Well, you... you’ve probably seen them all over Facebook and Twitter feeds; Bitstrips, the app that lets you make personalized cartoons starring you, yeah! Joining us live is Toronto-based Bitstrips creator, Jacob Blackstock. Thanks so much for joining us. Now, take us back to the beginning of this.
Oh, sure. You know, me and my friends used to always make comics together, it was one of our favourite activities, we put each other into our comics, try to make each other laugh, entertain each other, and we thought, “We’re having so much fun, why can’t everybody have this kind of fun?” So we made an app for it.
So... so how does it go from an idea to actually something you see on Facebook every day that millions are using?
Years of toiling! Yeah, just, you know, we’ve been building this for like seven years, a lot of artwork, a lot of programming, a ton and... a ton of work went into it.
So, it’s comics and technology. How do you actually marry them together?
You have to find artists and engineers, and get them to play nicely together!
Is that right?
Yeah, which is tricky.
Now, you’re doing this at the beginning with no money, no resources, I’m assuming, right? So how do you get all these people on board?
Well, we... you know, we bootstrapped it ourselves at the beginning, kind of put our own money and our own time into it, and just kind of got the ball rolling that way, then schools started using it, and that started bringing in some... somerevenues and we just kept evolving it over the years, and now we just got this new funding from Horizons Ventures in Hong Kong.
Yeah, OK, so tell me about this. Somebody’s on board now?
Yes, we’re funded.
How... and how did that happen?
They basically discovered us. The person who runs Horizons, Solina Chau, she’s like this brilliant financial technologywizard, who also is a lifelong fan of comics and animation, and she found Bitstrips, fell in love with it, got in touch with us and we made a deal.
What’s that like when the phone goes and somebody wants to invest millions into what you’re doing?
It’s like “Wow!” Kind of like pretty exciting, yeah.
So where do you want to take it from here?
Well, we see Bitstrips really as an amazing new way to communicate, and a way... a new way to interact with your friends, and, really, a new medium for self-expression: speaking through comics is a really powerful way to get your message across and we want to...
Investors like to see it as a marketing tool, so how do you generate money going forward?
Well, you know, there’s all kinds of ways you can do that in the future, you know, people want to put themselves into their favourite media and things like that, but really right now we’re really just focused on making it as much fun as possible for everyone who’s using it.
OK, Jacob, thanks so much for joining us.
Thanks for having me.
Right, nice to meet you. Before we go, you created a Bitstrip from... for Mel and I right here on the...
Yeah, yeah, there it is! There you guys are, and I’m in there, too.
Of course, you had to put yourself in there.
Yeah, and you guys are getting frosty!
Hey, you know what, that’s nice, that’s not too bad! You know, I like that.
Yeah, and here we are.
And there’s... there’s in the newsroom, at the evening desk, really. Is my hair really that messy?
You know, you can adjust that!
All right, thanks again.
Cool! Thanks for having me.