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Tech

Get to know a Toronto startup: Bliiss

Posted by Anna Starasts / February 16, 2014

BliissBrides-to-be take note: instructions on downloading the Bliiss app are something you might want to include in your upcoming wedding invitations.

This Toronto startup has created a photo-sharing app for weddings that allows guests to share pictures they take on their smartphones or digital cameras into one online album. Once you've logged your wedding on sharethebliiss.com and invited guests to join, every smartphone or digital camera photo of the big day can be uploaded to a your Bliiss album, viewable on a mobile or web app. Guests can see each other's photos, comment on them, like them, or share them. Pictures appear in the album as they're uploaded, allowing absentees to catch a glimpse of the party they're missing as it happens. Post-wedding, printing photos is easy since the entire online album can be downloaded.

Launched in July 2013 by John Smid, Charles Smid and Jag Gundu, Bliiss has already signed up 1000 weddings, with some of the more active parties having more than 100 guests signed up and 1000 wedding photos collected. I asked John to share some of what has made Bliiss such a hit with couples tying the knot.

What was the inspiration behind Bliiss?

Every wedding I've been to, including my own, has had dozens of guests snapping hundreds of photos and then never sharing them. Isn't it a shame that all those glorious moments were captured but never shared?

Bliiss not only allows guests to see, comment on, and share each other's photos, they also get the opportunity to see the professional photographer's photos.

When I got married my grandparents couldn't make the trip due to my grandmother's ailing health. They had played a very meaningful part of my life, and to this day, I wish so badly that they could have been there. Bliiss is the next best thing to being there. Because photos captured by the app feed the album in real-time, people who couldn't make it because of illness or distance can now watch the wedding happen as though they were there.

How does Bliiss make money?

Bliiss is free to download and use, but we make a margin on the printing services we offer, which are very competitive and completely optional.

Who are your competitors in this space?

When we've talked to couples at wedding shows, many of them have mentioned
that they were considering Instagram. Instagram is great, but there is no way to
own a hashtag and you can't easily download all of your photos.

Is there a particular wedding that Bliiss was part of that really stands out to you?

A favourite is the wedding of Academy Award winner Roger Christian and Bollywood personality Lina Dhingra. They really went all out, creating signs for "Bliiss Zones" to encourage guests to take photos at picturesque locations throughout the venue. Their wedding also had some amazing moments captured by guests - like Lina riding to the procession line on a rickshaw and Storm Troopers crashing the reception (Roger won his Oscar for his work in Star Wars). My favourite Bliiss shot of all time is the Storm Troopers taking a selfie.

What's coming up next for Bliiss?

A lot. We're adding several new features to the app, including a rapid-shot mode where guests can "snap, snap, snap" photos and upload in bulk.

Discussion

40 Comments

Ryan / February 16, 2014 at 07:17 am
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Despite what they say about Instagram not being a competitor, several weddings I've been a part of recently have created and used their own unique hash tags. Usually it's a mash up of the couple's last names, and that's unique enough that no one else will use it. It's an easy way to document everything from the engagement to the honeymoon. I don't see the added value in another app when there are already so many instagram users.
Mongo replying to a comment from Ryan / February 16, 2014 at 10:03 am
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1024x1024 or 3 inches by 3 inches, that is the reason why instagram won't do. I am also working in this space and we will have our product ready by q4.
jeff / February 16, 2014 at 10:18 am
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What space are you working in? Providing a service that really isn't needed but hoping some will use it?
Mongo / February 16, 2014 at 11:20 am
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Jeff, if you aren't capable of seeing a space existing out of this then you have no eye for disruption, and if you have no eye for disruption then, you know, keep on being you. If we were in the 80s you probably would poo-poo the idea of personal computing, asking the question of why do we need another expensive device when all the promises of it makes is already served by other things and equate it as un-needed. People tend to not want or need something that doesn't exist.

Also, much bait?
Chris / February 16, 2014 at 11:21 am
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Wedding photographers are going to be bummed lol
Lol replying to a comment from jeff / February 16, 2014 at 11:33 am
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LOL So true
Sarah / February 16, 2014 at 12:46 pm
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Quite calling it a space. Its an app wedding couples. Good or bad you sound like a joker when you say I'm working in this space as well. Either way this isn't about you and you Q4 launch, if yours is any good maybe you'll get a post toor maybe you'llbe too late to the game...
Jess / February 16, 2014 at 12:51 pm
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He's working in the space of launching a similar product months afterwards. We already have this app and early adopters will have them selves and their family and friends using it and sharing if while you haven't even submitted to the app store. Bliis is the best we don't need the rest, spend your time launching something different in Q4.
Thom / February 16, 2014 at 12:57 pm
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Is there a space for ripping off ideas and hijacking other companies posts/launches with your own selfish needs? Instead of reviewing the product Mongo just tells us to hold on, should I move my wedding to Q4?
Steve / February 16, 2014 at 01:00 pm
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Great idea BUT why make it for just weddings? This app could be useful for any event or gathering.
Leslie / February 16, 2014 at 01:55 pm
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Isn't this a little late to the party? There's already several companies that have been doing this for at least a couple of years now. Ive been to several weddings that used either Wedpics or Wedding Party App.
Bliiss replying to a comment from Ryan / February 16, 2014 at 02:33 pm
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Hi Ryan. Yeah, Instagram definitely works for capturing the moment, but there are some critical drawbacks. The most important issue is "ownership of photos". With Instagram, photos cannot be downloaded easily. With Bliiss, the bride & groom can download their entire album with one click.

