Startup story: Moojis, No. 1 in the App Store in three days
We all use emojis or stickers to express our emotions — in messages, social media posts and even within article comments. Some of us even search the app store for an app that will enhance the experience. Those small, smiling faces and objects, originally started in Japan, are now popular worldwide, and they are everywhere. Why should we bother with complex words and phrases when we can simply send an emoji of a smiling face, a red heart or a birthday cake? It is now safe to say that emojis or stickers are a market — a big one, with over 6 billion emojis and stickers sent every day.
Earlier this year Fortune reported that Snapchat acquired Bitstrips, the creator of the Bitmoji app, so that Snapchat users will be able to add cartoon images of themselves. This year we also saw a long list of celebrities who created their own emojis, including Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber and Ellen DeGeneres.
However, a group of three Israeli entrepreneurs thought that emojis, stickers and cartoons as we know them are simply not enough. Shlomi Ben Atar, May Hershkovits Reshef and Eli Basson founded Panimood at the beginning of 2016, with the goal of creating Moojis, an app that will allow all of us, not just celebrities, to create cool emojis using our own faces.
Behind this ambitious goal laid a real technical challenge, involving complex image processing, complicated UX/UI and the need for a strong infrastructure. That is why, for the purpose of developing the app, the founders turned to Appollo, one of Israel’s leading software houses.
“Many hours were spent on building an accurate algorithm and testing it on thousands of different selfie pictures of different people from around the world,” said Appollo CEO Keren Maimon. “It was important for the team to achieve a user experience that would be as easy and user-friendly as can be in order to fit the teenagers audience that the company was aiming to.”
Early in the process, the company joined the IBM Cloud program for startups in Israel and selected IBM Softlayer as its infrastructure. “It was crucial for us to be backed up by a global player that will be able to support the quick growth we were about to experience,” said Shlomi Ben Atar, co-founder and CEO of Panimood.
Israel is known as the “startup nation” and is considered a great beta site for startups to pilot their new solutions. Even though Israel is not a large emoji market, the popularity of Moojis was amazing. Moojis became viral almost immediately, and just two days after the soft launch, it went up to second place in the Israeli App Store, was top trending in all app searches and was the top trending app in Google Play.
On the third day, it reached first place in the App Store. All over the country, people downloaded Moojis-created emojis. TV and radio news said creating and using emojis was no longer for just teenagers. “The pilot in Israel was a great success, and we’ll now focus on penetrating our target markets — US, then Asia,” noted Shlomi Ben Atar. “Next, Panimood is looking to create a large, personal sticker marketplace inside of Moojis app and add more features.”
Moojis is available for download on its website.