Parrots and the rainy days at Imagga

Parrot visiting Imagga's office

It’s summer like no other. Weather has been crazy for the last couple of months. Sofia fills like it’s hidden somewhere in the rainforest. It’s happening over and over again – late afternoon showers, couple of times with hail.

Some people say rainy days are good for a day off with a nice book. Well, at Imagga we do that, but with our Macbooks (and several Windows machines). Weather can be inspiring, even for startups – to learn and work harder. Specially when you have two roof windows at your office. And parrots pay a special visit!

Tinder, Tigers, and… Tagging

It’s sometimes striking how fast some crazy ideas go viral nowadays… and the tiger selfies on Tinder :) make no exception, going far enough to escalate to the attention of the New York State Assembly.

Funny (or not), taking selfies with tigers, and eventually using them as profile pictures, is not allowed in NY any more, unless you want to pay the $500 fine for a few seconds of glory.

Being an image recognition company, especially focused on auto-tagging, it seems to us like a piece of cake to detect if there is a tiger on the image! Here is an example:

 

Tinder, Tigers, Tagging

Tinder, tigers, and tagging

You can see the sample test here and upload/paste a tiger selfie (not yours of course) to try it out.

And this could be used via API access by Tinder to warn users… or by the state assembly to detect them ;)

Just another (weird) validation how widespread image recognition could be nowadays… In any types of apps and use-cases, as images are becoming the ultimate way to communicate and express ourselves so easily, thanks to the cameras in our pockets.

Have an awesome idea that would greatly benefit from automated image tagging? Just sign up for free here and give our auto-tagging API a try.

Imagga @ LDV Vision Summit

Imagga @ LDV Vision Summit in NCY
The LDV Vision Summit brought  together world’s top imaging technologists, visionaries and investors to share and shape the future of image and video recognition technologies.

Organized by Evan Nisselson, LDV Capital the summit was held in NYC to showcase how imaging and video technologies are empowering and disrupting the our day to day life and global businesses.

Visual web is upon us. Images and video are starting to dominate all web channels we are collecting data and impressions from. It’s not just the digital cameras and smart phones, but also drones equipped with cameras that will basically record and archive important moments.  This will  eventually enable us to take part in moments, conversations and event we couldn’t attend or be physically present.

The advance in GPU power, machine learning algorithms, well labeled data and some magical tricks implemented by various researchers and startups working on image recognition will eventually create new ways of exploring the visual web  - collection of personal and common image and video experiences.

It was exciting to see Georgi presenting Imagga on stage of LDV Vision Summit as one of thoroughly selected startups developing image recognition products and services. On stage were as well  Eugenio from  teradeep,  Alex from visiosafe  and Chris from TAG Optics. Quite good company. Some of the exciting lectures at the event were Camers – Video, Still & Wearable with panelists Martin Kallstrom from Narrative and Flo Meissner from EyeEm. The panel on Recent Progress in Computer Vision using Deep Learning with Rob Fergus from Facebook artificial intelligence lab was also quite interesting as it tackled the technology challenges we are facing with Imagga’s image recognition technologies. The Future of Image Recognition discussion session with Serge Belongie from Cornell NYC Tech,  Gary Bradski from Magic Leap and Moshe Bercovich, Shutterfly set the trends for the next couple of years and was followed Trends in Visual Communications Technology from the investor’s perspective with the awesome Om Malik from  True Ventures and Evan Nisselson.

Imagga’s automated tagging technology is what we consider groundbreaking and with huge potential to contribute to the change we perceive image  content in the near feature. According to KPCB Internet Trends 2014 report over 1.8 billion photos are uploaded and shared on a daily basis. Most of image date is not properly keyworded or not tagged at all. Memories are stored in archives, in the best case somewhere in the cloud. Exploring this visual records of our lives, interactions, personal encounters and important moments will be of key importance in the years to come. Using machine learning and super smart image analysis, technologies like our tagging API will be able to bring back the meaning to important moments, shorten the time we dig for them, automatically highlight the best quality content and feature significant events.

Beside the imaging summit, being in NYC is always exciting, especially for image intensive business like Imagga’s. So many of our current customers are headquartered in NYC, so couple of extra days were well spent on biz dev meetings. Thanks to the summit we’ve got quite valuable new prospects and couple of partners.