Another issue is "privacy". Instagram is mostly a public medium and many guests will be publicly posting photos, even if you want the wedding to be private. Since Bliiss is made for weddings, we empower the bride & groom choose the audience just like they choose their guest list.

Yet another challenge with Instagram is how to communicate the hashtag to guests. You can certainly find a way, but with Bliiss we have built the whole invitation process for you.

To sum it all up, Bliiss is made specifically for weddings, so you'll find a lot of special wedding extras that you won't get with Instagram....plus, it is just as FREE as Instagram.
Bliiss replying to a comment from Chris / February 16, 2014 at 02:40 pm
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Hi Chris. Actually we don't see Bliiss as a replacement for pro photographers. The pro photographer will get shots that no one else can, or will. They are also trained to organize those special shots that you want and need for capturing the memory of the day. Bliiss also has a special album for pro photographers to post their pics. That way all of the guests get to see the pro pics too — that rarely happens in contemporary photography.
R-b & Sandro F--d / February 16, 2014 at 05:35 pm
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We are getting married at Casa Loma! Doug, Kathy & Randy are looking forward to our album on Bliss.
Mongo replying to a comment from Thom / February 16, 2014 at 06:41 pm
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You aren't really gonna have your wedding dictated to you by the workings and particularities of an app (@Leslie mentioned a few alternatives to Bliiss, so if you are dying for sometime similar there is no wait). Hyperbole aside, the Q4 launch means the app must have been in development sometime before this post. As for ripping off ideas, Thom, this app itself isn't that unique and its VP isn't that strong.

@jess, maybe they captured the weddings between now and Q4, but Q4 and afterwards, it will be about features and since this isn't a social networking app where there exist a minimum necessity of adopters before its usefulness can be realized, future adopters can easily adopt for their wedding it even if they are the first, or 20 thousandth. So jess, your analysis is a bit wrong.

@Sarah, you can never be late to a game where you intend to change the rules. As for piggybacking on their post, uh? I was defending them against Instagram who only offers 1024x1024 photos, and suggested that there is value in this space to capture photos with higher resolutions which instagram isn't realizing. Also, your criticism of space is fairly, uh, retarded? If you take an effort to situate a position as a joke, you probably should cease discriminating where you pull your panties off to take a shit, since it is all about taking shits, right? The context, the situatedness of it, that doesn't matter, right? Hyperbole aside, @Thom, @Jess, @Sarah: you guys are sock puppets.

@Lesile the pivot for me, this is me revealing my hand a little bit, is partnering up with the value-chain by providing a white-label. Worst come to shove, (i don't know how bliiss backend works, but ours is fairly portable and can run on a standard LAMP sans M stack) these sort of apps will be the ubiquitous. 'gallery' for photographers.

@Chris, I take another position. Photographers and crowd sourcing photography does not compete but rather complements, if given the right tools, the documenting of experience. Not to reveal too much about myself or the work, it isn't that photographers can capture better moments due to their training and specialization (which of course they can), it is that if we ask crowd-source photography to live up to the work of professional documentation we devalue both the photographer's labour and the activity of crowd sourcing. Our app provides tools that specifically to realize this value. When you see the feature we will provide, it will make sense and app will offer itself as a tool to enjoy a different experience.


The future of wedding photography will appear sometime around Q4, pre-launch, early Q4, launch late Q4. ;)

I shouldn't really post any more, so i'll end this with this: others, pepper your angus.
More, Mongo, More! / February 16, 2014 at 06:49 pm
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Longer, Mongo, MORE WORDS!
mere pawn replying to a comment from More, Mongo, More! / February 16, 2014 at 07:06 pm
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Mongo is a mere pawn in the game.
SammyBrown / February 16, 2014 at 07:52 pm
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Mongo is trying to be the shot caller when Mongo ain't got no product in the market. All talk no action. Mango when you have a product in the app store and have a minimum of 100,000 downloads please come back, until then your just another intern that thinks theyre going to make a fortune off a .99 download.

