It was just last week when the Mustang Daily featured business administration sophomore Brett Edwards and his alter-ego, Mr. Eco. The rapping superhero also takes on the role of entrepreneur as he continues to develop his first website, whatthepic.com.
The site’s purpose is to share funny pictures taken with cell phone cameras. The idea for whatthepic.com came from a trip Edwards and his family took to New York to visit his sister.
“I found myself wandering around the city taking pictures of anything that made me laugh,” he said. “I would send them to a few select friends, but then I thought, ‘Why not share this with everyone?’”
So with that, Edwards presented his idea to the Entrepreneurship Club on campus, and began working with Web designers and developers.
“The ultimate challenge is to follow through with your ideas,” he said. “I come up with things like this all the time, but I decided it was finally time to do something. This was tangible, and feasible. I could actually make it happen.”
His first stop was Web developer and computer science graduate Justin Appler, who found Edwards’ idea innovative and creative.
“There are plenty of sites like this out there,” Appler said. “But none that really cater to cell phone pictures.”
Edwards also called on graphic designer Michael Uribes, who worked with his mother at the Fresno State newspaper, The Collegian.
“She knew I was a graphic designer,” Uribes said. “She asked me if she could give out my contact information for design work.”
Uribes designed the logo for the site as well as the layout and design of it, while Appler wrote the code.
With the help of Appler and Uribes, whatthepic.com launched on Feb. 7, 2011 — five months after his New York trip.
Since February, the site has had 5,849 visits from 3,230 visitors, and 25,085 page views. Of those page views, 1,600 are from San Luis Obispo. They have 170 “likes” on Facebook.
Edwards’ immediate goal is to break through new friend circles, and make whatthepic.com the go-to place for sharing the funny images captured in everyday life.
“It’s time for people to start sharing the funny things they find on our website on Facebook, or with their friends,” Edwards said. “The more people talk about it, the more people visit the site.”
Edwards and his team are working to improve the site to create a better experience for their viewers. Edwards is now focusing his attention on the experience of his audience as well as acquiring advertisers for the site.
“We’re working to randomize the pictures you see on the site,” Edwards said. “But really, we need more content before we can do that well.”
Appler said his codes and plans for the site were under wraps, but visitors would soon see some new additions and a few changes to the site.
Still, Edwards had no problem discussing the future for whatthepic.com.
“We’re launching version two soon,” he said. “It’s really just going to be cleaner and it will hopefully optimize the user experience.”
Edwards said his ultimate goal is to establish a network of sites, much like the series that started with fmylife.com. The network would encompass sites for funny cell phone videos, he said, and also break pictures and videos into common categories.
“There are so many different sites already,” Edwards said. “But cell phone pictures don’t really get credit. If we get this off the ground, then we can establish more descriptive genres of cell phone picture sites.”
If it sounds like Edwards is competing with sites like peopleofwalmart.com and awkwardfamilyphotos.com, it’s because he is. But he said whatthepic.com is devoted to cell phone pictures, which makes it stand out from its mainstream competitor websites.
“Our biggest competitor is Facebook,” he said. “You can upload things straight from your phone. So I’d really like to have iPhone and Droid apps for the site.”
He said he searches for developers on campus, and hopes to have apps up in the near future.
But for now, Edwards is focusing on making whatthepic.com a household name. He wants people to immediately think of his site when they see something funny.
“How amazing would it be to have people say ‘Oh this should go on whatthepic!’ when they see something funny around school?” he said. “I want to put that thought in people’s heads.”
And with the flyers and business cards circulating around campus, along with Edwards and his friends promoting the site on Facebook, Edwards said he hopes to reach a broad audience.
“Really, it has so much potential,” he said. “I just hope I can get it to reach that potential.”
His team members said they feel the same way.
“Whatthepic has the potential to become a hub for the funny things that people catch,” Appler said. “It’s got a bright future and could become one of those go-to humor-based sites.”
Edwards, Appler and Uribes encourage students to explore and contribute to whatthepic.com, and to spread the word to friends and family.
“It’s been very cool to be a part of something that can potentially reach so many people,” Edwards said. “It’s my baby, and I’m excited to see it grow.”