Edinburgh start-up PicoJar has completed a $185,000 (£146,000) pre-seed funding round led by Techstart Ventures and backed by Skyscanner founder Gareth Williams.
The business, which was founded by former Amazon and Skyscanner software engineer Siwei Kang, is behind an app which allows users to manage and annotate mobile phone screenshots.
She says people are taking a fast-growing number of screenshots which build up into unwieldy banks of nondescript data. They want to be able to share and access them instantly and Picojar uses AI to allow them to do that by quickly curating them into lists.
Kang said: “In the age of attention economy, the rapid speed at which we consume information calls for a more effective way to capture thoughts and ideas – copy-pasting is simply too slow.
“PicoJar believes mobile screenshots are the digital synapses that can capture any inspiration at the blink of an eye from literally anywhere – from a YouTube course slide to an insight encountered on Twitter.
“But there is no tool in the market that is making these screenshots useful, most of them usually end up cluttering your photostream and never see the daylight again.”
Kang, who is orignally from China, graduated in computer science from the University of Washington in 2012. She worked for GPU specialist nVidia before joing Amazon as an intern at its Seattle headquarters, where she became a software engineer.
In 2015 she moved to Edinburgh as a front end designer with travel search business Skyscanner and became engineering manager there. She created Trippo, a screenshot for travel planning app, and led the launch of green travel at Skyscanner.
In the meantime, she was working on her Picojar project and left Skyscanner in April last year to pursue it full-time. PicoJar is due to launch its first private beta this month and users can now sign up online to request early access.
Screenshots have become an increasingly important means for people to capture and store photos and information on the internet or social media that might be quickly censored or deleted.
Kang added: “More and more screenshots are circulating around the internet these days due to the ongoing events and movement. People share screenshots because they are forensic – they can capture any fleeting digital moment, and it doesn’t matter if it is an Instagram story or a later deleted tweet.
“PicoJar is not just a utility tool that helps people organise their mobile screenshots, it also empowers people to express themselves without having to go through the hurdles of traditional content creation. Showing others what inspired you is the quickest way to build a narrative about who you are.”
Calum Forsyth, an Edinburgh-based investor at Techstart Ventures, said: “We are delighted to lead PicoJar’s pre-seed round. Since our initial conversation with Siwei, we have been hugely impressed by both her product instincts and wider vision on knowledge curation.”