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Locket, an app for sharing photos to friends’ homescreens, hits the top of the App Store

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Locket, an app for sharing photos to friends’ homescreens, hits the top of the App Store

A new social app, Locket, popped to the top of the App Store charts in recent days thanks to its clever premise to put live photos from friends in a widget on your iOS home screen. In other words, it turns Apple’s widget system — typically used to showcase information like news, weather, inspirational quotes, or photos from your own iPhone’s gallery — into a private social networking platform.

The idea for the app was dreamed up by Matt Moss, a former Apple Worldwide Developer Conference student scholarship winner and recent U.C. Santa Barbara grad, who had been building a user research and testing platform called Hawkeye Labs.

Locket, he admits, was originally a personal side project — not his main focus.

“I built it as a present for my girlfriend for her birthday last summer,” Moss explains. “She was going back to school in the fall, so we were about to start a long-distance relationship,” he says. “The process of getting a little photo from her on my home screen…seemed really appealing. Just a nice way to stay in touch.”

The developer build the app over a week or two and ended up using it with his girlfriend fairly extensively over the past six months, sending each other an average of five photos per day. As Locket also stores the photos sent and received in its history section, the app became a fun way to look back on their photos, as well.

Soon, the couple’s friends started taking notice and asked if they could use it with their own significant others, family, or friends. So Moss decided to make Locket publicly available to users on the App Store.

The app launched on New Year’s Day, and has now seen over 2 million users sign up as of this morning. On Sunday, Lokcet became the No. 1 app overall on the U.S. App Store, per Apptopia’s app store data, and had become the No. 1 Social Networking app the day prior. Apptopia reports only seeing around 1 million global installs so far, with about 31% from the U.S. — but its data is only through yesterday.

Moss credits Locket’s rapid adoption to going viral on TikTok, where he published videos to an accompanying company account for Locket where he could show off the app in action. His video received some 100,000 views over just a couple of days. Other TikTok users then began making their own content featuring the app and the custom sound used on the original Locket video.

@locketcamera Link in bio #locket #widget #2021 #2022 ♬ original sound – Locket

This helped blow up the app even more among TikTok’s young user base. In fact, one video made by a TikTok user in the U.K. topped 5 million views in a single day, Moss noted.

While it’s common for app developers to leverage TikTok to drive installs at the time of launch, Moss denies that any sort of paid influencer marketing took place here, nor did he run paid advertisements on TikTok or elsewhere, he says.

Today, Locket remains in the No. 1 position on the iPhone’s Top Free Apps chart as a result of its TikTok exposure — and because its early adopters invited their friends to download the app and check it out, driving further installs.

To get started using the app, you’ll download Locket from the App Store and sign up by verifying your phone number.

Locket then requests access to your iPhone’s Contacts and Camera in order to function. Ideally, Locket would allow users to bypass full address book access to instead allow users to invite friends through standalone invitations, as that would be a more privacy-focused approach. Moss tells us he’s considering changing this aspect of the app’s behavior, which is meant to make the app easier to use. However, he says Locket doesn’t store your contact info nor send its invites automatically using its own phone number — it just pops up the iMessage window so you can customize the text sent to your friends.

However, if you choose to decline Apple’s pop-up which requests permission to pull in your Contacts, you aren’t able to use the app at all, we found.

After inviting and adding friends to join you on Locket, you’ll then add the app’s widget to your iOS home screen. The widget will showcase your friends’ photos as they add images throughout the day. You can also launch the app at any time to add photos of your own to be sent to your friends’ widgets.

Image Credits: Locket

There isn’t much more to the app than that, really. There are no fancy camera filters or effects, nor can you upload images from your Camera Roll. The experience is designed to be a way to share photos in real-time with a small group of up to five friends or loved ones.

Locket’s quick shot to the top of the App Store has Moss now thinking of his next steps. He plans to later introduce a subscription model and support for additional widgets and, at some point, an Android version. As to whether or not he’ll take on outside investment, however, remains to be seen.

“We’re definitely thinking about stuff,” he says. “We’ll see.”

But the creator believes there’s potential in Locket beyond its current photo widget experience — perhaps even growing out a set of features inside the app as users share more photos over time.

“I think there is something pretty meaningful to be built in the close friends and family space,” Moss says. “I do think people — especially younger people — are a little bit more tired of apps that are kind of very ad-centric and very metric-centric.”

“You end up with these huge social circles on the app — where you have 1,000 friends on Instagram, or you have to send Snapchats back and forth with your 100 closest friends — which actually takes a lot of effort at the end of the day,” he continues. “So the idea of making something that’s more geared towards those five closest people, or those ten closest people, and then providing a way to make your phone feel more personal and geared towards people instead of these apps — I think there’s a real appetite for that,” Moss adds.

