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With an MBA from Sabanci University and 10 years of professional experience, Tekin Tatar has built his career around e-business, digital brand management, and interactive advertising. Prior to starting BeFunky in 2007, Tekin wore many hats as the Business Development Manager of McCann Relationship Marketing Turkey, a leading multinational company focusing on digital brand management.
After realizing one day that he was tired of working for someone else’s company, his passion for digital media led him to establish the company BeFunky and a team that will always feel funky.
Founded in 2007 by engineers and cartoonists with a unique desire to integrate art and technology, BeFunky’s photo editor was designed to be a fun, easy-to-use tool that helps you turn ordinary pictures into incredible works of art. Today BeFunky is not only the photo editor that gives people the most creative control, but it’s also the only one available across every platform, including phones and tablets for iOS and Android, and the web. BeFunky is more than just an app: It’s a digital dream come true for people ready to get creative with their photos at home or on-the-go!
MO: How did your background and previous experience help contribute to the direction and vision of BeFunky?
Tekin: I worked for McCann Digital Marketing as a Business and Strategic Planning Director. Among my multitude of responsibilities, one thing I focused on there was delivering interactive experiences and campaigns for multinational clients like GM, Lancome, Biotherm, J&J, Nescafe, Tetrapak, and Total. In doing so I learned about the relationships consumers form with their brands. I figured out that the relationships between brands and consumers could be comprehended only by looking to the broader context of the consumer’s life to see exactly what the brand relationships were in the service of. I was into photography a lot at the time, so I decided to create a great brand that would serve the consumer-end in this respect.
MO: Can you expand on how your new version of BeFunky gives users more creative control than any other photo editing tool on the market?
Tekin: BeFunky has always been a leader among photo editors because of the number of effects we offer for free and because we have many unique ones you can’t find elsewhere. With our most recent update we not only added more of these, but we also added features that allow people to essentially create their own filters. We have always offered our users an unparalleled amount of creative control, but now that people can adjust the amount of each edit they apply to an image, stack as many effects on top of one another as they want, and undo actions as they go, our position as the photo editor giving people the most creative control is truly solidified.
One of the things we are most proud of with this update is that we’ve added all these new features but kept everything really easy to use. We’ve always believed that people should have as much fun editing their photos as they do taking them, so since adding such an abundance features while keeping the process intuitive was a challenge, having it be such an overwhelming success has been truly gratifying.
MO: What inspired you to have your team custom build a BeFunky photo booth from the ground up? What’s your marketing strategy for introducing it into the event market?
Tekin: We decided to build a photo booth from the ground up because we wanted BeFunky to interact with people in real life. So much of what everyone does now is online, and we wanted to reach out to people directly in a way that was both useful and supported our core values. While the photo booth is a great way to introduce people to our application, our main goal was to introduce them to the idea that we are here to help people have fun with their pictures.
The reason why we decided to go through such an involved process of building it from the ground up is because we had a vision for it that was different than any other photo booth you’ve seen or experienced. When we found that no one could modify what’s available on the market to fit our needs, we had people build it from scratch. In the end, over a dozen people from three countries and six cities were involved in its creation. This includes the BeFunky tech team who built the application that’s inside of the photo booth, which is where people can try out our BeFunky effects and what we are most proud of. When people step into the photo booth they get the true BeFunky experience, and when they’re done, they have a great memory that incorporates the fun effects that we offer.
Our marketing strategy is to take the photo booth to events where people are having fun so that we offer them a way to capture these memories in different form then they would normally have access to. While it was just recently completed, we were able to take it to music festivals in both Atlanta and San Francisco already and the response we got from people was overwhelming! People truly loved it, and it wasn’t just the free pictures they loved, it was the whole experience.
MO: Can you expand on the significance of your recent corporate move to San Francisco?
Tekin: BeFunky started out in Istanbul, Turkey, but what we create has always been extremely popular all over the world. We’ve watched our numbers grow dramatically over the past year so that now we have five million active monthly users creating over 50 million photos from across the globe. We decided to move our headquarters to San Francisco because it allowed us to be in touch with our community more directly, especially since we have a large amount of people using BeFunky in the US. Moving our headquarters to San Francisco also gave us access to the talent in the area. We continue to have our tech team based out of Istanbul, but we’ve found it really easy for our two teams to work together even though they are across the world.
MO: What are some photo editing trends are you’re excited about?
Tekin: Memories are the most valuable thing we have, and our photos represent our memories. Though they are always with us, the fact that digital cameras and camera phones are truly penetrating the market is making it easier than ever for people to hold onto these memories. I think this is just the beginning, and we will see a tremendous growth in this field. Photography is going to quickly become the largest media subject in the world.
MO: I know that you enjoy being a bit of a chef at home. What sites, apps, books or places do you look for cooking inspiration? What’s a recent creation that you’ve been particularly pleased with?
Tekin: One really great iPad app that I’d recommend to everyone is 20 Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver. I’m also a huge BBQ fan, so I’m currently trying to learn all I can about the American BBQ tradition so that I can create a fusion that combines it with elements of Turkish Grill. To help with that, I’ve been trying different things using the Weber’s On the Grill app.
I think the most fun and effective way of learning about different culinary traditions is to explore local restaurants and try to figure out the recipes of the food you eat while you’re there. I always try to analyze how the food is created when I find something that’s delicious, and I’ve found the best way to start this process is by talking to your server.
Recently I cooked red lentil patties for a block party in my neighborhood, which is a traditional Turkish recipe. I tried to make it taste like raw meat balls (another Turkish dish made with ground raw meat) while keeping everything vegetarian friendly
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