Consumers will be able to automatically synchronize non-Apple devices (that is, Android and Blackberry) with iTunes wirelessly, and store their entire music collection in the cloud.
They will also be able to stream music and videos from their home computer to any smartphone while on the road. Finally, users will be able to share samples of their music collections with others through a simple share option, either by streaming from the cloud service or directly from their home computer where the music collection resides.
Later this year or early next year, the company will add support for e-books; game consoles, including the ability to back up game data and scores; and Internet-enabled television.
A big step forward was the acquisition of SMRTGuard in the fall of 2011, which laid the way for Snap MyLife’s fastest-growing product, Snap Secure. Currently available for Android, Blackberry, and standard cell phones, it offers device security through the phone’s GPS that can help locate and track a stolen, or misplaced device. It also enables a user to wipe or lock the content of a missing phone and remotely control the device, capturing its keyboard and controlling its camera.
It also can lock a device’s SIM card, a portable memory chip used in certain cell phones, so that a thief is not able to take out the existing card and pop in his or her own. Snap Secure also offers data protection via antivirus and antispam software that is constantly monitoring and locating any type of external threat.
Also falling within Snap Secure’s definition of “security” are the human beings who use electronic devices. It offers, for example, geofencing, whereby a parent can be alerted if a child leaves some predefined geographical area.
The product also includes panic features, so that if users are being followed or feel otherwise threatened, they can press preprogrammed numbers that automatically start up real-time tracking, updating locations every 60 seconds; notify the police; and send texts to friends and families. It will also turn on voice controls on a Blackberry.
Snap Secure’s last feature is data backup and restoration. It automatically backs up e-mails, texts, call logs, contacts, and calendars so that users can restore their entire system to another phone, whether the original phone was lost or is simply being replaced by a new phone.
This feature is currently available for Android and BlackBerry smartphones and Android tablets, with versions in development for Windows mobile; Symbian, Nokia smart-phone platform; and for regular cell phones.
Since its January launch Snap Secure has been selling very well. “We just started marketing it, and it has been a runaway success, adding 1,200 to 1,500 new subscribers every day, at $5.99 per month,” says Parikh.
Snap My Life was founded in 2000 under the name Exclaim, with backing from Edison Ventures of Lenox Drive and Sycamore Ventures of Alexander Road. Exclaim marketed a photography product directly to consumers that by 2004 was the fourth largest of its kind in the world.
This legacy product, now called Snap Mobile, manages user-generated content on a standard cell phone that gives users some smart phone capabilities when handling photos. A photo can be backed up and posted to more than 20 social media sites, tweeted, e-mailed, or texted. The company is currently at work on the next generation of the product, which will be cloud-based.
The company was originally based on Silvia Street in West Trenton and moved to Princeton Service Center in 2008.
Parikh joined the company in 2006, when he came on as a consultant for Sycamore Ventures, at about the time the company had added mobile-imaging applications and imaging-technology licensing.
By 2008, however, the company’s business had slowed down drastically with the recession, and it had substantial debt. But Parikh was not ready to give up. The debt was restructured, and in 2009 he launched a new self-funded company, Exclaim Mobility, with four employees.
They started marketing a product called Pictavision, a photo application for regular cell phones that gave them the ability to send, download, and view photos; the product was launched as a subscription service with AT&T. In 2010 an upgraded version of Pictavision was rebranded as Snap Mobile.
In 2010 the company acquired cloud technology from Mobicious, which owned two free messaging and socialization services, Snap MyLife and Snap2Twitter.
The next big step was to create the company’s cloud service, Snap MyLife, through a combination of Snap Mobile’s mobile software technology and Mobicious’s mobile photo sharing and messaging service.
In February, 2011, Exclaim also acquired certain assets and businesses of Didiom, a New York company, including the capability of place shifting, that is, streaming music and video from one place to another, for example, from a home computer to a mobile phone or a car.
