– The Online Tool for Photo Collages

This week’s Startup of the Week features an interview with Joost Altena, founder and main developer of, an online tool that allows you to create photo collages.

Although not exactly related to Web Design or Social Media, it is particularly interesting to see how evolved from a technological point of view and as you will see below, it is important to be able to take action when technology is stopping your project from growing naturally. The interview below focuses on the development of so I’m sure you will all find it interesting.

Here’s the interview:

webgeekly interviewed Joost Altena to find out more about and how it has evolved.

What’s your name and role for

I’m Joost Altena, founder and main developer of

Describe in under 50 words.

Photovisi offers a free and easy way for people to make their photo collage online. Several creative templates and options are available to choose from,
making it easy to get something of quality from the start while still being able to customize it to your liking.

How and when did the idea for come about?

I was playing around with the Flickr API on a rainy weekend and though it would be nice to create a service where you could make a background for your desktop based on a certain theme. You would enter some tags, then it’d go search for Flickr photos and compose them together automatically as a collage. After working on it for a few hours, it actually made more sense for someone to use his own pictures instead. So that is basically how it changed into a collage tool with Flickr support.

How have you promoted Are you satisfied with its growth rate?

The first version didn’t have any drag & drop or fancy themes like it does now. Also, every individual photo had to be uploaded first, after which it was processed by the service, which then generated an image you could download. This all took a lot of processing power from the server. Then we’d got featured on LifeHacker and everything broke down under the heavy load, but with some crude changes it kind of managed to serve about 50% of the uses. This situation was unsustainable, so after that the decision was made to move to a Flash based tool and things have been really good since then in terms of the user experience. So far the growth rate has been above what I’d anticipated after the first post on LifeHacker, and it seems its not going to slow down anytime soon.

What are the long term plans for

There are a lot of fancy things that can be done and added to a tool like, but I think it’s also important to keep it easy enough for everyone. If something like this is going to be too complicated, it totally misses the point and users are probably better off with Photoshop or Illustrator.

Something that is planned is the ability to add effects to photos. The nice thing here is that it can make a certain collage theme match with the style of the photos, which are processed with the effects automatically. Take a 60′s vintage theme for example, it’d be great if the photos in the collage would have this vintage look to them, to make it complement the overall theme. Another obvious candidate is HTML5 support, which is going to be more important as the web evolves.

What advice would you give somebody who’s about to launch a startup?

I think experimenting a lot and testing what works is one of the most important things. If we didn’t decide to experiment with a Flash based tool, the service would’ve probably been shut down already, because the costs of all the servers needed would’ve been just too much. Also, trying to get your viral loop to work for you can help a lot. For a service like this is way easier than for others, like a business app, but you’ve got to make it easy for your users to get the word out for you. And it’s really easy to implement these things nowadays.

And finally, what’s the best reason web designers should try out

Most of us probably have tons of photos doing nothing; it’d be nice to bring them back to life a little. Just give it a quick try and see if you can get something nice out of it. It doesn’t require any registration and is very easy to do: choose a template, add your photos and when your collage is done, it can be downloaded and shared with the world.

A big thanks to Joost Altena from who took the time to complete this interview. It proves to us just how important it is to choose the right technology and that it can indeed be a determining factor in a startups success.

What did you think of this interview?

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Don't forget to check out more posts from the Startup of the Week section.

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