Picsart as a startup earned the status of a unicorn recently when it garnered a valuation of over a billion. Havhannes Avoyan’s freemium photo editing app PicsArt raised 130 million dollars at a valuation of almost 1.5 billion. It has thus been efficiently rapidly replacing Lightroom and Photoshop for the Gen Z of Instagram.
How Picsart Came into Being:
Avoyan grew up in Soviet Armenia and always harboured the dream of visiting an art school. However, his art dreams came to a crash when his designs and applications were rejected. Momentarily he gave up on his dreams of pursuing art and design and steered away to computers. He found a new passion for designing apps and focused mainly on machine learning and artificial intelligence. For the next thirty years almost, he gradually became one of the leading guys in the Armenian tech field with three brilliantly successful software startups.
Avoyan always remained a connoisseur of art and his love for it never faded, although his dream did. He egged his children to do the same. It was not until his eleven-year-old daughter Zara got internet bullied for a drawing she posted, that Avoyan’s art school dream kicked in again. Zara was heartbroken from all the negative criticism she had received and Avoyan as a father wanted to shield her. So he did it in the only way he knew- he created an app that would enhance and mold a few of the features of a picture in order to make it better. The app that was borne out of parental concern then moved on to become one of the most downloaded apps in the upcoming ten years. It has therefore gone from a mere photo enhancing app to a full-blown editing app along with video editing features and the means to create digital art, even for amateurs.
Features of The App:
Picsart became one of the first apps based out of San Francisco that has been downloaded almost 1 billion times over a stretch of 180 countries. It was initially available in English and the fact that it is now available in over 28 languages. The number of PicsArt app downloads only hints at its perennial popularity. Picsart offers some basic tools and presets for free while it charges 4.66 dollars a month for the premium model. Social media and smartphones converted almost everyone into some form of content creator and thus Picsart online has seamlessly become a design hub. With the use of artificial intelligence and Java-based design tools, this mobile app lets anyone edit pictures as easily as doing Instagram. The app is widely utilitarian in its purpose where one can choose from a wide range of presets in order to make their pictures ‘Instagram worthy’. The app has a more manual editing setup for the more professional editors. One could manually feed in formulas and save it as a preset or go creative along the process. One of the most popular features of the app is definitely its stickers and animation features. Millennials go wild with changing the backdrops of their photos using their downloadable sticker range. The app’s beauty feature also comes in handy when users want the perfect blemish-free flawless skin in their portrait shots. The red-eye correction or acne removal might not work in real life but works miraculously on the editing app. Moving away from the entire photo frenzy on the internet and social media, the app has also been used to make edits for digital posters for official purposes. It has garnered its position as not just an app used for flattering selfies but also something that could be used to edit editorial, glossy and high-quality digital campaigns for brands. Business people use it to enhance the pictures of their products to go on their websites, while digital marketers use it to enhance their scheduled social media postings and digital ads. Therefore, something that was destined to become a mere editing app has outdone itself and now, is a part of almost every smartphone.
Valuation of Picasrt in the Market:
The app functions with light to medium commercialization and the ads run within the app have now diminished significantly. Avoyan started the company by hiring computer interns since he believed that this was the best way to get the job done. The interns got their required expertise in the field while the app runs on newer and fresher ideas. Avoyan has continued with this strategy to date. Avoyan might have moved the headquarters of his app to San Francisco, but his operational team functions from Armenia because it is cost-effective. Avoyan and the group have employed massive growth tactics like installing newer tools and newer updates every week so that more users come on board and existing users always have something to look forward to. It is strategies like these that have led Picsart to become a household name, pretty much like Whatsapp. The initial 800 intern startup has now gained a valuation of about 130 million dollars with shareholders like Softbank and Sequoia, Tribe Capital, G Squared, Siguler Guff & Company, and Graph Ventures. Avoyan has not revealed his share in the company but sources deem him to be the primary shareholder. While Picsart online has become the new tech unicorn in the tech field, other editing apps like Canva, Photoshop, or Lightroom need to step up their game so that they could begin to compete with this user-friendly photo editor.
Avoyan plans to utilize his 130 million dollar venture capital to further the engineering expertise of his team. He believes this is imperative to keep up with the ever-changing market because it is only through several updates that he can attempt to stay at the top of his game. He also mentioned the fact that he wants to remain independent and probably aim at an IPO only later. While he mainly relies on ‘word of mouth advertising for upscaling the growing user base of his app, he plans to later develop an advertising and PR team to transform the app into a large enterprise. The progress story of the small app that stemmed from parental concern to a tech unicorn startup is thus, hugely inspirational.