It was all sort of an accident. Developers Jonathan Wegener and Benny Wong decided to take a break from TechStars NY and have a little fun at a foursquare hackathon. “It was the one day during the entire program we didn’t go to the office, just a way to step off the grind of 15 hour days,” Mr. Wegener told Betabeat.
The product, originally called Foursquare-And-Seven-Years-Ago, sent users an email reminding them where they had checked in one year prior. “People had a really strong reaction to it,” said Mr. Wegener. “We kept thinking of it as this jokey little app we built, but when we had so many users it was starting to cost us money just to send out the daily emails, then we couldn’t ignore it anymore.”
Today the product relaunched as Timehop, which adds Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to the list of services from which users can cull their digital memories. It was a move inspired by Yipit’s Vin Vicanti. “He took us to breakfast and told us that our email was one of the things he looked forward to reading each morning,” Mr Wegener said.
The boys had a great product market fit, but Mr. Vacanti felt that their market, Foursquare’s 15 million users, was too small. “That was the conversation that got us to bring all these other services on board as well,” Mr. Wegener said.
For now the company is relying on some help from a fellow TechStars alum to get the emails out, but they are considering bringing advertisements or daily deals into the service in order to monetize. “When we tell people about the service, its kind of split down the middle,” Mr. Wegener said. “Half of them get it right away and the rest look at me like I’m crazy. ‘Why would I want to remember what I did a year ago?’”
Mental note, not a good service for people who feel they’ve peaked. But a pleasant reminder that our best ideas often come when we stop trying so hard.