Private social network, Tinybeans, eyes 30 million new users

Online baby journal, Tinybeans, is hoping to lure 30 million new users in the next five years. But the founders of the ambitious private social network say they've had to overcome more hurdles to do business in Australia compared to the US.

From first steps to first days of school, new parents have a knack for sharing plenty of photos of their kids.

Tinybeans is one of a growing number of private social networks, hiding baby snaps from uninterested Facebook friends.

"It's a place for parents to keep a record of their kid's lives and share it with the people who really matter," founder and head of marketing at Tinybeans, Sarah-Jane Kurtini told SBS.

The idea was years in the making for founder and developer Stephen O'Young.

A father of three boys, he developed the app as a way to keep track of his kid's milestones and to keep in touch with family in Hong Kong and Australia.

Users can upload a photos each day onto a calendar feature and people like grandparents and close friends are notified by email.

Stephen paired up with marketing guru Sarah-Jane Kurtini to launch Tinybeans in 2012.

By the year's end a third co-founder, Eddie Geller, had opened a New York office, with investors overseas appearing more open to giving the start-up a leg-up.

"In Australia people are a little bit more hesitant and want guarantees of success which is hard to give as a new business," Ms Kurtini explained.

The majority of the app's user base is in the US, with word of mouth the main marketing tool.

Tinybeans didn't make any money for three years. A premium version was established allowing users to print their photographs.

However, only five per cent of the 1.6 million people using Tinybeans pay to use it.

The majority of the company's annual turnover comes from paid advertising agreements.

"In terms of revenue what we're really excited about as a small business is that we've pretty much got to break-even point," Ms Kurtini said.

"From not making any money less than two years ago, to getting to that point where we can sustain a team of 15 across two countries- we're pretty proud of [that]."

Tinybeans has publicly listed on the ASX - in a bid to grow their team and user base.

Those already using the app, could be in A-list company, with privacy a major draw card.

"We do know that a lot of celebrities use Tinybeans and high ends of government and I think it's for people who really, really value their privacy," Ms Kurtini said.

"It's not flooding your [Facebook] feed every day and it's being respectful of your kid's privacy as well."
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Source: Small Business Secrets