In this socially networked world, text is king.
Status updates — tiny dispatches from friends, family, strangers — are the atomic unit that keeps the social web whirring.
But, oftentimes, words simply lack visual pop.
"I started looking at my Facebook news feed on my mobile phone," says Alex Pooyan Khorram, "and I realized how quickly I just flip through things."
Khorram is the founder and CEO of Whims, a new mobile app/social network that's trying to change that.
"What Instagram did for photo sharing and photo creation, we're doing for status updates," Khorram explains.
Here's how it works.
You type a message into the Whims app on your iPhone. You're then presented with style sheets that offer different colors and fonts. You can pick themes ranging from Star Wars to Mitt Romney. You make a few tweaks, hit save, "and voilà, it shows up as a 'whim,'" Khorram says.
From within the app, you can then post your message on Facebook or Twitter, or share it on the network of Whims users.
"We're all sort of vying for attention," Khorram says. "If we can create a way for people to express themselves in a more beautiful way, why not allow them to do that?"
Next big thing?
The tech world gasped when Facebook announced in April it was acquiring photo-sharing app Instagram for $1 billion.
The app now tops Twitter in user engagement. (One declaration from the tech press: "Pictures beat words.")
But Instagram still generates zero revenue.
"Build the right product, build the right product, build the right product, get the users, and the money will follow," Khorram says. "I agree with that."
Whims is also a free app, but Khorram is trying to make money from the get go.
He says the plan is to partner with brands. The idea is to create Whims style sheets for users to tweak at will. Imagine a status update in your alma mater's colors.
Khorram — who previously founded social search firm CliqSearch — admits the company will likely encounter business model roadblocks along the way.
Still, he says the company is focused on getting early users hooked.
"Right now we're focused on really getting the consumer experience down," says Khorram. "So it's seamless, it's fun and it becomes ... addictive."
Whims was accepted into Apple's App Store on Wednesay afternoon. The five-person company is in the process of closing on a million-dollar round of seed funding, according to Khorram.
As they move into new digs in Philly's Bella Vista neighborhood, Khorram hopes Whims becomes the city's next big thing.
"It'd be wonderful for us to actually have a breakout company in consumer tech," Khorram says.
Whether it's Whims, only time will tell.
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