Reviewing Picplum

With the move to Seattle I decided that Picplum.com was the perfect solution for keeping my dad, my grandmother and my wife’s mom in the loop with photos. While both my dad and her mom are on Facebook, my grandmom isn’t. And there’s something different about receiving physical photos in the mail, which is exactly what Picplum does.

Picplum is a service where we can send photos to their service from your smartphone or desktop and then on a regular schedule have those photos automatically sent out to a predefined list of people. The company is founded by Paul Stamatiou (Georgia Tech alumni) and Akshay Dodeja. They’re funded by Y Combinator (also funded Reddit, Justin.tv, Dropbox, and more) and are looking to turn the photo industry on its head.

I signed up far before I placed my first order with them. It was a service that I intended to use, but felt silly using for only two photos. I mean, it just feels weird. It’s insubstantial. At least, it feels that way to me. In a world where I get people’s random thoughts wirelessly on my phone. I can see videos of people eating their dinner, or watching tv, or I can open Skype and video chat with my friend in south-east Asia. In that world, two photos seems insignificant.

But to my grandmother, who lives in rural Georgia and who’s most exciting part of her week is a trip to see her doctor two towns over. Two photos from her grandson in Seattle, WA… that’s genuine excitement. That’s something she can show her neighbors. Something she and I can talk about when I call her. This isn’t a service for me, it’s a service for her.

This week I finally placed an order, sending out seven photos in the first batch. Five of me and Katie, one of our dogs, and one of the Seattle skyline.

The system is beautifully built and very intuitive. If you do end up having questions they have an on-screen chat service for customer service and when I asked my question I was talking to Akshay, one of the founders. The flow is quite simple once you setup your account, you tell it what email addresses it might expect photos from. In this way I set it up so that either I or Katie can email them photos and have them added to the system. Then I can log in on the computer to manage, either remove duplicate photos  or  upload photos from my PC.

PicPlum home screen

If you’ve recently moved away from family, or have a young one who is entering your life and will require lots of photos to be shared with family, then Picplum is a fantastic service. And when you realize that it’s a service for the recipients more than for yourself, it all makes perfect sense.

Some Ideas for Picplum

  • Notes. Allow notes to be written on back of photos, it might complicate the linear system but it would be invaluable to be able to write little notes such as postcards. “Sally at 3 months.”
  • Distribution lists. I have my core who I want to send photos to regularly, but the more people in their system then it’s easier for me to send photos through Picplum.
  • Pull from my social media. Integrate with Twitter and Facebook and Google+. Let me share a photo and in the tweet I type “#pp” signaling their service to pull the photo for my next batch.
  • Expand capabilities. Rather than be just a “push” platform, meaning that they send out batches. Setup a gallery which is friendly for families and less tech savvy people, making it dead simple for them to get printed photos on my dime. I’d set a spending limit per person or overall, a pre-approved amount per month.

Problems for Picplum

  • Where’s the pivot? As a photo platform there’s already a very competitive marketplace. How does this scale to a big business? I have to believe they’re building this and seeing where it leads them with the belief that they can pivot or respond based on the market response.
  • While an easy and direct interface, it’s still a service that my grandmother can’t use. It requires a certain level of technical savvy even with the linear process.

We’ll see where Picplum.com ends up going, but in the mean time I’ll enjoy using them and following their journey.

This post was unsolicited and is my own opinion, I receive no compensation for writing this. I did include my referral link in this post, so anyone who signs up and uses the company earns me future credit for sending out photos.