 

Free consultancy hours with the image organization pros

Office Hacking @ Imagga

We are happy to announce a new initiative starting effectively tomorrow – free office hours every Friday form 3 to 5 PM GMT, where we’ll consult image-intensive companies and startups on how to better handle, organize or monetize huge amounts of photos.

It’s not limited to the search, cropping and categorization solutions of Imagga. We are here to help and will be completely open and honest on what solutions (Imagga’s, or others’) may work best for you.

If you’ve already realized you have problems or missed opportunities with image content, make sure to reserve a slot! We have a total of four 30 minutes slots for Skype call, Google hangout or in person meeting in our office every Friday, allocating them on a first come first served basis!

Ping us via email api (at) imagga (dot) com or via tweet to @imagga by Friday morning GMT every week and we’ll be happy to chat!

Photo Hack Day Japan – Imagga Prize

Photo Hack Day Japan

It’s exciting to take part in photo hackatons. We’ve been to several during 2013 – Photo Hack Day Berlin, Photo Hack Day Melno Park, SeedHack in London to name a few. This time we were not present physically but that did not prevent people from using Imagga APIs.

Over 120 hackers and supporters gathered on Feb 22-23rd at Mixi’s office for an awesome hacking experience. Sponsors of the event were Mixi, Shutterstock, gettyimages, 500px, Leap Motion, Amazon, Mashup9, Recruit, EyeEm, Pux, XLoudia, Sendgrid, Zenrin, FlashFoto and Adobe and we at Imagga are quite happy to be listed among this great innovative companies.

As any serious hackathon it all starts with opening remarks of the organizers and API partners presentations just to be followed by the creative chaos of team formation, idea generation and hacking over lots of fried rice, shushi (it’s Japan after all) but also coffee, tea and beer. It’s great fun and we were a bit jealous we’re not physically present.

Photo Hack Day Japan work

23 teams have been formed and were judged based on originality of the idea, overall value of the application and technical achievement. The tree overall winners of the hackathon are:

  • Back to the Future – visual learning app that allows you to “walk through time” via an interactive interface.

  • Before the filter – Android app that teaches would-be photographers the fundamentals of Photography

  • VOCA Getty – innovative photo dictionary app that uses images sourced from Getty Images to help users learn a language visually. The team used Imagga APIs.

We were excited that 3 teams actually activated, reviewed and used Imagga APIs during the event.

photo tagging

Our special $2299 in credits prize goes to  Imagic Workbench, a smart keywording tool which employs object recognition technologies to automatically keyword your photos. Imagic Workbench is a project of TT and Nego and we really hope they will follow up and make an awesome product for image tagging.

Stay tuned for our next hackathon participation, it’s fun!

Interested to try our auto-categorizatiom? – signup for a free account at our Playground

What we are after in 2014 – democratizing machine learning as a service and applying it in practice

2013 was such an exciting year for us! We partnered multiple photo-related hackathons (Seedhack 3Startup Weekend Mobile Sofia and Photo Hack Day Menlo ParkPhoto Hack Day BerlinSeedhack 4; plus one more coming in a less than two weeks – Photo Hack Day Tokyo!) and created a lot of friends there.

We also closed our seed round from LAUNCHub and several angel investors, extended our team with two great software engineers, visited several leading industry and technology conferences (Tech Crunch Disrupt BerlinWeb Summit DublinMicroStock Expo BerlinleWeb Paris), and made a major leap in our core technology:

Auto-categorization of images for different use-cases

Auto-categorization of images for different use-cases

We on-boarded new customers and partnered with two great image processing and management services – Blitline and Cloudinary that now offer our smart cropping as part of their feature sets (the latter, still in private beta).

Now 2014 has already come, and it’s time to roll out several awesome products, enabled by our recent technology advancements. There is a huge hype around A.I. and machine learning these days. But for us this isn’t just a hype… it’s what we’ve been working on hard in the last year. And we want to bring this to the people (and start-ups, and companies), empowering them to take advantage of machine learning for better understanding and organization of their imagery in the easiest possible way.

We are aiming to keep the lean/iterative approach so we’ll definitely rely on your active feedback, ideas, and inclusion in the process. Happy to share that we already have multiple successful pilots with customers taking advantage of our machine-learning-based auto-categorization, as in the example image above, and some more customers in the pipeline. Now it’s your turn! If you are interested in auto-categorization and you think it can help your image-centric businesses or projects (and believe me, it will help them for sure) give a try to our auto-categorization “playground”.

