Show me the photo!

Friends spark each other’s curiosity with a new Italian social networking app


In a world where people can log on to any number of social media sites to get immediate updates from friends, brands, celebrities and others, Federico Renier and Maurizio Panese, cofounders of BlurryMe, take a different approach to social networking. They use the element of suspense to drive engagement.

Established in Venice, Italy, in 2014, BlurryMe offers an innovative photo sharing app designed to trigger people’s curiosity by letting users post blurred images to their feeds. They can then reveal the actual images to whomever they select within their social circles who express interest by pushing a ShowMe button. The app appeals to not only friends wanting to connect online in a novel way, but also retailers and other companies seeking to stimulate brand interactions.

For instance, a fashion retailer can upload blurred photographs of a seasonal clothing line a month before it is formally introduced to the public, creating a sense of anticipation among consumers. Then, on the day the collection is unveiled, the retailer can present the actual images to people who submitted ShowMe requests.

The long-term success of BlurryMe’s business strategy depends on the app gaining traction in the U.S. and other worldwide marketplaces where young people in particular are eager to try new social networking experiences.

To realize its vision, the startup needed a global cloud-based infrastructure that would rapidly scale server and storage resources to accommodate usage spikes generated by promotional initiatives and expanding volumes of image files.

BlurryMe worked with IBM Advanced Business Partner Beck et al. Services to develop the app using the TheDigitalStack mobile back end as a service (mBaaS) platform from Beck et al. Services. TheDigitalStack product provides a flexible framework with extended service-oriented architecture (SOA) and representational state transfer (REST) support for accelerating development of cloud-based mobile apps and enterprise solutions.

BlurryMe then selected a SoftLayer infrastructure to deploy the app because it provided the global reach, scalability and built-in management and security features the startup required. BlurryMe adopted the platform in July 2014 without considering other cloud service providers.

“Early on, we decided to go with IBM,” says Renier. “IBM’s industry-leading reputation, when combined with the SoftLayer infrastructure, meant a lot to us.”

BlurryMe provisioned a virtual server infrastructure in the SoftLayer data center in Dallas, Texas, to run production workloads. “It’s difficult for a startup in Italy to create a presence in the United States, but with SoftLayer we were able to create a bridge between Italy and the United States,” says Renier.

BlurryMe formally introduced app versions for the Apple iOS and Android operating systems in November 2015, achieving rapid time to market by taking advantage of a SoftLayer cloud infrastructure and TheDigitalStack solution. The company focused its initial marketing efforts in the US, where its Texas-based virtual infrastructure cost-effectively scales to handle escalating user activities and data volumes. The company also plans to promote the apps in other countries, confident that with SoftLayer technology it can affordably deploy additional infrastructure resources as the user base grows.

“A startup in Italy needs friends who put their faith in you and help you develop a successful offering,” says Renier. “One of our trusted friends is IBM.”

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