At Tuesday night’s New York Tech Meetup, Dynamite Labs demoed its video app for sharing one’s true self—just as the company announced it closed on a $1.6 million seed round.
This monthly gathering traditionally brings out early startups, and sometimes just barebones tech. The slideshow above has its fair share of raw ideas, but as noted in June, some presenters at NYTM do have real plans to build businesses.
Dynamite Labs developed an app, Dynamite, for creating and sharing short videos, up to 42 seconds long, along with tools for the user to obscure their identity. The video facemasks and audio filters can be used for comedic effect, or to give the user anonymity when discussing matters that are deeply personal.
Joshua Dern, CEO and co-founder of Dynamite Labs, said the app can be used to make videos that folks can leave open to everyone, share only with friends, or completely exclude friends from seeing. “We give a lot of control over who sees your video,” he said.
Some of the videos may be amusing, but the idea behind Dynamite is to let users feel free to talk about things they might be reluctant to directly reveal to people they know. For example, Dern said a victim of assault or bullying may prefer to conceal who they are while sharing their story. “Most people really aren’t ready to take a camera, turn it around, and put it on their face,” he said.
The app uses face detection and motion tracking to keep the obscuring mask in place. This could be a pixelated-style fog that blurs all identifying features or an image—such as the face of a celebrity, or a cat—chosen by the user. The masks are in development and expected to go live in the coming days, Dern said.
The company’s seed round was led by Observatory Capital, and included individual investors Gordon Bell, Paul Gauthier, Scott Russel, and Timothy Tuttle. Dynamite plans to use the funds to move the app from private beta to public beta, and add more features. Dern said the masks can be tailored to fit the user’s story, with different options in the works to help them express opinions on politics or supporting personal causes.
There was a notable absence at last night’s event; NYTM executive director Jessica Lawrence was away in Washington, DC for the first-ever White House Demo Day, along with other stakeholders from the nation’s tech and innovation community. On top of encouraging the development of more startups, Lawrence and the others in attendance pledged to promote more diversity across the tech scene.
“NYTM will commit to engaging diverse members of the tech community by hosting at least four events for women,” she said in a statement. Lawrence also said NYTM will participate in at least four partner events with community organizations and host at least three events in parts of the city that are underserved when it comes to tech events and meetups.