Donald / February 16, 2014 at 07:55 pm
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If Mongo was legit we'd at least have been given a real company name or a URL to exsisting and previous projects until then its just gossip and rumors.
Tim / February 16, 2014 at 08:01 pm
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Ha Ha Ha Mongo. A lot of defence but not a lot of offense. If Mongo was real they'd respect an NDA and not be leaking info about the project OR we'd be hearing real exciting facts about the project. Instead were hearing about Q4. WOW do you know how many apps will be launched in Q4 that will be new and exciting and will trump you. Good night Mongrel, I wouldn't invest any more time or family money into your nonsense.
Kev / February 16, 2014 at 08:04 pm
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Everybody ease off!! Mongo took app development at Number College and is set to take the world over. Steve Jobs is lucky he died before Mongo hit the scene...
Igby / February 16, 2014 at 08:27 pm
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Nobody go out for dinner. I'm opening an Italian Spaghetti house on King St W in Q4. Worth the wait to see the space I'm working in.
Gus / February 16, 2014 at 08:34 pm
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Mongo Mongo you can think and preach whatever you want BUT you have no live app in this space. The fact that its taking you a year to launch in a dynamic ever changing market shows you'll be a yea behind by the time you launch if you ever do
DebbieG / February 16, 2014 at 08:38 pm
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The fact that Mongo has to explain it in such detail to laymen's or the average users that have no knowledge of this "space" shows its destined to fail. Are you gonna take the shots and use the app for me as well?
Frank / February 16, 2014 at 08:44 pm
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Ok Mongo used the terms retard and pull your pantied down and take a shit. Clearly not what the rest of us would consider a business leader in any space. Can you imagine if Jobs, Zuckerberg or Blackberry openly posted/commented using those terms, they'd be up for a serious apology. You want people to spend cash or use your product treat them with respect don't redicule them. #GiantFail
Tamara / February 16, 2014 at 08:46 pm
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Bliis is great. Used it for our wedding was simple enough to use, and wasn't too feature heavy to confuse it for the teens or the seniors!
Mongo play da bongo? / February 16, 2014 at 10:30 pm
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Need a bongo, mongo?
Wow replying to a comment from Mongo / February 16, 2014 at 11:46 pm
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You really need to learn when to shut up...
Mongo / February 17, 2014 at 01:14 am
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LOL I went out for sunday night drinks and the chorus as welcomed Mongo with this. Bliiss is threatened. @SammyBrown reporting in at 7:52, @Donald reporting in at 7:55, @Tim at 8:01, @Kev at 8:04. Is this Bliiss army? @Igby at 8:27, @Gus at 8:34, @DebbieG at 8:38, @Frank at 8:44, @Tamara at 8:46, u guys the 'second wave'?

The only non-bliiss army people on here is the fucker who ridicule me for my long responses, and the other dude who asked if I needed some bongos and wow who thinks I need to shut up (I am not violating any NDA). Mongo does need some bongos (mongo prefers butt bongos), after all he is just a pawn in the game. But not having bongos to bang isn't gonna stop mongo, so here goes nothing.

@SammyBrown, double standard much? Bliiss has less than 500 installs from the google play store. I suspect Bliiss will have to start engaging in some expensive ppc/per install advertisement which they will engage to capture the weddings that will happen for the summer. They will be the ones who probably will pay 0.99 cents per install. But you are right, Mongo is no shot-caller, just another pawn in the game ;)

@Donald I hope folks thinks it is just gossip and rumours. I mean, how inexpensive and quick would it be to develop a phonegap app on aws that does the same thing?

@Tim, the NDA is in place and I am not articulating, speculating or makes references to any aspect of the app.

@Frank, Zuckerberg spoke about fucking people in the ear (or fucking them in a year), Jobs talked about going nuclear on google. Blackberry is dead. I think consumers like companies that are competitive and want to bring them the best they can muster, and I am sure those CEOs will do their best to achieve that, which is what matters.

@Kev, try Devry institute bro, number one in deh hood. Seriously, this category is not going to take over the world and you know it. It isn't a category thats valuable, per say, as much as its the space has potential for disruption. The competition in this category isn't apple or Steve jobs, so much for hyperbole dawg.

@DebbieG, space is a technical concept that pertains to those on the development/business side. It isn't a concept necessary for the consumer. It is meant to speak of the space where activity unfolds. I guess you haven't really done ur homework.

@Igby, what happen if they go out for dinner, and when Q4 comes around, they find your restaurant to be excellent, and because every other restaurant wasn't up to par they decided to eat from you thereafter exclusively. As a Devry Graduated, I know that you shouldn't base your hyperbole on premises easily contested, dawg.

