Startup Weekend is excited to announce that SW alumni Freak’n Genius is launching YAKiT, their first mobile app, today. YAKiT is a quick, simple, and fun tool for creating short video messages that bring hilarity, laughter, and creativity to any conversation.
Freak’n Genius was formed in 2011 at Startup Weekend Seattle after the team worked together on a cartoon about a man and his talking tapeworm. After the team was announced the winner, their brains started spinning with possibilities.
From there, the Freak’n Genius team was accepted into NEXT, a three-week curriculum powered by Startup Weekend and based on Steve Blank’s Customer Discovery process.
At NEXT, the team met mentors who introduced them to Techstars’ Microsoft Kinect Accelerator program. After graduating the Microsoft program, the team pitched to a room full of investors and received an acquisition offer. They turned it down in order to maintain their own vision and a few weeks later, closed a $500k round of seed funding from a series of angel investors.
The team headed back to the streets where they spent almost a hundred hours conducting customer discovery and validation, which then turned into the concept of YAKiT.
“Between Startup Weekend and SW NEXT, we have been provided an abundance of resources, new opportunities, rapid learnings and failures, but most importantly, the right people to take the big risks with, ” Freak’n Genius Founder and CEO Kyle Kesterson said. “I knew by the end of the first weekend that I found a couple of co-founders that proved they could buckle down to execute, learn and navigate while being met with uncertainty, stress, and confusion.”
YAKiT allows users to bring photos to life in seconds by putting words into the mouth of anyone or anything. They create hilarious animated video-messages that deliver more satisfying and engaging conversations than texting or emojis.
Users can choose photos from their camera library, or search online or via Facebook directly within the app to find the perfect picture. They can also take a picture with the built-in camera. Once they have selected a picture, the user will be guided to highlight the mouth, then record a short message. Before sending it off to a friend, they can adjust the pitch of the audio to really give their video that LOL factor – making Justin Bieber actually sound like a man or your BFF sound like a chipmunk.
Freak’n Genius is currently the leading company of the Washington Interactive Network’s new REACTOR Accelerator. Their idea has evolved from interactive tapeworm cartoons to performance-based animation with the Kinect to a robust web platform and mobile app for animated video messaging, all while executing on the core vision of helping connect people and remove barriers to creativity, communication, and fun.