Thursday Dec 26, 2013 by Dennis Keohane - Senior Writer, VentureFizz
When Aviv Gadot first demonstrates his app, Pixtr, to you, at first you are just amazed by what you are watching: pictures transforming right before your eyes, seemingly professional quality photoshopping automatically retouching someone's face. Next, you realize that Pixtr, a MassChallenge participant this year, is ripe to be acquired by Facebook or Twitter or even (especially) Tinder.
So how did Gadot come up with the idea for an app that automatically retouches faces in pictures? Here is one version of the founding story:
Gadot came up with the idea when his girlfriend reacted to a picture taken of her that she felt just wasn't that flattering. So Gadot, who originally hails from Isreal and came to Boston when he heard that MassChallenge offered a chance for office space and mentoring, joined with Yaron Recher and Avner Barr to create an app that fixes blemishes, discoloration, red-eye, and even whitens teeth and fixes face proportions, in pictures.
When I recently spoke with Gadot, he told me that the app was gaining more and more users (even as they implemented a small fee for downloading Pixtr), which is very excting for the small little startup. They have some pretty hefty backing so far, with Waze founder Uri Levine investing in the company when it was originally founded in Isreal. (Levine has also mentored Gadot and his team at Pixtr.)
When he demonstrates the app, the transformation that a picture goes through is pretty amazing. Here is a before and after example:
Pixtr seems like an ideal app to be integrated with any site that has a ton of photo-centric traffic like Facebook, Instagram, or the dating app Tinder (although that may be cheating and you may be accused of being a "bot").
There is some criticism and questions surrounding Pixtr. One investor I spoke with wondered how far people's vanity would lead them as far as retouching pictures of themselves. It seems to me, in some other discussions I've had about Pixtr, that the search for automatic photo retouching is a "holy grail" app for quite a few folks who want to project a better image online.
I tried the app out for a few days and was a bit disappointed in some of its current deficiencies, although Gadot told me that they are constantly working to make Pixtr better.
For one, the app didn't detect faces with regularity in pictures I had either already taken or took through the Pixtr app.
Second, if there was anything but optimal lighting, the app seemed pretty much useless. A few pictures I took of a family member's face as a test subject, outside on a sunny day, weren't retouched at all other than a red-eye search and "some" color adjustment.
However, the promise of Pixtr is huge. With so many people more concerned about how they appear online, Gadot shouldn't have any trouble building a big customer base.
If they can figure out a couple of the little quirks, the team at Pixtr may have a big winner on their hands.