NEW YORK (Reuters.com) - Following his 200-guest wedding in Tuscany and two-week honeymoon to Egypt, Tejpaul Bhatia's inbox was bombarded with photo attachments and links to pictures from his special day. Frustration mounted as he faced the onerous task of organizing all of these images.
Bhatia, who was working on a video search engine at the time, approached his engineering team with the idea of being able to get every picture into one place within 30 seconds or less. "The CTO and I knew right then we had something extremely powerful," says Bhatia.
Inspired by his own wedding, Bhatia launched Kaptur.com, a website that provides users with a powerful search engine for finding photos from a personal event. "Kaptur is a website that brings together photos, videos, and status updates from any event, from across the web. It seamlessly pulls everything together and puts it into one place so you can view it as a single, collective memory," says Bhatia, who currently serves as the company's president.
Kaptur.com allows the user to create an album to add photos or videos from social networking sites such as Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and Vimeo. Users log in through their Facebook account to choose friends who were at a particular event on a specific day, and the technology pulls in all related media. Kaptur downloads the highest possible resolution of each picture and when exported to iPhoto, the pictures can be synced with the iPhone and iPad.
"Within Kaptur, you can see everyone's pictures in one place; organized, time synchronized and you have the ability to move them all as if they were one album," says Bhatia, who has thousands of his wedding photos downloaded onto his iPhone.
The New York-based startup launched on New Year's Eve 2011, while working with Getmarried.com to capture and recreate "the largest wedding ever" in Times Square. The company's focus on weddings was established from that day forward.
"There are roughly 2.3 million weddings in the U.S. each year. Our goal is to get a piece of that market," he says.
Kaptur's target demographic is newly-wed couples with an emphasis on brides. Says Bhatia: "Women tend to spend more time customizing the capture of their wedding and sharing it with more people -- and ultimately put out the best face for our product to their friends. "Through Facebook alone we see brides, within 30 seconds or so, finding 2000-3000 pictures of their wedding on average," he says. Kaptur.com recently partnered with pop star Beyonce's record label, inviting people to use Kaptur to create a slideshow of their wedding photos while using her music as the soundtrack.
"Within the first couple minutes (of Beyonce posting an invitation to fans) there were 35,000-40,000 people on our site," says Bhatia. He admits this brand alliance is likely a contributing factor of Kaptur signing up 600-1000 new users each day. In its first year, Kaptur has seen 85,000 people register with their site through Facebook.
Kaptur has raised $1.3 million so far, with a significant investment of $550,000 from Archie Cox, former chairman of Barclays Americas. Cox now sits on the board and advises Kaptur, keeping them focused on the wedding vertical.
According to WeddingBusinessMarketing.com, the wedding industry is an $86-billion-a-year business. In a 2011 study, Brides Magazine reported the average wedding costs $26,501 and the average number of guests is 152. Besides the reception, one of the highest costs is photography/videography at an average of $3,367.
"We find we have a clear opportunity to provide a very valuable product to our target market, and create a brand in a leadership position in the wedding vertical," says Bhatia, who has built a team of 11 employees.
"Our investors are really happy. We're on track to hit our numbers. We're signing up so many people every day, it's a given that usage will get up there. We just have to figure out how to grow it, sustain it and monetize it," says Bhatia, adding they've done work with select brands to focus targeted, location-based ads toward users.
Kaptur has also generated money from customized thank-you cards, printed pictures and photo albums and is expected to launch a "single click" functionality, where the technology suggests Facebook friends who may have been at the wedding. "It's ridiculously accurate," says Bhatia.
"The vision for Kaptur is to capture every memory. We believe that memories are being captured every day, every moment, from multiple angles. If we can capture weddings, it's the perfect place to start the life cycle."