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How about them Apples? Alum’s mobile app, photo-sharing game

Charles Svirk, a serial entrepreneur who started two companies while attending Northeastern’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business, knows a thing or two about capitalizing on opportunity. His latest venture, Photos to Photos, combines the fun of online picture sharing with a popular card game from his childhood.

Svirk said Photos to Photos—which was released on Sunday and is available on iPhone—puts a twist on the popular elements of two party games featuring cards: the rules of Apples to Apples and the humor of Cards Against Humanity.

“I’ve enjoyed playing these games while in college, but I always wondered why there were no mobile application versions of these popular games,” said Svirk, DMSB’13. “It was then that my business partner and I came up with the idea to combine these games with the popularity of photo sharing.”

Photos to Photos is a free, social game of photo comparisons that can be played with three to five people. Players are first given a prompt word, such as “scary” or “embarrassing.” Then, they select and submit a photo that best fits the adjective—either from their own smartphone’s photo gallery or from a stock image library provided by the game.

Each round, the players rotate so that one of them serves as the judge. The judge selects the winner each round, and the first player to take three rounds wins the game. Players earn virtual coins for winning and playing daily.

To make money, Svirk and his business partner Matthew Valich have partnered with MediaSpike, Inc., a company backed by Google Ventures that uses “native monetization” to place product advertisements in apps. Through MediaSpike, Inc., Photos to Photos will sell the felt of the game table for advertising, but Svirk and Valich said it won’t interfere with gameplay. As a comparison to professional sports, think of it like the advertisements seen on the playing field or on the players’ jerseys.

“The ads will never pop up on you, and you’re never going to accidentally click on an ad and be redirected outside of the app,” Svirk explained. “We’re thinking outside the box in terms of monetization, and are hoping users will appreciate our unobtrusive advertising.”

Photos to Photos has already received gap funding from IDEA, Northeastern’s student-run venture accelerator, and a seed investment from businessmen Alec E. Gores and Eric Harnish. Photos to Photos also attended IDEA’s Pitchathon last week.

To help generate pre-launch buzz, Svirk turned to another successful IDEA venture: PreApps, founded by Sean Casto, DMSB’13. PreApps connects mobile app developers and users to create better quality, more successful apps prior to release. As of this week, Photos to Photos was one of the highest rated featured apps on the PreApps platform.

Svirk said IDEA has provided invaluable resources and support to help get Photos to Photos on the path to success.

“The best thing that I noticed, as an entrepreneur, is that IDEA doesn’t want anything from you but to be your friend. It doesn’t take an equity stake, and there are no ulterior motives but to help you be successful,” Svirk said. “It was comforting to have IDEA, (Northeastern Center for Entrepreneurship co-director) Dan Gregory, the mentors, the board members, and the resource providers in my corner. I hope that one day we’re successful enough to give back to IDEA for all it’s helped us with.”

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