by Y Combinator8/11/2016
Fabric is an app that helps you remember the places you go, the people you meet, and the things you do. It detects the places you visit and matches them with your photos and Facebook and Instagram activity. We sat down with Arun Vijayvergiya and Nikolay Valtchanov to talk about this new product.
What YC Likes About Fabric:
“Fabric is a product that everybody can and should use. Arun and Nikolay are passionate about using the latest technologies to capture and journal the stories of your life. “
-Tim Brady, Partner at Y Combinator
YC : Where did the idea for Fabric come from? Arun: I was really close to my dad and he passed away when I was 16. One day I met a bunch of his classmates from college and they told me all these amazing stories about him that I never heard before. It changed the way I saw him and I thought it would’ve been great if he was able to leave behind those stories for me. I think he would’ve loved to tell me about how he first met my mom. So this idea has really stuck with me since I was a teenager.
Fast forward a decade, I met Nikolay when we were both working at Facebook in 2009. The two of us ended up working on Facebook’s Timeline feature, which reminded me how important it is that people’s stories are told and captured. Now that we have infinite storage capacity it’s possible to capture people’s full stories, so I decided to build Fabric.
YC : How does Fabric work? Arun: The idea for Fabric is to be able to record and tell your story without a lot of input. So, you start by connecting your Facebook and Instagram accounts to the app to give it some historical data. Then it’ll run quietly in the background and capture all the places you visit. It maps out your day and adds context to it through your check-ins and Instagram posts.
YC : That’s pretty cool. But doesn’t Swarm do that already? Arun: Fabric is completely automatic so you don’t have to manually check-in anywhere. And the product is really about telling your story rather than collecting your location or photos. These things on their own are only pieces of what happened that day, and what Fabric does is tie them all together. We’re providing context for your digital footprint. So just by checking in with Swarm or Facebook and posting on Instagram, you’ll be able to know where you’ve been the whole day and who you were with, all tied together through the photos you’re already posting. Nikolay: We learned at Facebook that there are things people want to capture but don’t necessarily want to share with the world. That’s why we’re not a social network. Users can share the content they want through the channels they want, but we’ll be here to capture all of it and create this cohesive narrative that you can look back at whenever you want.
YC : What kind of feedback have you gotten from your users? Arun: They all love the nostalgia that the app creates. It’s kind of like when you’re bored or procrastinating and you’re scrolling through your Facebook timeline. It kind of transports you back a little and reminds you of some of the things you’ve done. Nikolay: I do want to note that Facebook isn’t really complete. You have a lot of information that you’ve captured in different apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat but it’s fragmented. Together they tell the whole story but separately, they do not.
YC : Why hasn’t anyone created this product like this yet? Nikolay: The amount of information a single person creates has really exploded over the past few years. That data comes from the the obvious social networks but also through things like Uber and Starbucks. Both of them sends automated receipts to your email, which is another piece of your story. It may be a really granular point by itself but when you add these together, they create a really rich context that no other service has been able to do. All of the technology around this has been created recently and so in the future there has to be a product that will synthesize all of this information. We just want to be the first ones to build it.
YC : How do you see this product evolving? Arun: I want Fabric to allow anyone to search through their life and find anything. It’d almost be like a quantified self app. A lot of those apps are around fitness and health, but none are tackling it from a memory perspective. We’ve transitioned from capturing memories on film to digital formats and as we synthesize all of these digital memories, we’ll create the actual story of you–your digital fingerprint.
Y Combinator created a new model for funding early stage startups. Twice a year we invest a small amount of money ($150k) in a large number of startups (recently 200). The startups move to Silicon