Ghanaian app Suba set for Nigeria, Brazil, US expansion

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Ghanaian mobile app Suba, which collects pictures taken at events by all attendees in one photo stream, is set to launch in Nigeria this year as well as Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and the American cities of Miami and New York.

Suba, a location-based iOS and Android app, allows everyone at social gatherings to see and share photos in one central photo stream, going beyond the constraints of a friends list on other social platforms and allowing event attendees to see, save, and share everyone’s photos.

Developed by co-founders Nelson Klutse and Eric Hackman, Suba is funded by and based at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) incubator in Ghana.

“By using shared photo streams based on location, everyone can experience an instant feeling of community by seeing all the pictures of the event and people attending. Users can create, join and share photos in a fun and controlled environment,” Klutse told Disrupt Africa.

Klutse said the pair came up with concept for Suba after attending a friend’s wedding.

“Everyone was taking wonderful pictures and we realised we’d never have a chance to see them,” he said.

“We realised the need to have a mobile application that lets users take and share photos with people at the same event. An app that also allows them to relive the event later with multiple social elements: liking and doodling, allowing users to prolong the goofing, and the fun. Hence, Suba was born.”

Officially launched in September, the app made it into the top 50 apps in the Google Play store in October and was the official photo app for a United Kingdom (UK) event honouring the president of Ghana.

“Suba photo streams are public and extremely findable by default. It takes two taps to access all the photos uploaded by everyone who is present at the event,” Klutse said.

“You can see and add photos without needing to sign up for yet another social network. Suba goes beyond the friend list. Suba’s remix functionality invites a fun post-event experience missing from other products.”

Klutse and Hackman are currently looking for further investment in order to increase their team on the technical side and business sides, with the focus for the time being on building the user base as opposed to immediate monetisation.

When monetisation does occur, Suba plans to do it by selling stickers packs inside the app, offering premium services to business such as projecting photos of the event live onto a screen, communicating with event attendees after the event, and the ability to display adverts inside streams, and photo printing.

Klutse said the biggest challenge to monetising apps in Africa is culture.

“People are not used to paying apps in this part of the world and so don’t quite welcome the idea of spending on apps. If that behaviour changes, I think startups will have much more success with monetising apps,” he said.

He also said as a startup Suba was not in a position to obtain a beneficial arrangement with a mobile operator, such as zero-rating.

“Mobile operators are cooperative so long as any partnership will make for them more money,” he said. “Of course as a startup, we don’t have enough leverage to get a mutually beneficial partnership with telecoms. In the rare case where you do get a partnership, you need to settle for a serious compromise.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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