Vote for Post

CamFind finds the answer to a user-friendly visual search engine

Last week we posted a Kickstarter video on our blog and social media channels to help our friends at CamFind gain a little more exposure for their upcoming iPhone app.

When we posted their video, CamFind had $600 pledged for their $60,000 goal. They now have about $12,500 pledged. The idea has been solidified, and the designers and coders are waiting with baited breath for the funds to come through so they can begin the actual process of building the app.

This week, we talked to Brad Folkens so we, and our community, could gain a better understanding of the app and the creative minds behind it.

So what exactly is CamFind? Folkens explained the concept of the app, his hopes for the company, and his grade school business ventures.

How does CamFind work?

It’s a pretty simple concept—CamFind is an iPhone app that allows users to take a picture of any object, anything they want to get information about it. A big thing it could be used for is shopping comparison. Say a woman is walking down the street and she sees somebody with a purse she really likes. She would snap a photo of the purse and instantly be able to see what it is, where she can get it, similar items she might be interested in, and other related images.

CamFind is a mobile visual search engine similar to what Google Goggles tried to create. However, where Google Goggles functions at an unsatisfactory 15% accuracy, CamFind operates at 85%.

Google has the most brilliant minds and the most cutting edge software available to them, but they couldn’t get the concept of this app right. What we did was use a hybrid approach; we have extremely advanced machine recognition software in place, but we also have the human element. We paid really strong attention to speed and accuracy, so that if the machine fails to recognize an object it can instantly be sent out to our crowdsource and the user will get instantaneous feedback.

What was the inspiration for CamFind?

Over the summer we were working on an app called TapTapSee. What it does was allow blind or visually impaired people to double tap the phone to take a picture of an object, and the app would tell them what it was.

We got really great feedback from it, and it was amazing to see how many lives we changed because of it. One older gentleman told me that he was able to go to the grocery store by himself for the first time in his entire life because of this app. It was really inspiring to see the independence it gave our users. In January alone there were 3,000 downloads in the app store and people are taking two to three thousand pictures every day.

After that, we wanted to expand to a larger market, so we began developing the idea for a universal visual search engine, and that’s how CamFind was born.

What does a typical workday look like?

We have a small team working on CamFind, so we’re all working constantly and doing everything to prepare for the May launch. We’re working every single day, seven days a week, 12 hours a day nonstop.

It’s very exciting, but very hard work.

When did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

I’ve known I wanted to be an entrepreneur for a very, very, very long time. In grade school I tried to build laser pointers and sell them to all of my friends.

Dominik, our CEO, was the same way. He’s always had the entrepreneurial spirit. We met in college in 2002 and the first idea he pitched to me was an idea for a search engine. We’ve been working off that idea for the past ten years, building JRank, a search engine that merges crowdsourcing, image recognition, and the latest technology together.

I can’t imagine not pursuing this.

What are some of your favorite apps right now?

One app that has me totally captivated right now is called Lemon Wallet. It lets you track expenses and receipts. I’m traveling a lot between Chicago and L.A. right now and it’s so nice to be able to just take a picture of my receipts and store it in the app rather than storing them in a shoebox at home.

I also love Waze, a crowdsourcing GPS app, so those two are my new toys.

I’m very into photography and a great website called 500px just released their app, so I’ve been playing around with that as well.

If you could have one superpower what would it be?

These days I’d really like to stretch time so I could have more of it and get more done every day.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I hope CamFind is a success story by then and we’ve either made an exit from it or are continuing to grow and increase its profitability while positively affecting its users’ lives.

That’s the dream, really: to build a product that people respect, that people want to use, and that helps change peoples’ lives in some way.

What’s next for CamFind?

This year is going to be pretty intense. We’re working towards our launch to ensure that our product really takes off in the app store when it launches. It’s imperative that our app gets into the top 20 apps in the marketplace.

CamFind is set to launch in late May, but the exact date can't be predicted because Apple's app approval process can take anywhere from two weeks to a month.

We’re also committed to constantly improving our idea of what CamFind will be at its launch date. We have a great road map ahead for our technology and opportunities for revenue.

Posted By Team

Advisors Related to the Post

Gabrielle Belavsky