Locket isn’t the first to offer a collaborative photo widget experience. Another app called Magnets, launched in 2020, had a similar idea but also supported sending short text messages to friends through its widget. Other apps competing in this space include Ekko, Widgetgram, Lettie, Tile Widget, Fave, and others. However, none have yet to achieve any sort of critical mass.

Locket is currently a free download on iOS but has only achieved a 3.4-star rating as some users didn’t seem to understand how to make the widget work, or were struggling with the onboarding process. The latter seemed to largely occur during the height of its viral surge when the app was experiencing some issues, but we’ve since tested Locket and found the problems to be resolved.

Source: Tech

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Dashworks is a search engine for your company’s sprawling internal knowledge

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As a company grows, the amount of important information employees need to keep track of inevitably grows right along with it. And, as your tech stack gets more complicated, that information ends up split up across more places — buried in Slack threads, tucked into Jira tickets, pushed as files on Dropbox, etc.

Dashworks is a startup aiming to be the go-to place for all of that internal knowledge. Part landing page and part search engine, it hooks into dozens of different enterprise services and gives you one hub to find what you need.

On the landing page front, Dashworks is built to be your work laptop’s homepage. It’s got support for broadcasting company wide announcements, building out FAQs, and sharing bookmarks for the things you often need and can never find — your handbooks, your OKRs, your org charts, etc.

More impressive, though, is its cross-tool search. With backgrounds in natural language processing at companies like Facebook and Cresta, co-founders Prasad Kawthekar and Praty Sharma are building a tool that allow you to ask Dashworks questions and have them answered from the knowledge it’s gathered across all of those aforementioned Slack threads, or Jira tickets, or Dropbox files. It’ll give you a search results page of relevant files across the services you’ve hooked in — but if it thinks it knows the answer to your question, it’ll just bubble that answer right to the top of the page, Google Snippets style.

Image Credits: Dashworks

Right now Dashworks can hook into over 30 different popular services, including Airtable, Asana, Confluence, Dropbox, Gmail, Google Drive, Intercom, Jira, Notion, Slack, Salesforce, Trello, and a whole bunch more — with more on the way, prioritized by demand.

Giving another company access to all of those services and the knowledge within might be unsettling — something the Dashworks team seems quite aware of. Kawthekar tells me that their product is SOC-2 certified, that all respective data is wiped from their servers if you choose to disconnect a service, and that, for teams that are equipped to host the tool themselves, they offer a fully on-prem version.

This week Dashworks is announcing that it raised a $4M round led by Point72 ventures, backed by South Park Commons, Combine Fund, Garuda Ventures, GOAT Capital, Unpopular Ventures, and Starling Ventures. Also backing the round is a number of angels, including Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear and Gusto co-founders Josh Reeves and Tomer London. The company was also a part of Y Combinator’s W20 class.

Image Credits: Dashworks

Source: Tech

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Daily Crunch: Google will offer G Suite legacy edition users a ‘no-cost option’

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To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PST, subscribe here.

Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for January 28, 2022! It’s nearly blizzard o’clock where I am, so please enjoy the following newsletter as my final missive before hunkering down. In happier and better news, TechCrunch Early Stage is coming up in just a few months and not only am I hype about it, I’ll hopefully be there IRL. See you soon! – Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Google invests up to $1B in Airtel: With a $700 million investment and $300 million in “multi-year commercial agreements” with Airtel, and Indian telco, Google has made its second major bet on Indian infra. Recall that Google also put money into Jio, another Indian telco. The deal underscores the importance of the country in the future of technology revenues.
  • What’s ahead for Europe: On the heels of news that European startups had an outsized 2021 when it came to fundraising, TechCrunch explored what’s ahead for the continent. Some expect a slowdown from peak activity, while others anticipate further acceleration. Regardless of which perspective you favor, European venture investment is expected to remain elevated for some time to come.
  • Zapp raises $200M: And speaking of European startups, Zapp, the U.K.-based quick-convenience delivery startup, just raised a massive Series B. The company previously raised $100 million, meaning that this round was big in absolute and comparative terms. As we see some consolidation in the fast-delivery space, this deal caught our eye.

