Way back in the 90’s (saying that is so wrong), animated gifs were typically banners that someone who was building a website would use to attract attention to something or another. The more popular animated gifs were dancing bears, christmas lights, and even cars driving along in the middle of the web page.
Nowadays banner ads are fading fast and the animated gif is actually coming back.
Thanks to mobile usage and social networks animated gifs are almost, if not more popular than meme’s. If you want to get your point across in a cute, happy, or even angry way, you can say it with an animated gif. Technology has vastly improved over the past two decades as well, which means better animated gifs.
Of course there are places that are stockpiling cute, one off animated gifs that you can use to send to your friends and family but just like meme’s witty people want to create their own. That’s where Rodney Curl and his startup MyFaceWhen come into the picture.
The Howard University graduate has gotten the creation of animated gifs down to a science. In fact from start to finish you can get an original animated gif ready to send out in under 10 seconds. Curl also tells us if you want to use a stock gif MyFaceWhen will take you out to Reddit where gifs are a plenty.
We’ve seen a vast variety of startups come out of Washington DC. Cur’s MyFaceWhen is a fun mobile app and a nice break from the traditional tech startup.
We got a chance to talk to Curl. Check out our interview below.
What is MyFaceWhen?
MyFaceWhen is an app that lets you create, discover, and share animated gifs with your family and friends. It has three main sections. There’s a “Create” section where you can make a gif really quickly. There’s a “Discover” section where you can find gifs from Reddit.com. Finally, there’s our “Share” section where you can text, tweet or email your gifs to people you know.
In layman’s terms, how does it work?
We tried to focus on simple and quick. For create your own gifs, all you have to do is pull out the camera, shoot a quick video, and tap “save.” It takes about 3-4 seconds to convert and saves your new gif to your gallery. From your gallery you can share any gif just like you would a picture. Tap it and pick the way you want to share it. If you don’t feel like making your own, our discover section will give you hundreds of gifs that you can simply import.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds.
The founders are Rodney Curl a Howard University graduate who’s a Visual Designer and Ethan Diamond a Georgetown University graduate who’s a Creative Developer both with a specialty niche for developing interactive advertising. Collectively we’ve done work for a ton of notable companies including Nike, Old Spice, Volkswagen, Delta Airlines, etc.
Where are you based?
We are based right here in the nations capital, Washington, D.C. We are one of the few and proud companies on the east coast. We think it’s great to be in such a central location that invites people from all over the world to enjoy history while also connecting to the evolution of the future.
What’s the startup scene/culture like where you’re based?
The startup scene and culture here in D.C. is one that’s starting to buzz with creativity and passion. With the likes of Digital Capital Week Festival, more and more folks are starting to realize that some of the brightest technologist and creatives are feature right here in the nations capital. So you’ll always find people here constantly creating and developing startups and apps that are out of this world.
How did you come up with the idea for MyFaceWhen?
I would send Ethan various animated GIFs throughout the day to express myself when words just were not enough. So eventually we just combined my habit of working them into chat conversations I’d have with Ethan, with his idea of trying to figuring out a way to make it easy for everyone to do so by using the iPhone to create them and share GIFs in the blink of an eye. There after the birth of MyFaceWhen.
How did you come up with the name?
We put a lot of though into how we wanted people to latch on to our product. We knew we did not want to use “GIF” in the title so one day Ethan said how about we use “MyFaceWhen”. After he explained his reasoning as to how it was already a common catchphrase folks were accustomed to using I was with it and we ran with it. The major convincing factor for me was the true understanding that there was already a tribe of people out there that knew the phrase and hungered for an app that created GIFs they could use with it.
What problem does MyFaceWhen solve?
We believe that MyFaceWhen solves the problem of allowing folks to truly express what they feel in a comical way in a matter of seconds. It’s much more entertaining to look at Spongebob Dancing vs. reading through a three paragraph text message. We also solve the problem of making GIF creation quickly accessible and easy for anyone young or old.
What’s your secret sauce?
We’d definitely have to say our user base. Our user’s are constantly engaging with our app and they always seem to share the story of MyFaceWhen with their family and friends. It’s always good to know you have great users that love the app so much they’ll always support it and spread the word.
What’s one dilemma you’ve encountered in the startup process?
Balancing doing a startup with work. We still have full time jobs, so MyFaceWhen all gets done on nights and weekends. We’re passionate about it, but it definitely wears on you.
What’s one challenge you’ve overcome in the startup process?
Starting the task and following through to completion. To start from the concepting phase and project managing it to completion where folks around the world are able to use and enjoy our creation. Once we overcome taking our ideas and making them tangible we man’d up to the challenge of making an app that’s fun and usable.
Who are some of your mentors and business role models?
We definitely subscribe to the Apple mindset, which is to get out of the way of what our users want to create. Simple and stylish. I’m also mentored by Omar Johnson, SVP of Marketing at Beats by Dre. He makes it clear to me the importance of having a strong work ethic goes a long way and always get’s noticed. It further gives me drive to execute every task whether cool or uncool with the same tenacity and thought no matter what time of day it may be.
What’s next for MyFaceWhen?
Creating a website similar to Facebook and Tumblr, where people publicly can share and view each other’s GIFs. It’s been a wild ride thus far and there are so many different roads we can take. We have a long ways to go, but MyFaceWhen will only get better.