December 14, 2017

TurnGram Turns Your Instagram Feed Into a Physical Shared Experience

“Throughout my career, I’ve had side-projects that become full-time projects,” said TurnGram Founder and CEO Arian Radmand. “I’ll find something to be interested in and I will just go from there.”

The theme of having a hobby on the side and turning it into a career was prevalent in his first startup, CoachUp where he was the Co-Founder and CTO. CoachUp is an online marketplace for private coaching lessons for those wanting to learn or practice a particular sport. The idea for his first company came from his interest in sports, sailing in particular.

Arian Radmand, Founder and CEO of TurnGram
Arian Radmand, Founder and CEO of TurnGram

For Radmand, his startup TurnGram came from an interest in photography, as well as a recurring experience when he would visit his family in New Jersey.

“My family, especially my grandmother, would always ask for pictures of me and my girlfriend,” Radmand said. “Her face would light up when I would show them my Instagram feed. When the holidays were over, she would always say, ‘When you leave, your phone leaves.’”

Taking note of how his family would appreciate the newer photos he had, he decided to send pictures from his Instagram account. For a while, Radmand was going to a local drug store and printing out various pictures, but found it to be time-consuming and, as he put it, “ridiculous.”

Radmand started looking for a service that could pull certain photos from someone’s Instagram feed, give it instructions on cropping, and then ship them. Much to Radmand’s surprise, there was not.

At the time, Radmand was trying to figure out what his next step was as an entrepreneur. He was exploring options for work at Techstars, and also spoke with venture capitalist firms about being a potential entrepreneur-in-residence.

After meeting with Accomplice VC Co-Founder Ryan Moore and Principal Sarah Downey and receiving a chance to connect with some of the firm’s portfolio companies he started using a co-working space the firm has for early-stage companies they are funding. The startup still uses Accomplice VC’s space today.

“Much like CoachUp, TurnGram was a nights and weekends job for a little while before it became a full-time gig,” Radmand said. “After a month of development, I had built an MVP.”

Radmand describes TurnGram as a “social media photo concierge,” that will deliver Instagram photos to a selected destination. Users will link one or more Instagram accounts to the TurnGram platform and from there, they can give TurnGram specific instructions on what photos to pick out. For example, if you take a lot of photos of nature and/or being outside, a user can type in ‘Only choose pictures of nature/outside/etc.’ and the company will choose the photos that fit that description.

TurnGram screenshot
TurnGram allows its user to input instructions for the company to follow and get the best possible pictures they are looking for.

“I wanted TurnGram to be as hands-off as possible so users won’t have to go to a CVS or Walgreens to pull their photos,” Radmand said with a chuckle.

TurnGram can also be instructed to crop out parts of the foreground or can make the picture focus on the people. Using another example, if a user took a picture of themselves and their friends in front of the Christmas lights in the Boston Common, TurnGram can cut out random people in the background and resize the picture so the user and their friends are the focus.

TurnGram was initially given to a few users Radmand knew who were active on Instagram and found there was interest growing organically through various social media channels including LinkedIn, where potential users started reaching out to him to use the platform. From there, Radmand decided to take another step in the business and start implementing a subscription.

Currently, TurnGram has two subscriptions: for $3.99 a month, a user can send only one photo, but for $4.99 up to five photos can be sent to a destination. In time for the holiday season, TurnGram also offers gift subscriptions where a user can pre-pay a set number of months.

Since the platform’s launch earlier this year, Radmand has seen a variety of users sign-up with a couple of unique use cases standing out to him.

“There have been a lot of college kids just using them to make collages in their dorms, but what I’ve seen a lot of is people making accounts for pictures of their pets,” he said. “I was surprised because I didn’t realize how much people like pictures of their dogs and cats.”

The team of TurnGram is predominantly part-time and come from Radmand’s time in the Boston tech scene. From CoachUp, Jack Carroll has joined as TurnGram’s Director of Operations. TurnGram has managed to raise over $100K in a seed round, with his former CoachUp Co-Founder Jordan Fliegel being a prominent angel investor for the round.

Getting to share a photo with other Instagram users is great, but what about wanting to share that with family members? After all, a feed may have a library of photos that would look great hung up or framed in a home. Through their platform, TurnGram is making something old new again.

Colin Barry is a contributor to VentureFizz. Follow him on Twitter @ColinKrash.

Images via TurnGram.
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