Friends down the road at Appek announced Wednesday that their hit selfie-drawing app “French Girls” surpassed 1 million downloads and that they raised $500,000 in a seed round led by Christina Milian (the pop singer)¹. This is incredible news and I feel both proud that something of this quality was born in my relatively small backyard and legitimately jealous that I didn’t come up with the concept first.
The app works like this: you take a photo of yourself and it flies off into the ether, while you are presented with a choice of other photos to draw. You send off your finished drawing and get one back of your photo. Other than a stream where you can see all drawings made, that’s pretty much it. So so simple, but absolutely brilliant.
It strikes the perfect balance of creativity, fun and social interaction to make it addicting. A playful, but well-thought-out UI and assortment of obscure (and not so obscure) cultural and entertainment references give French Girls a level of character that helps differentiate it from the bottomless pit of social apps.
The resulting drawing are actually pretty entertaining—enough to keep you scrolling through the top ranked/most recent streams. A few talented artists really sweat the details and try to create a masterpiece while others offer up stick-figures. Some shun the portrait altogether and come up with clever scenes, commentary or even messages. You can see a stream of the current top-ranked drawings at frenchgirlsapp.com.
A drawing of a photo of mine, in which someone stated the obvious about my beard.
An idea I had to draw what might be going on directly off-screen to the subject’s left. A bunch of these can be found in the app (most of which are of much higher quality).
I think the most interesting thing about the app is what happens when you give someone a blank canvas. When drawing a photograph, you are forced to look at it. Like, really look. You basically stare at someone’s face for 10-15 minutes, analyzing and studying their features and possibly scanning the background for embarrassing items. This creates a type of connection that just isn’t as strong with photo sharing apps like Instagram, and is part of the reason that I believe French Girls feels so unique.
Appek, is headquartered in Scranton, PA, which, besides fictitious references from television program “The Office,” rarely sees positive headlines when it comes to business, and any at all in the tech space. Hopefully this is omen of things to come in the area and serves as an example to others that quality stuff can be made anywhere.
Congratulations guys, on the seed round and hitting 1M downloads, but most importantly for making such a great app.