Pinyata to make a photo-based community

With the proliferation of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in student’s everyday lives, another social media platform might seem a bit extraneous. USC alumnus Steven Puri, however, thinks there might be room for one more.

Enter Pinyata: the site combines the usual mainstays of Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram into one fun platform, according to Puri. The concept is simple: it allows users to have a newsfeed sorted by events, such as “Coachella Weekend One 2015” or “USC vs. UCLA Game Day.” Within these events, the host and its followers can interact with each other by posting photos and comments.

“Our core idea was that our friend group could all share photos from events we were doing, talk about everyone’s photos, meet friends around the edges of our friend circle and talk about what we were doing next,” Puri said. “And have it all nicely organized by event on a calendar.”

And according to Puri, Pinyata is growing. The company reports almost 500,000 posts a day, and 75 percent of users incorporate the app into their daily social media use. Additionally, musicians and Youtubers have been using this app to reach their fans: some notable users include BryanStar, athlete Greg Jennings and charities such as “I Am That Girl”.

Puri said the idea for Pinyata stemmed from nostalgia for Facebook — once a new, budding site.

“A buddy of mine and [I] were talking about how our friend group had left Facebook,” Puri continued. “[Pinyata] is a simple, fun, mobile version of what Facebook used to be.  We talked about what we loved: We loved the pretty photos of Instagram.  We loved how fun and silly Snapchat was.  We loved having conversations in Twitter and GroupMe.”

Puri, who graduated in 1988 with a dual degree in journalism and business adminstration, was formerly vice president of production at 20th Century Fox. He left the entertainment industry to continue his development.

Puri said the lure of the entrepreneurial industry whisked him away from creating movies. He quit his job, and shifted fields in hopes of creating a social platform that would enjoy popularity.

“I got wrapped up in film and made that my full-time job. When I was at VP at Fox, the idea for Pinyata came up and it really grabbed me — the concept of telling stories collaboratively with photos, videos, text and animations.” Puri said. “I spent a few months meeting friends up in San Francisco and discussing it and seeing whether they thought it was viable … and then I took the plunge — both feet in the pool.”

Creating an app from the ground up was no easy feat for Puri.

Along the way, Puri ran into obstacles such as funding as well as creating a competent, passionate team of engineers and staff.

“We probably spent about 18 months getting user input, designing and building before we had our beta. Once in beta, we got people in the field using it and we tuned it as we realized it worked well for friend-groups and organizations … and also well for popular people to use with their followers,” Puri said.

Currently, the application is in its initial stages and canvasing for demographic groups to test it out.

“Right now we’re in the launch phase and we’re looking for groups — especially at ’SC — that want to try it out as a way of telling stories together in photos, videos and GIFs,” Puri said.