Startups/VC

  • Are charter cities the future for African tech growth? TechCrunch’s Tage Kene-Okafor has a great piece up on the site noting that “African cities have the fastest global urban growth rate,” which is leading to overcrowding. Some folks think that “charter cities offer a solution.” Special economic zones of all types have been tried before – will they offer African tech a faster route forward?
  • Personalized learning is hot: Our in-house edtech expert Natasah Mascarenhas has a great piece out today on personalized learning startups – Learnfully, Wayfinder, Empowerly, and others – that are taking the lessons of remote schooling to heart and working to make products that work better for our kids. It’s an encouraging, fascinating story.
  • Rise wants to remake team calendaring: There is no shortage of apps in the market to help individuals and teams work together. But we might not need as many as we have. That’s why Rise is making me think. The team calendaring app just raised a few million, and could replace a few tools that myself and friends use. I wonder if the solution to the Tool Overload of 2022 is tools that do less, intentionally.
  • Canvas wants non-tech folks to be able to squeeze answers from data: Developers are in short supply, so no-code tools that allow folks who don’t sling code to do their own building are blowing up. Similarly, a general dearth of data science talent in the market is creating space for tools like Canvas, which “is going all in with a spreadsheet-like interface for non-technical teams to access the information they need without bothering data teams,” TechCrunch reports.
  • Zigbang buys Samsung IoT business: The IoT promises of yesteryear are coming true, and not. Samsara recently went public on the back of its IoT business. That was a win for the category. That Zigbang, a South Korean proptech startup, is buying Samsung’s IoT unit feels slightly less bullish.
  • Series F-tw? Once upon a time I would have mocked a Series F as indication that the company in question had failed to go public. But that was then. Today Series Fs are not that rare. Indian B2B marketplace Moglix just raised one, which doubled its valuation to $2.6 billion. Tiger co-led the $250 million round.

And if you are looking down the barrel of a blizzard, TechCrunch’s Equity podcast has your downtime covered. Enjoy!

European, North American edtech startups see funding triple in 2021

Image Credits: Bet_Noire (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Pre-pandemic, VCs were notoriously reluctant to invest in education-related companies. Today, edtech startups are seeing higher average deal sizes, more seed and pre-seed funding from non-VC investors, and an influx of generalists.

According to Rhys Spence, head of research at Brighteye Ventures, funding for edtech startups based in Europe and North America trebled over the last year.

“Exciting companies are spawning across geographies and verticals, and even generalist investors are building conviction that the sector is capable of producing the same kind of outsized returns generated in fintech, healthtech and other sectors,” writes Spence.

(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

  • Northern Light Venture Capital’s He Huang says the Chinese robotics market is overheated: Per the investor, robotics in China is “riddled with speculation and overvalued companies,” calling the situation a bubble. It’s worth noting that China’s central government is working to retool where its tech investment dollars flow.
  • Robinhood goes down, back up: This morning, in the wake of the company’s lackluster earnings report, TechCrunch dug through why Robinhood’s stock sold off in after-hours, pre-market, and early trading sessions yesterday and today. And then Robinhood turned around and gained ample ground during the rest of the day. It’s a weird market moment, but good news for the U.S. fintech all the same.
  • Google to allow legacy G Suite users to move to free accounts: After angering techies still using the “G Suite legacy free edition” by announcing that it was ending the program and requiring payment, the search giant has decided to ”offer more options to existing users,” TechCrunch reports. Somewhere inside of Google, a business decision just met the market and was flipped on its head. Makes you wonder who is calling the shots over there, and if they previously worked for McKinsey.

TechCrunch Experts

Image Credits: SEAN GLADWELL / Getty Images

TechCrunch wants you to recommend growth marketers who have expertise in SEO, social, content writing and more! If you’re a growth marketer, pass this survey along to your clients; we’d like to hear about why they loved working with you.

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3 experiments for early-stage founders seeking product-market fit

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At Human Ventures, we have a fund for pre-seed and seed-stage investments, a venture studio and an Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) program.

Through this work, we’ve discovered a lot about how different founders fulfill their journey of customer discovery and product-market fit. One of the largest challenges for pre-seed and seed stage founders is determining where to start: There are a million things to do. What should you do at each stage?

We interviewed three founders from our portfolio, all of whom ran discovery experiments to find their product-market fit at different stages of their company’s development.

Here’s what they had to share:

Pre-MVP/customer discovery phase: Tiny Organics

Tiny Organics is a plant-based baby and toddler food company on a mission to shape childrens’ palates so they’ll choose and love vegetables from their earliest days. The company raised $11 million in their Series A in 2021 and is growing at over 500% annually.

Founders Sofia Laurell and Betsy Fore joined our venture studio as EIRs and went through a six-week discovery sprint. As Sofia explains, they knew they wanted to build something to make parents’ lives easier and threw a lot of initial ideas at the wall from the Finnish baby box 2.0 (Sofia is Finnish) to an easier way to create Instagrammable baby pictures.

They went through multiple exercises to test the viability of new parents’ most pressing and urgent needs:

  • Conduct a “Start with Why” exercise
  • Define the “Jobs to be Done”
  • Create a lean canvas for each (viable) concept
  • Define the user journeys
  • Conduct user surveys using platforms like pollfish.com and 1Q (instant survey tool)
  • Identify and define their customer personas
  • Conduct customer interviews and synthesize them
  • Construct concept prototypes

They also met prospective customers, conducting a focus group of 10-15 moms. When the founders asked them to text them what they were feeding their children along with pictures for a week, they realized the lack of healthy finger foods in the market, thus sparking the idea for Tiny Organics.

Source: Tech

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