Snaps Grabs $2.25M from Steve Kantor, Others, & Gets Bostonian Prez

Mobile branding app developer Snaps based in New York, announced Monday it raised $2.25 million in a round led by Steve Kantor, CEO of merchant banking firm S2K Partners, with participation from other angel investors including Ben Barokas, co-founder of AdMeld (acquired by Google); Jonathan Carson, chief revenue officer at Vevo; and Michael Kassan, CEO of MediaLink.

Along with the funding came the appointment of a new president for Snaps—sales and marketing veteran Andy Levitt, who was a founding partner at Boston-based healthcare marketing agency HealthTalker.

Proceeds from the round will also go towards new hires in engineering and sales, says Snaps CEO and founder Vivian Rosenthal.

The app lets users insert movie characters into personal photos.

The app lets users insert movie characters into personal photos.

Snaps—which was known as GoldRun until about five months ago—developed an augmented reality app that inserts images supplied by brands into photos snapped with smartphones. These combined images may include characters from movies, products, and celebrities. Users can then share their creations across social networks such as Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter.

With more advertising dollars expected to flow into the mobile market, Rosenthal says, figuring out how to monetize photo sharing is important for the sector. “This is something everyone like Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr is trying to crack,” she says.

The idea behind Snaps, Rosenthal says, is to get consumers who are fans of brands to create a type of user-generated advertising with social appeal. “We’re not a network serving up banner ads on mobile,” she says. Through the app, Rosenthal says, users produce personalized content that might catch the eye of their friends and family. “It pushes into the realm of social advertising,” she says.

As users create and share images with the app, Rosenthal says, Snaps lets brands use the content for marketing campaigns such as photo contests. The platform also offers market research information that brands can use regarding which product images consumers choose to include and which social networks they share the images on. “They are getting data and analytics around the usage,” Rosenthal says.

Founded in 2011 as GoldRun, the company previously raised more than $1 million in seed funding. Though Snaps started out under a different moniker, Rosenthal says her company’s rebranding was not the sign of a pivot. “We realized that we needed [a name] evocative of being in the photo space,” she says, “and something that captured the idea of what these virtual objects were.”

Rosenthal has high hopes for a new platform for interacting with photos that’s on the way from Snaps in early November, though she only revealed a few details. “It’s a new way to communicate with images,” she says. “It will usher in a new collective consciousness around photo creation and sharing with branded content.”

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