/Hovhannes Avoyan, Co-founder, PicsArt

Hovhannes Avoyan, Co-founder, PicsArt

“We are focused on the strategic and thriving demography of millennials”
“Unlike many platforms in the market, we are platform-agnostic, enabling users to share across any and all messaging and social media platforms”

The world of photo apps is a crowded place. With thousands of different photo-taking/editing/sharing apps to choose from and more being launched every day, it is a surprise when any of them break off from the pack and gather a strong following. And one of the companies that have made a name for itself in the space is PicsArt. PicsArt is already popular among Millennials around the world who are looking to have fun creating and editing content beyond just applying filters.

The app brand has redefined the basic concept of photo and video editing by focusing on the social editing experience. And while eyeing the growth in the Indian market the co-founder of PicsArt, Hovhannes Avoyan, in conversation with Pahi Mehra shared how important the Indian market is for the brand and exactly what changed due to the recent lockdown!


What is PicsArt all about? What inspired you to start PicsArt?

PicsArt is one of the world’s largest creative platform with 150 million monthly active creators. The platform has thousands of tools for editing your photos and videos.

My daughter was actually the inspiration behind PicsArt. When she was 10 years old, she came to me in tears because she had shared her artwork online and was bullied. It was that very day that I decided to build a safe space where anyone could share their artwork and collaborate in meaningful ways without judgment, fear, or ridicule. I wanted to create a supportive environment where anyone could easily make, edit, and share their creations with the world and also feel inspired by other fellow creators.


How is PicsArt different from any other online image gallery and aggregator platform?

We offer a very unique combination of thousands of creative tools, content, and a community of creators who connect around shared interests. These connections happen around their love for everything from photography and art, to K-pop bands, celebrities, video games, and more.

That’s what’s great about visual communication – it’s become a shared global language.

If you ever traveled to a foreign country, people communicate through gestures and signs, even if they can’t speak a common language. It’s the same on PicsArt. We built the user experience solely around visual communication.

Regarding competitors, there are dozens of apps that offer various forms of editing like filters, camera scenes, and special effects. They may get millions of downloads and people buzzing for a little while, but they don’t last. We consolidated all of these features into an all-in-one platform where you can do anything and everything.

Also, unlike other editing apps, we are platform agnostic, meaning we enable users to share their creations on any and all messaging and social media platforms. We also have AI and machine learning in a place that helps us stay ahead of the curve, and by leveraging the most up-to-date and cutting-edge technology such as Apple and Google’s AR Kits, we are always advancing our use cases and growing.


You have recently launched the web version of PicsArt globally. How do you think this announcement will help PicsArt?

Yes, we’re very excited about it. More than two dozen of PicsArt’s most popular editing and AI-based tools including our video slideshow maker, text editor, filters, and the entire library of premium content, including stock photography, templates, fonts, and stickers, and more, are now available on PicsArt.com.

For many years, PicsArt has been known to the world as an all-in-one photo and video editing app on mobile, but we wanted to make our tools more accessible to creators and enable them to edit on a larger screen. We also recognized that many of our users have been coming to PicsArt to create marketing materials for their small business and wanted to provide them an additional and likely more convenient way to access PicsArt.


What’s PicsArt planning for India in the future?

India is a very important market for us, and we have seen tremendous growth in terms of usage and downloads, even during the lockdown. With our easily accessible and simple-to-use tools, we think we can help equip India’s socially active Millennials and Gen Z’ers with creative editing tools that don’t require extensive training.

We are also seeing an increase in Indian users coming to PicsArt for all their festive season content so we plan to add even more templates, stickers, and creative content centered around these celebrations.


What makes PicsArt stay relevant to its users? It is present in many countries around the world and every place has its own cultural identity and significance. How does PicsArt stand out in these countries?

PicsArt is present in more than 175 countries. We even have users in the Vatican! We have offices in six countries which help us stay on top of the geo-specific user trends and behavior in several regions around the world. We are also heavily focused on releasing product features driven by a specific country or region’s community and their wants and needs.

We are one of the only platforms that consistently engages with our community and localizes all our content. By adding new content and curating weekly photo challenges in more than 30 different languages, we are able to continually inspire and ignite creativity among our entire creator base.

To stand out, we remain focused on a very core demographic – Millennials and Gen Z – which helps us curate content and build features that are more relevant, timely, and likely to trend.


How has the usages and growth of PicsArt been in India?

Our growth in India has been thriving. In recent months, we recorded a 45% increase in monthly active users (MAU) in India alone and a 43% jump in app downloads. We also found that the average time spent by users in India on the PicsArt app increased by 53% shortly after the country was ordered to shelter-in-place.


What are your thoughts about Artificial Intelligence?

AI is instrumental in helping businesses be more efficient and grow – and for the photo and video industry, I’d argue that most designers would gladly leverage AI to remove the repetitive and mundane aspects of their job to accelerate and enhance their work.

At PicsArt, we use AI in a number of ways, but ultimately, it helps to make complex edits quicker and simpler and enables us to improve the user experience. With more than 1B images edited a month on our platform, we have a lot of insight into people’s editing habits, behaviors, and patterns which enables us to build AI-powered tools and processes.

Additionally, all metadata we collect is used to directly improve the user experience by responding to the way people use our app and then create the tools they want or are most likely to use. It is a virtuous cycle – data helps to improve the product, a better product increases usage, and increased usage generates more data making AI smarter. This cycle is what helps businesses not only sustain, but also scale.


According to you, how do AI and image recognition/analytics fit into modern businesses?

Many consider AI the ‘new electricity’, as it can penetrate into all spheres of business and radically change them. Not only does AI make systems and products more robust and efficient, but companies that are best at utilizing AI will have an advantage over their competitors by providing superior services at a much lower cost.

Some of today’s biggest social network platforms rely on AI as a critical component to grow and scale their business. Without massive amounts of data, analysis, and machine learning, these companies would not be able to reach the phenomenal levels of success they have now. Additionally, the more data a business has, the more sustainable it will be. While anyone can copy features, in order to become the next Facebook, businesses need to have a growing network and a way to scale and learn from their data.


Where do you see AI/Machine Learning and other smart technologies heading in the coming years?

Over the last few years, many organizations have begun experimenting and even deploying Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technology to solve their business challenges. We’re one of those organizations.

With AI and ML, businesses are better equipped at predicting the future and detecting behavioral changes more accurately. The ongoing pandemic has also taught many businesses the need to take larger digital leaps and be open to more automated processes if they expect to survive and ultimately, thrive. PicsArt, AI is not just one of our core technologies it’s the future of our company. We are constantly building the infrastructure, neural network models, and applications for big data in hopes to be the leader in creative expression.


Is there any new feature/tool coming up soon for your users in India?

We recently launched our web tools globally and have added hundreds of new festive season-inspired templates for users in India to create with. We also plan to add more robust video editing features and capabilities.

Pahi Mehra is a hardcore journalism enthusiast, she holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from IIMM. She loves to travel and explore and believes in world peace.

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