The acquisition enabled Snap MyLife to move beyond the ability to share photos and video to enable consumers to stream, share, and manage music and audio between their electronic devices.
In July, 2011, Exclaim Mobility acquired the software assets of Frame Channel, a Massachusetts company, which will ultimately enable its users to send content from a computer to a computer photo frame or any device with a screen, including a television.
In January, Exclaim Mobility rebranded itself as Snap MyLife, the name of its flagship product. Also in January Snap MyLife purchased Inkubook, with a product that allows users to create virtual and physical photo books, scrapbooks, cards, and calendars with an online editing tool.
Inkubook users can also share their creations via Facebook and other blogs or websites. According to PMA Marketing Research, consumer spending on photo publishing products exceeded $1.4 billion in 2010 with strong growth trends.
Soon to be renamed Snap Creations, the product will come out in September, integrated into Snap MyLife, so that all photos can be synched. With the closing of this acquisition, Snap MyLife was able to open an office in Indianapolis.
Parikh moved around as a child. Until age 10 he lived in Hillsborough, then spent time in Detroit, and in Long Valley, New Jersey. His father has worked as a research and development executive for pharmaceutical companies in the New Jersey area, retiring from Johnson & Johnson.
Realizing that college wasn’t for him, Parikh found work in sales, marketing, and business development. He began his career as general manager and founder of United States operations at Elektroson BV. He moved on to Infonautics, an Internet information company that was based in Philadelphia, beginning as a manager, then becoming director of business development and finally director of international markets.
He then joined Broadbeam Corporation, a provider of specialized mobility solutions in Dayton, Ohio, as vice president of internal operations and left as vice president of strategic accounts. Then, after working as a managing consultant for MAP Management, he served as vice president, general manager, then chief operating and finance officer at Exclaim.
Right now the company is focused on hiring and scaling with engineers and product managers. “We’re hiring folks in Princeton,” says Parikh, who wants to alert people to the opportunity to get involved in developing existing and new products.
When asked what challenges the company is facing, he said the biggest is scaling with people — finding qualified, talented people to support the company’s rapid growth. It has not been difficult to integrate the staffs of acquired companies, because the teams have been eight or fewer individuals.
The company is now expanding its operations to start selling its products and services globally. Not only does it sell directly to consumers, but Snap MyLife has also developed and is continuing to develop carrier relationships internationally to market to individuals through their mobile phones — which requires integrating subscriber acquisition and billing with these carriers as they come on board.
In February the company opened an office in Bangalore, India, which will house expanded research and development activities and an enhanced customer service support team and is expected to grow to more than 150 employees by the end of the year.
It will serve as a hub for Asia sales, in which Russia is a particularly important market. Additionally, plans are in the works to partner with Android device manufacturers in Southeast Asia to preload trial applications of its products on their mobile devices.
Snap MyLife also has an office in Madrid, Spain, to serve Europe, the Middle East, and East Africa. Spain itself is an excellent market for mobile technology, and Snap MyLife has an agreement whereby Telefonica will launch Snap products on the many carriers it owns globally, in both Europe and Latin America, once the technology is ready.
Snap MyLife is managing its Latin American target markets — where it is focusing on Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Colombia — from the United States and has a salesperson presence only in the markets themselves.
Currently the company has more than 500,000 paying subscribers and 110 employees, with 60 on site in the Princeton location.
It is looking to grow to 250 employees by the end of 2013. Last year the New Jersey Technology Council gave Snap Mylife its Growth Company of the Year award.
As for competition, that does not concern Parikh, who says that Snap My Life competes with many different companies — “anybody making an application or a service for next-generation, Internet-enabled devices.”
“We’re looking for our piece of the market, and we have our growth plan,” he says. “We don’t look at the competition; we are building good-quality products and making consumers happy, and that’s our success.”
Snap MyLife Inc., 3490 Route 1, Princeton Service Center, Building 16, Princeton 08540; 609-720-1900; 609-720-1911. Jiren Parikh, president and CEO. www.snapmylifeinc.com.