Startup of the Week: Shoutr lets you share files without internet – even on the moon

Shoutr
Shoutr

Picture this: after a memorable concert/music festival/camping trip, you’re sitting on the train with a couple of friends. Each of you takes a turn reliving the memories by displaying the photos you took – and promises to pass on the pics when you get home. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just exchange photos easily and quickly on the spot? 

Shoutr is an app for mobile devices that lets you share files of any size to people nearby. The best part? It promises to do its job anywhere – even without an internet connection. So in the subway, at the top of a mountain and even, in theory, on the moon. To find out more about how the technology works and how it’s different from Bump, read on…

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Can you tell us about Shoutr?

We’re a team of five people right now. The app we’ve developed lets you share files with people nearby without having to rely on an internet connection or using any of your data plan. Currently the app is in beta phase and available for Android devices – it’s not possible on the iPhone because we have to use APIs that are not allowed on the iPhone.

Where did the idea come from?

It was about a year-and-a-half ago. We met up at my place – I wanted to share photos I had and we surrounded my phone and realised that there’s no easy way to share photos, despite everyone having a smartphone.

The normal one-way transfer via email is slow and via Bluetooth you can only share photos with one other device at a time. We wanted to figure out an easy way to share the photos with everyone in the room. When we started looking into it, we found there was no such tool so we began to develop it.

Who are the founders and how did you find each other?

Sebastian Winkler, Christian Beier and Benjamin Werner. We met about 10 years ago when we started at the same university to study computer science. Before Shoutr, we already had a company, which developed Android apps as well. We then applied to get an EXIST grant from the government to pursue Shoutr – and we got it.

How much financing do you have?

Overall, for three people, we received €100,000 from the EXIST grant and also got additional funding from Startupbootcamp.

What is your USP and how does the technology work?

The difference to other apps is that we’re connecting devices directly. It has a lot of advantages. You can share anywhere you want and it’s faster, as long as you’re within 30 metres of the other person. There are no restrictions with data limit, so files can be anything from music videos to photo collections.

The technology is based on the WiFi capability built into each smartphone device. We use this to connect the phones directly. One mobile opens up a WiFi hotspot and the other devices connect to it and get the data. So it uses the WiFi from the devices – you don’t need another WiFi hotspot around.

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So it’s sort of like Bump?

In a way, yes. But Bump relies on being connected to the internet – servers where you send something to somebody and you upload data to the server and it gets downloaded again. We have nothing in between, it all happens directly between devices.

We heard you might be heading for a pivot – can you tell us more?

We first did the Shoutr app, which lets mobile devices talk to other mobile devices, and then we had another idea. Why not let mobile devices talk to desktops as well? So we had somebody else from our team tackle that idea. He developed an app called Wireless USB, also in the Play Store, that lets you connect a phone wirelessly to a computer. You can drag and drop files back and forth – take photos off your phone or add music on your computer to your phone.

We’re thinking about combining both of those apps into one. So you have one app that lets your mobile device talk to all other devices in the vicinity.

What is your business model?

We are still looking at how users are using Shoutr. Then we’ll be deciding and developing premium features that people will pay for.

Are you missing anything?

We are searching for business development guys, a designer and PR/marketing – we’re looking for interns at the moment.

Where do you see Shoutr in a year’s time?

With 15 million downloads! [Laughs.] We hope we can change the way people exchange data. The grand vision would be to have the devices smart enough to find the most efficient way to exchange data – if someone is far away, of course you would send it through the internet;  if someone is close by, you could send it to them directly.

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