Local entrepreneurs create photo sharing app
Keenen Charles and Anikha Achee are the duo behind “TapTag” (taptagit.com), an app available for Android phones that allows users to leave behind pictures in locations for others to find. Through the use of the TapTag app, persons can snap pictures of their adventures and fun memories. When others with the app come along, they are able to see and unlock the memories left behind – allowing for a sharing of time and space amongst travelers and locals alike.
Both Keenen and Anikha have backgrounds in computer science, with Anikha saying they’ve also dabbled in marketing. “When we first started UWI, there was a competition to build a game and we ended up in the same group,” says Keenen of how the two first met. He adds that they worked well together and had a lot of ideas to bounce off each other.
“Eventually, we came to a very early form of what TapTag is now,” he continues, explaining how the app evolved from air messages (leaving notes, reminders, moments, and experiences) to what the app has become today – an interactive way of sharing multimedia that is uniquely characteristic of its user but can also transcend the experiences of others.
At present, they have over 1,000 app users on Android phones. Their niche market includes persons who travel often or have moved to new cities, but they also hope that everyday adventure seekers can find entertainment through the app’s experience.
In January of this year, the duo was successful in the Challenge Cup-Caribbean, an annual, international incubator and venture fund that facilitates global competitions and opportunities for startup businesses. Hosted by the Caribbean Returning Nationals Foundation (CRN) and 1776 Challenge Cup, the Caribbean leg of the Cup saw a sleuth of budding Caribbean startups pitch their business ideas that promised to solve major challenges of our time.
The vying startups had to pitch a business plan to a panel of judges, highlighting the ways in which their business was scalable on a global platform, and the overarching betterment of such a business to society as a whole.
Keenen and Anikha were chosen as one of three Caribbean startup businesses that represented our region in the Regional leg of the Challenge Cup in New York earlier this month. The lead up to their pitch in New York included many mentoring sessions facilitated by the CRN.
“We met with a lot of mentors from the Caribbean, most from Trinidad, some from Jamaica,” says Anikha on the advice they received before heading to the US to further pitch their business model. She says the area they have the least expertise in – marketing – was their biggest challenge to overcome. While the development of the app comes almost second nature to them, spreading the word and getting app users is an area they are most willing to learn about.
On March 3, Keenen and Anikha traveled to New York to pitch their startup at the Challenge Cup Regional. With a packed schedule full of mentoring sessions, they immediately hit the ground running.
“We mostly went for mentors with business and marketing background,” says Keenen. “They gave us advice on the things that we are not as knowledgeable about, feedback on our pitch, advise on the business and how we are going about things.”
“I think we got a lot of advice to help us in terms of reaching more people,” adds Anikha. “It was really sound advice. A lot of it could be applicable to help get more users, get more traction.”
They say their pitch in front of the panel and other competing startups was “nerve wracking”. In total, 35 startups pitched their ideas, hopes, and possible advantages of their business models to wider society. Three startups from the Caribbean pitched their ideas followed by a round of speedy questions from the panel.
Most of the questions posed to the TapTag team included how they planned to expand their business and their exact marketing strategy. Before they knew it, their pitch was over.
Although their budding startup was not chosen to move on to the final Challenge Cup round, they say the advice, networking, and experience of competing will not be lost on them.
“Now, I guess it’s time to put all the advice we got into good use,” says Keenen about the future of TapTag now that the team is back on home soil and eager to expand. “There’s a lot of work to do but it’s exciting to get started.”
Anikha also highlights the importance of new Caribbean businesses and the hope that more regional and international exposure bred by such competitions and platforms as the Challenge Cup- Caribbean continue to arise. “There is so much going on here [in the Caribbean], people should get to see all the cool business ideas and startups out there.”
Their next obvious step is to release a version of TapTag that is available for iOS users (electronics running Apple software) – users who research shows are more inclined to snap pictures with their iPhones, and who may possibly launch TapTag into app superstardom.
Keenen shares, “Our long term vision is to create a way for people to share not just their travels, but everyday little discoveries you make. Experience things from other people’s perspectives.” He lays out an example that through the app, documentation of the ways spaces change over time can become more accessible and fascinating to the average man on the street.
Anikha agrees. For her, TapTag is about sharing human experiences and bringing people together through their surroundings. She says, “We all need moments of escape, of discovery, and to experience the space around us.
“Ten years ago, it wouldn’t be possible to put an app out there. Technology really made things easier for people to connect. That is our real goal – for people to share their memories.”
"Local entrepreneurs create photo sharing app"