@Gus, Apps do not need to be released asap. MVP only goes so far, and from the looks of bliiss it is functionally very much a MVP (single category in a space with existing competitors, easily challenged). Why wait for Q4? Well because the people in this space will spend money to reach out to the brides and grooms, and what not, bringing awareness of the category to communicate by making their vp as differentiable from other. They will probably do this before/around summer to capture weddings this year. What we gotta do in Q4 is launch a marketing campaign that differentiate us in the same channels bliiss used/developed and use our insights to compete on value-adding features.

Also, to reiterate what I stated from my previous comment: unlike social networks, there is no benefit or lock-in that comes from having a good/decent size of first adopters (you aren't sharing with the 'network', you are sharing with a list you invite that you hope can take the photos away). The best app in this category would allow and facilitate data portability.

None of this would violate any NDA because it pretty much states what is common sense and responds to specifics of bliiss. Articulating it should be like kicking the hornet's nest, with a shotgun shell a mile a way of course (gotta be safe), and then spraying the space with pyrethrum.

Happy family day yall, I'm going to watch some shows. Mongo is expecting that third, fourth or even perhaps fifth wave of mongo-slappers will appear. Mongo is hoping on it. Also Mongo didn't proof read this.

p.s, if we fail we are gonna gpl everything (backend included), so good news for all.
Mongo replying to a comment from Wow / February 17, 2014 at 01:16 am
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@Wow, can you teach Mongo when?

Also Mongo should have proof read it. *as = has.
Mongo goes Congo / February 17, 2014 at 08:24 am
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Bye Mongo!
John replying to a comment from Mongo / February 17, 2014 at 08:43 am
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Mongo, as the owner of Bliiss, I can assure you that the replies to your post are from the general public, not Bliiss "armies". I wish you great fortune as you see your vision to reality. The last mile is often the hardest!
Haim / February 17, 2014 at 08:49 am
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Yes Mongo Bliis may have less than 500 downloads on Android BUT you have none zero zilch. Bliis is out performing you already. Keep talking keep talking
Bliiss replying to a comment from R-b & Sandro F--d / February 17, 2014 at 08:54 am
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Casa Loma is one of the most picture-perfect spots in Toronto — perfect for Bliiss! You should consider creating Bliiss Zones! Check it out: https://twitter.com/sharethebliiss/statuses/435411326966312961.
Bliiss replying to a comment from Tamara / February 17, 2014 at 08:58 am
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Glad you liked it Tamara and thanks for including us at your wedding!
Mongo / February 17, 2014 at 11:28 am
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@John, why is the commenting pattern so weird if you aren't directing commenting traffic? The time intervals is so short and consistent that there is a the pattern which has repeat itself over again, and had repeated itself even now after you commented. You had a train going on after your reply: @John at 8:43am, @Haim at 8:49, @Bliiss at 8:54, @Bliiss at 8:58. They all have 5 to 4 minute intervals. That's really really suspicious bro. Also, uh, yeah, good luck to you too ;) If you ever need better marketing support, abandon 70 main street.

@Haim 500 downloads on android is pretty low, and according to my research the iOS app was released around the start of the summer. I'm thinking Bliiss has failed to capture 2013 wedding season, these are all great things for my work. We can even actually afford to wait for a release on Q1 of 2015 because weddings are planned. I'm starting to believe from my interactions with the Bliiss sock puppets that we have a lot more insight about this space than bliiss, but believing too strongly in this is hubris... whatever.

@Mongo goes Congo: I have a family get together and I'm planning to drink some more later today (perhaps catch a film too). SO yes, Mongo is probably gonna go bye forever because I'm bored and I think I made the necessary impression across. Also don't be racist, be anything but a racist ok?

final words: bliiss team, I am not sure what is your relationship with 70 main street, maybe you are an internal team trying to expand their business, maybe you just hired them or maybe you are in a partnership of some sorts (if this app fails to gain traction, it will look bad for 70 main street). What ever the case may be, you have a runway, you took off on 2013Q1. See u in Q4, and also pepper your angus and prepare for a dry rub ;)

John replying to a comment from Mongo / February 17, 2014 at 12:23 pm
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Mongo, you're obviously trying to be combative. While I don't understand or appreciate your false accusations and offensive remarks, I am glad that you've had your final words. Good luck with your Q4 launch.
Mongo's Fave Racist / February 17, 2014 at 01:19 pm
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Mongo play bongo in Congo...at the races...while drunk. I'm a poet and I didn't even know it...and my feet show it. Who am I, Mongo the Mongolian?
Will Lam / February 17, 2014 at 02:08 pm
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Mongo who are you? Why don't you come out on record instead of hiding behind your handle? STFU and ship your goddamn product before you slander others efforts. Everyone can learn from each other. It isn't a zero sum game. Who knows? With their time to market before you, they may very well learn and decide to move onto another market if things don't work out and you're still trying to ship your app in Q4. Be humble and just execute.
Will Lam / February 17, 2014 at 02:11 pm
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And I wish John and the folks at Bliiss the best of luck! Cheers

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