“Are we Blurring tonight?” That’s a question three Northeastern business students envision as the future of photo sharing.
Dan Arvidsson, Dan Korman, and Sam Marley, all DMSB’18, are the co-founders of Blurr, a photo-sharing app that connects people who are in the same place at the same time—whether it’s a sporting event, concert, party, or wedding. Blurr is free and available in the Apple App Store.
The burgeoning entrepreneurs developed the idea a year ago after throwing a party for a friend who was leaving for study abroad in Australia. The following morning, they realized they had taken very few photos of their friend at the party. Sure, they could’ve texted friends, asking them to send some of their photos along. But they began to think about how they could fill what they saw as a gap in the photo-sharing market.
“The unique thing about Blurr is that it’s a public photo-sharing platform, but in small pockets of space that are private,” Korman said. “No one has put that spin on it like we have.”
It’s fitting that these students launched a venture built upon sharing memories, given how much they have in common. All three were born overseas—Arvidsson in Brazil, Korman in Belgium, and Marley in the U.K—and after converging at Northeastern they became teammates on the men’s soccer team. They’ve taken courses together in the D’Amore-McKim School of Business and become business partners as well as roommates.
Now they’re collectively closing in on what could be Blurr’s biggest moment thus far. Their venture is one of eight finalists in Student Startup Madness, a nationwide tournament-style competition for college students’ digital media startups. On Tuesday, the finalists will pitch their ventures to a judging panel of entrepreneurs and investors at the South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas.
The Blurr team said it will be ready to make its four-minute pitch count. And the students intend to make the most of the rest of their SXSW experience by developing connections and building brand awareness.
The unique thing about Blurr is that it’s a public photo-sharing platform, but in small pockets of space that are private. No one has put that spin on it like we have.
— Dan Korman, DMSB’18
How Blurr works
When you arrive at an event, open the Blurr app and press “Start Blurr.” Then choose between one of two radii—“close” (200 meters) or “closer” (100 meters). From then on, every picture taken by you and others who are signed into Blurr gets cycled into a photo feed on your Blurr app. In fact, the app even collects images taken during the hour before you arrive. And your Blurr ends when you leave.
All these photos remain viewable and downloadable for 24 hours. The app sorts your photo feed three different ways: all of the photos, the photos taken by your Facebook friends, because you sign into Blurr via Facebook, or the photos you took yourself.
The Blurr experience, the co-founders said, is designed to make photo sharing a breeze and avoid your having to track down friends and family to ask for their pictures the next day. There are no groups to join, friends to add, things to “like.” You don’t even have to take any photos yourself. Just launch the Blurr app and let others do the heavy (smartphone) lifting.
“It’s very difficult in life to remember everything you do,” Arvidsson said, “and if you’re a college student, you’re making some of the best memories of your life. Our thing is that life is really just a blur—it’s a blur of pictures.”
Help along the way
The Blurr team said Northeastern’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has played a pivotal role in its growth. Blurr went through IDEA, the student-run venture accelerator, and received $10,000 in gap funding. IDEA also urged Blurr to gain user validation from beta testers, who coined the phrase “Blurring” to describe using the app.
Blurr also connected with Scout, the student-led design studio, which designed its brand and improved the user experience. Law students in the IP-CoLab, for their part, are providing Blurr with trademarking advice.
It’s very difficult in life to remember everything you do,” Arvidsson said, “and if you’re a college student, you’re making some of the best memories of your life. Our thing is that life is really just a blur—it’s a blur of pictures.”
— Dan Arvidsson, DMSB’18
The Blurr team sees its photo-sharing platform as a way to not only share memories, but also enhance the event experience.
“There are a lot of public content-sharing feeds where you can see people and places all over the world, like Periscope, which is an unbelievable idea,” Marley said. “But for us, with Blurr we wanted to bring it back home and make memories with the people around you and with you.”