toronto my shoebox startup

Get to know a startup: MyShoebox

I love taking pictures with my phone. Ask anyone who's eaten dinner with me recently; my appetizer, main, and dessert will definitely end up on Instagram, complete with a mouthwatering caption. But I'm not alone. The Executive VP of Smart Devices for Nokia recently cited the astonishing fact that 1.4 billion pictures are taken on mobile phones every single day, and Toronto startup MyShoebox is determined to help you store, organize, and backup every single one of your digital photos for free.

Launched to the public on October 30, the app might be considered a competitor for iCloud, or even a replacement for that trusty old backup hard drive. But what's unique about MyShoebox is that the cloud-based app bridges the "digital device divide" since it can be used with Mac, Windows, iPhone, and Android.

The idea is the brainchild of two tech-savvy co-founders. Steve Cosman and Kalu Kalu were still in high school when they met 10 years ago at Shad Valley, a nerdy summer camp where they were assigned as roommates. Both went on to study Software Engineering at the University of Waterloo, and both followed that up by working for tech heavyweights (Microsoft and RIM). Community Manager Anne Nolan explains why MyShoebox is one free app you'll want to adopt.

What's the inspiration behind MyShoebox?

With phones, cameras, computers, and tablets, our photo collections are getting more fragmented and we're left with very disjointed photo collections. We wanted to offer a simple way to unify your photo collection across your devices. By syncing your photos automatically, you are not only backing up your photos to protect against loss, but you are also ensuring that you can access them from wherever you are.

A lot of people already have a cloud backup feature on their phone or tablet. My iPhone has iCloud, for example. Why should someone like me be interested in MyShoebox?

First, a public service announcement: iCloud doesn't actually back up your photos unless you are paying for it! Every day we meet people who think their photos are "safe in iCloud." iCloud only stores the last 1,000 photos. We've heard from several people who thought their photos were safe in iCloud only to find out the truth the hard way when they lost a phone.

That aside, MyShoebox offers a few major benefits over the competitors. We're free. We have an unlimited free backup plan. We also work on almost any Windows, Mac, iOS or Android device.

How many photos are users uploading to MyShoebox?

Our users uploaded over 2.5 million photos in our first week. Each user uploads on average more than 3,000 photos. Instead of getting a few photos per user like Instagram and other sharing services, we're capturing entire photo collections that accumulate across different devices.

It seems like your team has put a lot of thought into the search feature of MyShoebox. How does it work?

MyShoebox extracts a lot of information from every photo, including the camera it was taken with, the location, and the time. We plan on adding image recognition features like face, place, and object recognition too.

With all this automatic tagging, we make it easy to find exactly the photo you are looking for. You can also search using intuitive questions like "find photos taken in the neighbourhood Queen Street West," and immediately find what you are looking for.

How do I know my photos will be kept safe?

We built privacy in from the start. Your photos are encrypted during transfer and storage. Only you can access your photos (unless you explicitly share them). MyShoebox uses AES-256 encryption to store your photos. It's the same encryption used by the National Security Agency for classified "Top Secret" information (seriously).

How will this free app make money for your company?

We offer a pro account for those that want to maintain the original resolution of their photos. Otherwise, after your free 30-day trial of the pro account your photos are stored at screen resolution (1024 pixels wide).

Since we just launched, 100% of our users are enjoying their free trials, but we look forward to our first stream of revenue at the end of the month.

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