By Rachel Butt
The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)
Like most parents, Xiaohu Yao and his wife like to document candid moments in their children’s lives. But they found that putting together a well-designed album can be cumbersome and costly. That prompted Yao to develop tapsBook, a free mobile app for Apple devices that organizes, synchronizes and prints photos from a slew of different sources, including Facebook, Dropbox and iPad photos.
“It’s all about that magical button to put a visual story in context beautifully and automatically,” said the 38-year-old Cary resident.
About 48 percent of people who started a photo book never finished it because the process was too long or too difficult, according to a survey by the Photo Marketing Association International.
Along with two co-founders, Ming Lin and Jane Yao, Yao hopes to solve what he calls “photo management chaos.” Yao earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science at the University of Maryland and an MBA from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. He was a manager at IBM for 10 years before starting tapsBook.
The app launched in early August and has attracted about 6,000 users thus far. Yao said he has raised an undisclosed amount from investors to finance the apps development and near-term growth.
Two weeks ago, a team of three tapsBook employees helped launch a localized version of tapsBook for the Chinese market. Aside from hiring high quality engineers at lower cost, adapting the app to a local culture is crucial to expanding its reach, Yao said.
While half of tapsBook’s promotional emails were read in the U.S., the open rate in China was only two percent.
“That’s when we realized we really need a localized workforce to connect to the local culture,” Yao said. That involves connecting the app to popular photo services and social networking platforms in China, such as QQ.