Three Romanian best friends have chosen Newcastle as a base to launch their stripped-down photo-sharing service, aimed at even the most un-technical of minds.
Radu Oprea, Dragos Bardac and Ovidiu Naclad came to the North East last year after securing a place on the Ignite100 accelerator programme.
The trio, who have known each other since childhood, had already developed a working version of Lifebox.mobi, an online system for building private photo albums that are easily shared with friends and family via a single link.
The idea was born following a conversation over the dinner table, as Mr Oprea explained: “Lifebox started when my girlfriend told me I’d be sleeping on the couch unless I could sort out our holiday photographs. It got me thinking as the process of organising and distributing photographs generally means you have to connect your phone or camera to a device, download the pictures, then attach them to an email, then you might have to miss a few photographs because the email is too big.”
Together with Mr Naclad and Mr Bardac – who is also a professional photographer – Mr Oprea began building a solution to the problem.
Lifebox allows users to quickly place photographs into an online album which is private to them. They can then choose to invite others to view or edit the album via a single link, which could be sent in an email, text message or publicised through social media for public consumption.
Mr Oprea added: “Of course, there are ways of sending your friends and family photographs, like Whatsapp and Snapchat, but few offer an easy experience.
“We’ve tried to solve that issue with Lifebox. You don’t need to make an account, you aren’t restricted by size of album and it’s useful for large parties where you want to share photographs from a number of sources with multiple access.”
The Lifebox team had already passed through a “pre-accelerator” programme in their native Romania before joining Ignite100.
During the six months of the Newcastle-based programme, they honed their technology into an ultra-simple system and developed ideas about the target market and monetisation of the system.
Mr Oprea explained: “Originally, we thought Lifebox would be aimed at teenagers and young adults who use mobile devices frequently. As we began to get deeper into the design and development during the Ignite programme, we quickly realised that older generations really got it and found it useful.
“Now we have a regular user who is 72, and enjoys the simplicity of it.”