Today’s Q&A is with Povio founder Matevz Petek. Povio is a unique app that let’s you ping others to spark a rich conversation through photo sharing, annotating shared photos, text-based chat and more. If you haven’t yet tried it, you should. There’s a reason that 15% of the total student body at Silicon Valley’s Santa Clara University are Povio users, and 55% of all Povio users in the U.S. are daily actives. And then there’s the team: If Matevz’ name sounds familiar, it’s likely because he’s a four-time snowboarding World Cup champion. He says he’s applying the discipline he learned as a professional athlete to building Povio. In our humble opinion, he’s off to a great start. We’re thrilled to be a part of this app.

Povio

Layer: Tell us a bit about Povio. What it is and what does it do?
MP: Povio is a demand-based photo sharing app, which will satisfy your curiosity and allow you to comfortably start a conversation, flirting maybe. All of this within seconds.

Layer: So do you consider Povio just a photo-sharing app or a messaging app, too?
MP: We like to think of Povio as a utility tool. As something that will find its place next to a phone call and text. Calling someone is awkward. Texting them is complicated. Pinging is fast, simple and it gives you ground for further conversation.

Layer: We love the way Povio lets you annotate a photo with text. Can you tell us about the design process that led you there?
MP: We wanted to make it feel as real as possible. Like having a conversation, there is no history and words are memorised, not stored. Also, we focused on the fact that asking for and receiving a photo is the beginning of all future interactions. A ping is a leader, followed by a point-of-view (POV), followed by a comment, which can lead into a chat.

Layer: Your growth is seriously impressive. Can you talk a bit about it?
MP: We’re quite happy with the way things are rolling right now. We’ve had great success back home in Europe and that gave us the courage to come over here and try to replicate it. In the past four weeks we’ve focused on Santa Clara University and had 1,200 sign-ups there, which is more than 20% of the undergraduate class. And half of them are pinging daily! The number just keeps growing.

Layer: What specific features have you built into Povio with Layer?
MP: We added chat functionality with Layer. It was exactly what we had in mind and definitely the best option we could choose. Highly recommended to everyone out there!

Layer: How did building on Layer impact your development process?
MP: It saved us a lot of work, time and we had no problems integrating it. The Layer guys were always there and ready to help us in an instant. They’ve built an amazing product and a great team around it. We’re really happy with how it turned out and even more with how it has worked perfectly ever since.

Layer: How does Povio set itself apart in the photo and messaging app spaces?
MP: Well, it starts in the least intrusive way possible – with a ping, which is a request for sharing. Current photo-sharing apps are push based – you send a picture to your friends whether they want it or not. With Povio, your friends are the ones who ask “Hey, what’s up, what are you doing? Show me!” and you reply back with your POV. You show your interest in someone, they reply with a photo and that can lead to a private chat.

Layer: You just graduated in the W14 Y Combinator class. What are the top three things you’ve learned from that experience?
MP: It’s impossible to expose only three things. There are so many. Being able to learn from founders of Gmail, Airbnb, Dropbox etc., to talk to them about your product. That alone is crazy.