Local Teams Launching Lasso, Startups at SXSW

Lasso App

The South by Southwest (SXSW) festival is now underway in Austin, Texas, starting with SXSW Interactive, which draws thousands of startups and entrepreneurs hoping to make connections or launch the next big thing. And as usual, there are creative and talented people from Hawaii in the mix.

This year, Chad Podoski and Jason Skicewicz are at SXSW to officially launch their new company, and their new app, Lasso. It’s a photo sharing app with an interest twist: rather than serving as yet another tool to push pictures out to friends on other networks, Lasso is designed to help you request, or pull, photos from your friends.

For example, if a bunch of friends had a party on Saturday, and were connected on Lasso, they could “lasso” each other to get photos taken that day. After getting sets of photos from friends, you can easily browse them in the app, “like” them, add or request more photos, or save them to your own collection.

Podoski and Skiecewitz have collaborated before as Shacked Software, and I’ve enjoyed trying earlier apps like FlickPad, Gube, and TeleTweet. But Lasso is definitely their most complex, and most elegantly designed, app yet.

“We co-founded Lasso with the former founder and CEO of Photobucket, Alex Welch, who happens to be a part time resident of Hawaii Kai,” Podoski tells Hawaii Blog.

You need to make a little mental shift to think in terms of “lassoing” (requesting or pulling) photos from people rather than pushing it to them. And it’s a little odd to start with a largely empty app (as you wait to connect with friends and request photos from them). Finally, I’d actually like to see more “push,” like sharing sets to Facebook or Flickr or simple web galleries of lassoed photos… but that would probably dilute the secret sauce.

Ultimately, Lasso is a promising new way to tackle the “how to compile other photos from an event” problem… a problem that even well-funded startups like the ill-fated Color couldn’t solve.

Even better, Lasso is already available for both iOS and Android, and a Mac desktop client is in the works.

lasso-1 lasso-2 

Lasso isn’t the only startup with local ties in Austin. On Wednesday, Burt Lum and I featured Austen Ito and Ryan Kanno on Bytemarks Cafe. The founding members of HI Capacity, now living in D.C. and NYC respectively, were on two separate teams participating in the Startup Bus program. The challenge? Building new startups while taking a three-day bus trip from New York to Texas. Ito pitched Jobber.io, and Kanno worked on Readin.gs.

While their pitches didn’t earn them passage into the final round, the trip did deliver them to SXSW, where they’re no doubt reveling in the annual maelstrom of tech.

I really enjoyed SXSW Interactive the couple of times I was able to attend as part of the Wondermill team. The energy was so infectious, I rushed to get my own web app built, just to have something to talk about with the interesting people I met. And Austin was a great city to visit. I hope to return someday!


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