Mobile is also going to be bigger and bigger and this is something we are definitely interested in as the development of our smart photo organization app Sliki proves. Sliki was recently selected to join the AppCampus programme so we’ll release it on Windows Phone first (which is a great platform for development BTW), but we also conduct some closed tests on Android. Sign up here and we’ll keep you updated on how Sliki goes. Funny enough, the (hardware-enabled) future seems bright even for complex computer vision on mobile as explained in this video.

All in all, It’s a really exciting journey and you are more than welcome to join it as an advisor, investor, employee, partner, customer or just a friend :)

Imagga @ Photo Hack Day Japan

Photo Hack Day Japan

Imagga continues to take part in hackathons. It’s in our DNA and it’s one of the best ways to show support for the photo hacking communities all over the world. This time Photo Hack Day 5 hackathon will take place far far away of where we are. Japan is exciting place for tech events not only for the level of tech penetration but also for the thriving creative community engaged in visual arts.

Thanks to our friends from Aviary we will be partnering Photo Hack Day, that will take place on February 21-23 at Mixi Headquarters in Tokyo. Hackers will be able to play with Imagga API’s and specially with the recently announced Imagga Auto-categorization API.

It’s too bad we will not be able to make it in person for the great event, that’s why we produced short video that describes what we do and how exciting Imagga APIs are.

Here are some ideas on how Imagga APIs can be used:

  • Our brand new auto-categorization API can be used for personal photo sorting. But you can also train your own categorizer to recognize particular types of objects or scenes or even moods depending on the use-case. Let say you want to build a Pinterest like site but for cool products, manually crafted locally. In most of the cases you will be able to scrap the photos from personal blogs, artist online shops but they might not be well structured and organized. You can train the with selected product categories our APIs and then all photos will be automatically recognized and placed in the relevant category.
  • you can create some nice looking retrospective photo album with the photos smartly cropped, something like a better version of the Facebook Look Back video, but without bodies and faces cut in half
  • what is your favorite color app that can detect your favorite colors from the clothes that you wear or things you posses
  • detecting mood by color, or suggesting music by color apps

We will award $2 300 in Imagga API usage for the best use of our APIs and $400 in API usage for all teams who make use of them during the hackathon.

You might also have great ideas about possible implementation of Imagga APIs. Let us know about your idea and we will be helping out with any technical challenges you might have.

The Ingredients of Startup Success

Long-term goals

Recently Georgi wrote a post on startup math and shared some really valuable insights on the power of entrepreneurial mind. You can read his original post in his blog, but here, I want to summarize and elaborate a bit more on the lessons learned.

You can be better in doing business and research than bigger companies

The common perception is that if a well established, resourceful company is tackling a problem, a startup can’t really outperform and thus needs to pivot.

To be able to do that startupers need to be really dedicated. Startup business is like sports. There are people that can coach you, but you need to do the exercises, you need to get early in the morning and run, eat healthy, rest enough so you have the power to perform.

Your hobby is your startup and your spare time is actually filled with activities connected to your project. There’s nobody that will do that research for you, or will summarize these scientific papers so you can hack straight away. You need to find ways and time to fill in the blanks. Grit is required to do so. A recent study shows that people with grit are more likely to succeed. It’s not your IQ, nor social intelligence or physical health. Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals, sticking with what you want to achieve, working on it 24/7 until you see if fulfilled. Grit is not a week or a month of full commitment, it’s working really really hard to make the vision reality.

Pareto in Full Power – 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes

Georgi puts it this way:

And this is one of the best and most romantic and revolutionary things about startups – you must be extremely resourceful! And Pareto is on your side here – with five times less resources you can still achieve 80% of the result, of course only if you are smart/intuitive/customer-oriented enough to figure out exactly which 20% to go after.

Startups need to focus on things that really matter, work on the MVP of their product, use the most effective marketing and sales channels to be able to put things together. It’s not so easy to find that winning 20% but it’s possible.

Every Hour Counts

Whatever you do, should be done with the presumption it will be helpful to advance your startup.  Yes, you need to sacrifice lots of fun activities – going out with friends, playing games, TV, etc. It’s like being on the war front. If you are not there on you post watching out, somebody will take over the land. That doesn’t mean you’ve become startup slave, chained to your startup, no pleasures whatsoever. Remember, what you drives you is your vision, your believe you changing the world, providing better product, service for the others. It’s like the first faze of love relationship – you want to spend every second with your beloved, you call him 3 AM in the morning just to tell her how much you love her.

