#MentorSpotlight || Meet Yaron Inger
“Focus on added value. Apple looks to push apps that add value to their users.”
Kid hacker to CTO
As someone who’s been playing with computers since childhood, it’s no surprise Yaron is now the co-founder and CTO of the uber-successful Jerusalem-based image editing software company, Lightricks.
Unlike today, with computers responsive and gamified, Yaron created his own fun as a kid, being forced to code and create his own games, turning ‘hacking’ into a hobby.
Not unexpectedly, he served in the 8200 unit in the IDF, an elite intelligence unit responsible for collecting signal intelligence and code decryption. After completing his service, Yaron went on to study computer engineering at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, in order to learn about the math and algorithms involved in computers.
For his thesis, he worked with augmented reality. Much like the recently popular virtual reality, augmented reality uses real surroundings combined with virtual pieces. Yaron’s key interest lay in image editing, creating as clear and realistic a picture as possible.
He continued working on the project, catering it towards mobile phones, and having decided to build a company around it, brought his project mentor on as CEO. The two of them took on three other partners to start Lightricks, a profitable company which has grown from bootstrap to employing a team of fifty.
Lightricks produces digital content creation and editing software, much like Adobe for desktop, but focused on a simple mobile experience.
The company began with their first product, Facetune, a successful portrait editing app that has attracted even major Hollywood stars. Their other product, Enlight, is a general photo editor aimed toward aspiring artists.
Though profitable, Yaron and his team decided to raise money this past year to bank on an opportunity. As time goes on, the app market is getting less fragmented, and they wanted to capitalize on it. They decided to create a series of apps not just for image processing, but for digital editing and creating. Naturally, a big goal comes with a great amount of work, and the team had to raise money for more designers, marketers, and developers.
Stay tuned, Lightricks is releasing a new product later this year!
Location, location, location
When asked if Lightricks has considered relocation to be closer to their market in North America, Yaron responds that as Lightricks is a fairly B2C company, compared to the majority of Israeli startups, it’s important for them to be in touch with their market in the States, but they have enough knowledge of what the consumer wants without having to relocate.
The team built a product that they themselves wanted to use and tested it with the Israeli market: after all, who doesn’t want a clear, flawless picture?
The one thing they did change was the pricing model. When testing in Israel, they found Israelis rejecting the cost, while Americans were unfazed by it. Yaron believes the price is justified for a product that delivers a ton of value.
Tips for APPrepreneurs
With Enlight chosen by Apple as an Editor’s Choice worldwide for two weeks in a row and Apple’s app of the year in many countries, tips from Yaron and the Lightricks team carry great value for other fellow ‘apprepreneurs’.
Here are several considerations regarding the way Facetune became such a success.
- There were many editing apps at the time Facetune launched, but Facetune was really the first app aimed at editing portraits in a super simple way. Photoshop is great, but it’s hard to use and comes with a steep learning curve. Through UX and UI, Facetune managed to bridge the gap between complex algorithms and simple people.
- A dedicated team made up of five founders worked on the app: four have PhD’s in computer science, three of them did research in graphics and image processing, one has a PhD in artificial intelligence, and one is a BizDev god.
- Add value. Apple looks to push apps that add value to their users.