Spotlight on NJ Tech Startups: Snap MyLife’s Jiren Parikh, Part 1


jiren_Parikh_CEO_of_Snap_MyLife

NJTechWeekly.com recently interviewed Jiren Parikh, president and CEO ofSnap MyLife. The company rose from the financial meltdown to launch in 2009 as Exclaim Mobility (Princeton). In 2011 it was renamed Snap MyLife.

The firm’s vision is expansive. It is attempting to build an all-encompassing cloud service that connects mobile phones, Internet-enabled TVs and photo frames, PCs, Macs, tablets, notebooks and even autos.

The overall concept: to allow users to access, synchronize, back up, secure and safely store content on their devices and reliably access any of it from anywhere, regardless of the device or operating system.

Snap MyLife came to NJTechWeekly.com’s attention when it won the 2011 NJTC Growth Company of the Year award. How can you be both a startup and a growth company? This firm reinvented itself after the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

While initially financed by Edison Ventures and Sycamore Ventures, the original company was in debt. Parikh, a consultant for Sycamore at the time, leveraged his credit cards, 401K and personal checking account, restructured the old company’s debt and salvaged the firm, launching with four employees.

Today Snap MyLife employs approximately 120, some overseas, and expects to expand its N.J. operations. In fact, it is looking at a “multiyear expansion plan that would grow this company from the 100 people it is now to more than 250 by the end of 2013, with substantial revenue growth and profitability,” Parikh said.

How did your company get started?

Exclaim Mobility, now Snap MyLife, grew out of a company first launched in 2000 called Exclaim. Exclaim offered Internet photo storage and merchandising to consumers and had a hosted technology that provided imaging technology components to companies. It built out some great software to manage photos for companies like Adobe, and it did some mobile applications for Kodak and even a postcard app for Shutterfly. Ultimately, only the mobile business was generating revenue for Exclaim.

The company was going to be shut down, so I decided to see if I could restructure its debt and spin out a new company focused on mobile, which I did. While mobile was an afterthought at the old company, we decided to focus on it, taking one of the company’s applications, Pictavision—a photo app that could be used on feature phones—and marketing it.

At that time Pictavision supported accessing and uploading photos to 16 different photo websites. Users could upload photos from a mobile phone, download them and view their friends’ pictures, and it worked on the AT&T; network. AT&T; has been our flagship carrier ever since.

What came next?

When we rose from the ashes in 2009, we had a roadmap for a service that would allow consumers to share, manage and secure their lives anywhere. However, we needed to build a cloud service to make our vision come true. The fastest way to build the business was a mix of organic development and acquisitions. We realized we couldn’t make this happen fast enough without acquiring the building blocks.

Since 2009 we’ve made five acquisitions. In 2010 we acquired Mobicious (Cambridge, Mass.), which owned the products SnapMyLife and SnapToTwitter. SnapMyLife was a free photo sharing service similar to Instagram. It wasn’t making any money and had already gone through much capital, so we were able to buy it. That acquisition gave us the cloud technology we needed.

Next, we needed communications technology that would let us connect other devices such as personal computers. We bought Didiom (New York) in 2011. Didiom provided the firm the music technology and ability to both stream and back up content from a home PC.

Our third acquisition was certain assets of FrameChannel (Wellesley, Mass.). The company’s service allowed consumers to send content from any computer device and push it out onto a photo frame or television.

Our next acquisition was SmrtGuard (Princeton), which gave us mobile security, device security and the ability to back up personal information technology.

We recently bought a company called Inkubook (Indianapolis), which provided the back-end technology to create virtual photo books, media shows and physical print products.

When we bought Inkubook and SmrtGuard, we not only acquired great technology, we took on phenomenal engineers. Both companies’ founders joined us, and they’ve been a tremendous asset.

Why did your company change its name in November 2011?

When we emerged from Exclaim we didn’t have the resources to rebrand or change our name. Then we made the acquisitions and needed to align the company with our overall focus. We started with Pictavision, made it better and turned it into Snap Mobile. And we came up with a platform and called it Snap MyLife. SmrtGuard was relaunched as Snap Secure. It made sense to bring all the products under the Snap MyLife umbrella.

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