Blog

February 25, 2016
Northeastern Startup Blurr 1 of 8 to Pitch at SXSW

Northeastern University students Dan Arvidsson, Dan Korman, and Sam Marley will pitch their innovative photo-sharing app Blurr at SXSW as part of the event’s final round of its Student Startup Madness Tournament.

Have you ever thought about all of the pictures you’re in that have been taken at parties, company events, and weddings that you haven’t even seen? Is there a picture of you out there busting out your very best sprinkler at a party that you never got the chance to set as your profile picture?

Northeastern students Dan Arvidsson, Dan Korman, and Sam Marley are solving the problem of undiscovered photos and want to make sure you never miss a memory again with their innovative photo-sharing app Blurr. Here’s how it works: when you walk into an event, you can open Blurr and press "Start Blurr." Then, you select "close" (200 meters) or "closer" (100 meters), which acts as your geo-fenced radius. From there, every picture you take through Blurr (which automatically saves to your camera roll) or anyone else within your radius automatically populates into a communal photo feed.

While other popular photo sharing platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, require you to select a geotag to group photos based on location, Blurr does the heavy lifting of culminating all photos within your radius into a single feed. From there, users can view and download their favorites. When you choose to end the session or leave the Blurr radius (for example, leaving a concert), you have 24 hours to view the shared photos and download them as if they were your own.

From Teammates to Co-Founders

For Arvidsson, Korman, and Marley, working together comes naturally: not only do they all play on Northeastern’s Varsity Soccer team, but they also live together.

“Before we were co-founders, we were friends,” Arvidsson says. “I think that cohesion is what helped us form such a great co-founder relationship.”

To take Blurr to the next level, the dynamic trio decided to enter the Student Startup Madness (SSM) Tournament, a national tournament-style competition for top collegiate entrepreneurs to pitch their ventures. SSM is the only nationwide collegiate tournament focused specifically on digital media startups, giving students the opportunity to attract supporters, investors, and generate buzz about their startup. The SSM Tournament is a bracket-style competition, with each round getting progressively more competitive. The first two rounds are held online and conducted by Gust.com, a global SaaS funding platform for early-stage ventures. From there, the top 64 startups are selected to enter the preliminary round.

“One of the primary challenges while progressing throughout the competition was to see how much support we could get from both our school and community,” said Marley. “Northeastern’s campus is such a hub for entrepreneurship, so we got a lot of support from our peers as well as from IDEA [Northeastern University’s Venture Accelerator].”

Blurr soared through the preliminary round, presumably a result of their passion and impressive PR bootstrapping through social media. Once the co-founders entered the Final 32, they were challenged to answer product-related questions and analyze their target market.

“It was a lot more in-depth than previous rounds,” Korman explained. “We think we were different because of our passion for our company. We also stripped the product down to such a bare minimum to solve one specific problem, and the simplicity of it really resonates with people.”

As the brackets became shorter, Blurr continued progressing through the tournament, until they reached the final round. Blurr, along with seven other student-run startups, make up the final “Entrepreneurial Eight,” which will travel to SXSW in March to pitch their businesses. The eight venture teams will pitch to a seasoned panel of judges for a chance to win resources, cash, and bragging rights for their startup. Blurr is the only Boston-based startup in the final round of the competition.

The Blurr team is excited not only at the prospect of winning it all, but also to use SXSW as an opportunity for Blurr to gain additional exposure.

“We have a few tricks up our sleeves and are beyond excited to have the chance to go to SXSW,” Arvidsson said.

To learn more about Blurr and be the first to know when it launches, visit yourblurr.com.


Sarah Urbonas is a student at Northeastern University and a contributor for VentureFizz. Follow her on: Twitter @SUrbonas