A Q&A with Riffsy co-founder and CEO David McIntosh. The San Francisco-based startup, which offers mobile apps that enable people to create and share animated GIFs, this week announced the completion of a $3.5 million Seed funding raise. Investors include Redpoint Ventures, Initial Capital and John Riccitiello. The company was founded earlier this year by McIntosh, Erick Hachenburg, and Frank Nawabi, and this is its first round of outside funding.
SUB: Please describe Riffsy and your primary innovation.
McIntosh: Riffsy is a mobile app company enabling people to find, create and seamlessly share animated GIFs. In September, we launched GIF Keyboard, which allows users to text, iMessage, tweet, and email millions of animated GIFs right from their keyboard. By tagging GIFs into categories, users can search millions of GIFs to find the one that perfectly expresses a feeling, emotion, or moment
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
McIntosh: There’s a massive market of people who have installed the emoji keyboard and use it regularly, and we saw that as an amazing opportunity for GIF Keyboard.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition, and what differentiates Riffsy from the competition?
McIntosh: The space is still new and developing. We see ourselves as much more than a keyboard app; we’re looking to build the self-expression network around motion.
SUB: You just announced that you’ve raised $3.5 million in Seed funding. Why was this a particularly good time to raise funding?
McIntosh: We were seeing rapid growth after launch with more than one million downloads in the first three weeks. With this funding, we can accelerate the fast organic growth we’ve already been seeing, and continue to drive more user adoption.
SUB: How do you plan to use the funds?
McIntosh: It will support growth of the product and build the self-expression network around motion.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Riffsy? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
McIntosh: Earlier this year, we launched Riffsy, which lets you create, customize, and discover animated GIFs. It grew into a very active community with millions of GIFs. At the iOS 8 announcement in June, we saw the opportunity to create a keyboard, and began developing the GIF Keyboard, which leveraged those millions of GIFs.
SUB: What were the first steps you took in establishing the company?
McIntosh: My co-founder Erick and I both came from the video space. We wanted to solve the problem of sharing video on mobile. We started with the Riffsy app, which created a community of people creating their own GIFs, customizing them, and discovering new ones. They would also share GIFs from the app when messaging and communicating with friends, but it was a longer, more involved process, so people shared about one-to-two GIFs a week.
When we saw we had the keyboard opportunity with iOS 8, we jumped on it. We released the GIF Keyboard, and now people share five-to-six GIFs a day.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story or meaning behind it?
McIntosh: We like that it sounded like ‘GIF’ but had a playful spin on it.
SUB: What have the most significant challenges been so far to building the company?
McIntosh: We’re still an early company, and we’ve been lucky to see a lot of organic growth and buzz early on. Thanks to the emoji keyboard, there’s a big market of people who know how to install a keyboard and are comfortable switching between keyboards on a regular basis.
SUB: How do you generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
McIntosh: We’re hyper-focused on growth at the moment. We have interest from brands, ad agencies, and content providers in partnerships and promotions, so that could be a lucrative source of revenue for us in the future. At the moment, we’re staying focused on gaining more market share.
SUB: What are your goals for Riffsy over the next year or so?
McIntosh: We’re hyper-focused on growth and gaining more market share.