Pictual: Finally an app that makes texting less boring

Being the diligent investigative journalists that we are here at AndesBeat, we spent hours doing independent research for today’ s post about Chile’s up-and-coming picture messaging app, Pictual.

…By “independent research” I mean: I couldn’t tear myself away from my desk where I spent an hour inserting every phrase that crossed my mind into the app to see what groovy graphics resulted. Below I bequeath you with the fruits of my investigative research for your viewing pleasure.

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Suffice to say, this free app (available here in the iTunes store) is pretty cool. To celebrate Women’s History Month this March, AndesBeat is covering some of Latin America’s most up-and-coming women pioneers in the start-up world. We’re kicking off the month with Isidora Valdés, the design guru behind the Pictual app, who spoke with AndesBeat about the magic behind my new favorite albeit addictive addition to the Apple Store.

What is Pictual?

Pictual is an intelligent picture-messaging app that uses “design magic” to transform your words into pictures that encapsulate your mood, personality, and emotion. Pictual is full of hundreds of high-quality visual designs containing beautiful typography, complex special effects, and dynamic layouts. Within a simple, easy-to-use app, Pictual democratizes creativity. See for yourself:

What led you to create Pictual?

Chintan Intwala, the founder of Pictual, worked at Adobe Photoshop for over 7 years. While working there he realized the need for easy-to-use content-creation tools that let people unlock their latent creativity. My husband introduced me to Chintan, both of whom are classmates at MIT Sloan; I fell in love with the idea for the app and became the head of design. With the perfect recipe for business, software development and design, Pictual came to life!

We are a bootstrapped startup. We believe in lean startup methodology and in order to mitigate our risks and iterate quickly, we developed the app and launched it with our own resources. Now that we have launched, we are ready to raise some funding in order to make the business grow.

How many Pictual users are out there?

We launched our first version of the app quite recently – on February 10, 2014. In our first week we had 3,000 users (downloads). 34% of all downloads are from the US, 34% from Latin America. Downloads are only one metric! We’ve also had more than 6,000 Pictual images shared worldwide within just one week from launch.

What are your most recent accomplishments? 

On our 4th day live in the Apple Store we reached the number-8 spot in our category (photo&video) in Chile, and ranked number-21 in India. We were also featured on Trend Hunter three days after our launch.

How many designs for the app do you create on a weekly/monthly basis? What is the design process like?

Unfortunately I can’t talk about that as it’s part of the “Pictual Magic”, at least for now… but what I can tell you is that we plan to invite designers from all around the world to contribute their work! Pictual will provide unique features, capabilities and value proposition necessary to excite designers to join this visual messaging revolution.

I find it amazing that the app can understand both Spanish and English text. How does the text analysis work within the app?

Again, I can’t say a word about this, that’s why we talk about “Pictual Magic” ;) That, along with some other elements, give us the competitive edge. In addition to supporting Spanish and English we are currently looking into supporting other languages within the app in the future.

On that topic, can you tell us more about your future plans? How do you plan to monetize?

Well, we are re-starting conversations with some prospects (investors and partnerships). For now our focus is to get more users, obtain a higher level of engagement with the product and make our database of content grow. We plan to release a new version in the next months with minor changes to make the experience even better and hopefully release an Android version
too. When it comes down to monetizing the app, there are different ways to go, although I can’t go into specific details. App sales are an option, as well as generating premium content. We could release a pro-version and charge for it, run ads within the app, or get paid for including specific content.

Who comprises the Pictual team?

We are a 2-person team.

On the one hand, we have Chintan Intwala, whose background is in software development, UI design, and business. He holds a BS in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from UC Berkeley. Chintan is currently an MBA candidate at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Prior to Sloan, he worked at Adobe Photoshop for over 7 years where he conceptualized and
developed solutions for Photoshop and filed 24 patents.

On the other hand, there is me – Isidora Valdés Rojic. I studied Integral Design at Pontificia Universidad Católica in Chile and have a Minor in Business Management form the Business School at Universidad de Chile. My focus is on graphic design, UX, and marketing. I’m an entrepreneur by nature, after working as a graphic designer for a design agency in Chile,
where I mastered the principles of graphic design and communications. I was hired by the Innovation Club of Chile as their Business Development Manager, where I created new products and services, oversaw their corporate branding, developed their online community, and established an online presence through social media, design, and marketing initiatives. I also
have my own branding, marketing, and web design studio called Goose.

Thanks for your insights, Isidora!

Editorial summary: In a mobile environment saturated with text messaging and photo-editing apps, Pictual presents us with a fresh alternative by creatively combining the two. Pictual is an intuitive, fun app that has encountered considerable international success after a mere two weeks in the Apple Store. We look forward to what Chintan and Isidora have up their sleeves – and will cross our fingers that they roll out an Android version soon (wink, wink)!

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