In the past, I have written about a number of first generation NYC entrepreneurs coming out of the woodwork to launch new ideas. Sure, the market may not be great right now but in my opinion it is the best time to build a business. As an entrepreneur you have time to develop your product, refine and test it, and get it ready for when the market turns. The most recent addition to this list of second generation entrepreneurs is Andrew Erlichson, former CEO and cofounder of Flashbase.
When I first met Andrew in late 1998, he had just finished his Stanford Ph.d program in EE from Stanford with other well-known classmates. My fund seed invested in his idea which was to allow anyone to build database-enabled, web-based applications through a simple GUI. Some of the applications that users built ranged from simple forms for their website to richer ones like help desk, call center, project management, and sweepstakes apps. This was 1998 and Flashbase was a true predecessor to Intuit's Quickbase. We were obviously way too early but after a year of blazing this trail, we ended up selling the company to Doubleclick for a nice return. After spending a few years with his golden handcuffs on at Doubleclick, Andrew is back in action with his next project, Phanfare.
Like any great consumer service, the company started because Andrew wanted to solve his own problem with sharing his digital photos. For many, the first instinct with a digital camera is to make prints. However, it is clear that this will evolve and people will share more and more of their pictures online. The problem is that the print sites only want you to share with friends as a vehicle to sell more prints. They do not keep your photos up indefinitely, their branding is all over your private albums, and your friends and family get bombarded with email to buy more prints. So Andrew did what most entrepreneurs do, created his own software and service. Simply put, Phanfare allows users to share and back up their digital photos in a simple, permanent, polished, and unbranded way. You can even use your own URL to share photos.
So as the holiday season approaches and you snap tons of photos of your friends and family, I suggest giving Phanfare a try. I have my own family website and may just transition it all to Phanfare. While the service is great, my only question is how big this market will be for Andrew. That being said, it is great to see Andrew back with a new venture.