Now, have some fun and go back to what you are supposed to do to see you startup blossoming. I promise, it will be worth it. 

Imagga @ leWeb 2013

Chris & Guy Kawasaki

leWeb is one of the biggest and oldest European event for entrepreneurship. It’s always been well attended by entrepreneurs from all over Europe and beyond. More than that, people the startupers admire – we read their books and blogs – are actually speakers at leWeb. And they keep coming every year. After Techcrunch Disrupt Belin and Web Summit in Dublin, leWeb wasn’t in our program for this year, but Chris won a free ticket from Invest in France and that was a good sign we should attend.

It was exciting to be there and see the French way of doing events. It’s relaxed but at the same time quite exquisite. Techcrunch Disrupt has the hipster flavor of Berlin, Pioneers Festival enjoys the most luxurious venue being held in Hofburg Palace in Vienna, WebSummit pretends to be the biggest event in Europe, while leWeb is just French, and it’s French in a very good way – extremely good food all day long, comfy lounge zone to meet people and charge your devices, the best lineup of speakers ever.

Best events are not just what happens on stage, but also the networking. With parties every night leWeb offers lots of opportunities to meet people. Well, meeting investors was quite a challenge as they were kept in a VIP area just above our heads (a bit irritating to segregate and make it so visible even during parties ;-) ). Do not ask how we ended up there… friends ;-)

Need not to say we spent most of the time networking, not just during parties but during the day as well. Well, couple of the speakers were must listen as these guys are setting trends and always have so much insight on the whole ecosystem so we decided to better sit and listen.

One of these people we really enjoyed listening was Fred Wilson. He was invited to speak about what’s going to happen in the next ten years but instead he shared 3 big trends he’s interested investing in:

  • Transition from bureaucratic hierarchies to technology-driven networks. Think Twitter vs. classic newspapers, YouTube vs. cable tv, SoundCloud vs. traditional music labels. We are in the early stage of that trend, but it’s happening not just in media, but hotel reservations (AirBnB), creative (Kickstarter), learning (Codecademy, Duolingo)
  • Unbundling – deliver much more focused services vs. the old model of newspaper with business pages, culture, sports section. This is already happening in banking, education and entertainment.
  • Smartphones – people are more willing to sacrifice their laptops rather than smartphones if they need to choose one. With the phone you can do things you can’t with your laptop and there will be way more great applications to utilize mobile. Great examples are apps that are disrupting taxi service (Uber), payments (Square), dating (Tinder)

He stated he doesn’t look at technologies but in trends, that will have behavioural and social impact. Of course mobile, big data and machine learning are hot technologies but it’s not technology itself, but it’s practical implementation. Can’t agree more working on elaborate machine learning technology such as Imagga’s image auto-categorization.

You can watch Fred Wilson’s video here:

Another much expected talk was Guy Kawasaki’s – a legendary role model for the Bulgarian entrepreneurs. What a precious moment to have the chance to chat for a minute with Guy and get his best selling book The Art Of The Start signed by him.

Chris_Kathleen_Stephane_leWeb

leWeb was eye-opening experience. Lots of contacts to follow up, great time networking, inspiring speeches and memorable meetings with awesome people. Special thanks to Stefan from LAUNCHub for hosting us and being the perfect guide for cool places in Paris (experiencing Uber on his account was awesome ;-) )

Microstock Expo in Berlin 2013

Microstock Expo Berlin 2013

It’s our second visit to Microstock Expo – the best European event for stock photography. We visited the first year the conference was organized and all the lectures were extremely insightful.

Stock photography is slowly changing. Not only professional cameras are quite accessible for the masses but the rise of the smart phone photography gets even more people excited about the possibility to make money even with photos shot with not so good cameras as current mobile phone cameras are.

There were couple of lectures that were quite relevant to what we are up to currently in Imagga.

One of the most interesting topics during the conference was the keywording. What was striking for us that most of the people from the industry do not actually believe the keywording can be really automated. The human touch still plays significant role in determining the key words that best describe an image. It’s probably needless to day we totally believe there’s room for automation in the keywording. Obviously we have the difficult task to convince partners that we can really be of help with technology like automated tagging.

MIcrostock Expo Berlin

One of the most practical keynote speeches was done by Luis Alvares from Stock Performer, a platform for micro stock analysis. They’ve done quite extensive analysis of the words that sell well and once that are quite widespread but actually do not sell well at all.

Overall – great event with what of potential partners, so we are excited we were part of it.