Our tech start-up of the week is Guidecentral, a free mobile app for people to share and discover knowledge around everything from handmade crafts to home decor, fashion and beauty trends, recipes and DIY tips.
Guidecentral was co-founded by Gaston Irigoyen, a former Google employee, along with Francisco Miranda and Israel San José González. The team has been based at the Dogpatch Labs start-up hub in Dublin for the past eight months now.
Irigoyen, who hails from Argentina, had been living in Ireland and working for Google for more than two years, so he says he knew that Dublin was a good location to start a tech company.
"Ireland has a great combination of talent from all over Europe, comprehensive programmes for early stage companies and a welcoming start-up ecosystem in general," he says.
Mobile social network
Describing Guidecentral as a global community of people and a mobile social network, Irigoyen says it allows people to share knowledge about things they are passionate about.
He says that the app makes the content creation process a lot simpler for creators.
"The good thing about Guidecentral is you capture photos or images as you go, in a mobile friendly way," explains Irigoyen. "You can write captions via your smartphone and we do all of the packaging for you so you don’t have to worry about downloading all of the content and editing it. Guidecentral is optimised for mobile."
People publish their content to the Guidecentral community but this content also lives on a unique webpage that can be shared across a user’s social networks.
The app is currently available for the iPhone and can also run on iPod touch devices and the iPad and the iPad mini.
To expand Guidecentral’s presence beyond iOS users, the team recently launched a website for people to explore content.
"We will definitely work on other platforms in the future, but we want to make sure users are satisfied with our core product first," says Irigoyen.
The app is free to download and people can access and consume the content without creating any profile. If users want to interact with a community or create content then they can register and create an account via their Facebook profiles.
"We’re currently working to add more services. You will be able to sign in through Twitter, for instance," explains Irigoyen.
At the minute, he says Guidecentral has thousands of active users around the world, especially in the US, the UK and Australia. Roughly 75pc of users are women in the 15-35 age bracket, says Irigoyen, who are interested in areas such as crafts, food, fashion and beauty.
And while the Guidecentral team is not monetising from the app, he says the plan is to change that model relatively soon.
"We have been developing the product to fit our users’ needs, as well as expanding and nurturing our global community. Once we have a significant community around the world, then we will start monetising," says Irigoyen.
Experience at Google
Having worked at Google for more than five years, both in Argentina and in Ireland, he says his experience in being part of the YouTube team in Dublin definitely helped when starting Guidecentral.
"The YouTube team had a lot of similarities to Guidecentral in the sense that we were helping content producers build their audiences and create sustainable businesses."
Prior to setting up Guidecentral, Irigoyen had worked with his two co-founders Miranda and González on some side projects, including the development of two iPhone apps, one of which they sold to Kia Motors.
At Guidecentral, the company has also taken on Elizabeth Gleeson as community manager.
Irigoyen says being part of Dogpatch Labs is a great experience, especially as there are so many diverse start-ups based there.
"It’s a great facility and we share offices with some of the best start-ups in Europe. Noel Ruane from Polaris Ventures has been very kind to invite us and connect us with key people in Ireland," explains Irigoyen.
The plan for Guidecentral, he says, is to continue developing the app to provide a better service for users
"We have an interesting pipeline of features that we are going to launch; a few of them will be coming out later this month."
Guidecentral is also working closely with Enterprise Ireland via its high-potential start-up programme.
Finally, Irigoyen’s parting advice to other first-time entrepreneurs is to do as much homework as possible before they think about leaving their existing jobs.
"This includes everything from building a solid team and thinking of the idea thoroughly, to connecting with fellow entrepreneurs and investors," he adds.