Beta Byte is a series underwritten by Bust Out Solutions for that early stage tech found somewhere between idea and traction.
The Founder: Tommy Tompkins
What is the name of the company and/or product?
What distinct problem does this solve for who and how does this create value for them?
Undercover Pics is a steganography, encryption, and photo-sharing service that enables its users to conceal secret images inside cover photos and share them with friends. Our unique service goes beyond end-to-end encryption by protecting your important documents and images anywhere you put them; including your email account, phone, or hard drive without the need to install an app. Share passwords with a team, protect important documents, or promote your business with creative image based scavenger hunts where your customers can decode images to find clues to promotions or giveaway items.
How did you come up with the idea?
My father became a victim of a phishing scam where his Gmail account was hacked. Once inside, the hacker was able to access his personal and private information including bank documents that my father had scanned and emailed. These scans contained my father’s signature, my mothers signature, their social security numbers, and bank account numbers. The hacker downloaded money transfer request forms from his bank and forged the forms with all of their information and submitted a request to transfer $150,000 out of their account to an account in Singapore. This incident inspired me to create Undercover Pics to help provide extra protection to documents and images that deserve it.
What is the full launch/release date planned?
The service is currently free to use during public beta. We plan on launching paid plans at some point in late October / early November 2016.
Who is on the team?
Currently, it’s just myself but I’m looking to expand the team as traction builds:
Tommy Tompkins – Founded RedCart Solutions in 2006 with e-commerce solutions and tools for professional photographers to help them display and sell their images online.
What is the specific technology or combination of technologies is used?
Undercover Pics is comprised of a PHP7 / MySQL core with a Vue.js, Semantic UI, and Bootstrap front end hosted on Digital Ocean.
What is the size/scope of your market and how will you scale?
We plan on targeting users of password management applications since they have already established a desire to do more to protect their online security. The Password Management Market alone is estimated to be worth $709.6 Million by 2019. To scale, we will be leveraging our in-app sharing features that enable customers to share Undercover Pics with friends. This sharing process personally invites new users and introduces them to the service. Further down the road, we plan on expanding our focus to other markets such as marketing and promotions for small businesses to help them create image based scavenger hunts where their customers can decode images to find clues to promotions or giveaway items.
Who is the customer and what is your revenue model?
Our target market is the average consumer that wants to do more to protect their privacy. These are consumers that want a simple way to share passwords with a team, protect documents from unauthorized access, or have a need to keep other images private and protected. We will offer a free plan along with several paid monthly and annual service plans that allow users to encode and decode a certain number of images per month.
What is your greatest strength?
I feel that our greatest strength is the vast amount of experience that I’ve had over the last 10 years bringing RedCart Solutions from concept to one of the major players in the online proofing industry for professional photographers, including leading the technical development, design, sales, marketing, and customer support for the product. The combination of being a developer, having a creative eye, and wearing all the other hats provides a unique set of skills that can be an huge asset to any startup.
What is your biggest weakness?
Wearing all the hats forced me to know and understand what is necessary to build and sustain a company, but it’s also likely my greatest weakness. I’ve learned that I can’t do everything myself, and the success of a business is largely determined by a good team of experts that are able to work well together.
What is one resource you could use that would take this to the next level?
Money! We’re 100% bootstrapped and self-funded at the moment. If we had more of this resource, we would use it to advertise and get Undercover Pics in front of more people in our target market. We would also expand our team to hire a sales and marketing expert, an iOS developer to build a native iOS version of the application, and a dev ops expert to help with managing server security and scaling server hardware as we grow.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
The system is currently free to use during beta test and we’re looking for more testers to try out the system and give us feedback in a short survey. In exchange for completing the survey, we’re offering a 10% off discount code that will be good toward any of our paid plans after they’re released. The discount code will be issued after completing the survey. Interested? Visit https://undercoverpics.com and request an invite for early access!