At e27’s Echelon satellite event in Tokyo today, Hidetaka Fukushima of Snapdish presented a little background about how his startup set out to take on a global market from the very start. This is certainly unique for any startup, but it’s especially unique in Japan where not too many startups venture beyond the domestic market – and even few startups succeed in their efforts.
Hidetaka explained that the majority of posts to Snapdish are of homemade food, specifically 70% – so it’s not just restaurant pictures. They have about 8000 posts per day, and about 2 million in total to date.
Currently they’re available in 11 languages, but the process of localizing their service went beyond just simple translation. Hidetake noted that when translating their ‘yummy’ button into other languages requires consideration of what will work in other cultures. So for Japanese that meant using ‘mogumogu’ (which means something like ‘nom nom’). But he explains that they even create food categories based on regional preferences, so for example, China has different categories than Japan.
Eventually they came to the realization that taking pictures of food was something that was particular to Asia, and they figured that Asia was going to be a big market for them. Nevertheless, their team is a very international one, with members from Japan, German, the US, Taiwan, and Denmark.
The global reach of the smartphone platform let them have significant reach upon launch, becoming the number one photo app in Japan, number eight in Taiwan, seventh in Singapore, and 11th in China. Eventually Chinese social network Renren approached them about a partnership, and they also established cooperation with SK Telecom. They’ve had some good media coverage too, with a mention in Travel + Leisure, as well as a mention on ABCNews.com as one of the top five food photo apps.
During the Q&A session, someone asked about Snapdish monetization strategy, and Hidetaka explained that they have official accounts for companies. Currently those accounts are free, but they will be charged later on. They plan to do paid campaigns eventually as well.
Hidetaka is a pretty sharp founder, so it will be interesting to see if they can make that jump from a large user base to profitability.