KC couple's app promises "one-of-a-kind designs in less than a minute"

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Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 5:01 pm, Tue Mar 25, 2014.

A Kansas City husband-wife team (left) hope their app Shapely, released for free in the App Store in December, will help non-designers make something they're proud to share.

Still need to create a holiday greeting? Shapely can do that. Looking to class up that pic of you and your loved one? Shapely can do that, too. Part photo editing app, part design tool, Shapely creator Chris Jones said the app lets users make "one-of-a-kind designs in less than a minute."

The app offers editing tools that include – you may have guessed – shapes, colors, graphics and the ability to insert text. It also provides textures, an option similar to photo filters in apps like Instagram, but Shapely's mostly replicate printing surfaces, such as paper, wood and felt.

Once complete, the user has the option to save their creation in the app, share it on social networks or send it via email.

Upon free download, users have access to 24 shapes and nine background fills. An in-app purchase of $1.99 unlocks 72 shapes and 27 background fills.

After releasing the app December 11, Jones said they've gained new users worldwide at a rate that has "greatly exceeded" their expectations. "And the numbers are trending upward," Jones said in an email interview Friday.

Jones came up with the idea for the app when he and his wife took a trip to Austin, Texas in Dec. 2011.

"I was inspired by all of the boutique shops and food trucks and how creative it is," Jones said. "I thought about opening a shop where people create a design and it's ready in an hour. And then I thought that's too formal. An app would work."

The app also has roots in a beer label Jones designed for a friend. "I asked him for his two favorite colors, his favorite shape and two words. It wasn't high design, but he fell in love with it, and we were done in 30 minutes," he said.

Jones, who's a senior interactive art director at a Kansas City, Mo. advertising agency, co-founded a company with his wife, Becca, a marketing manager at a Kansas City, Mo. commercial construction firm, in January 2012 to began working on the idea. He and Becca, who are self-funding the company, Left Hand Labs (both are left-handed), paid contractors to fill in their missing skills, such as mobile app development.

While Shapely isn't in a league of its own – its creator identified similar apps, Bezel Photo and Afterglow – Jones said most of its competitors are positioned as photo apps. Shapely, he said, allows a user to design with or without photography.

"Big picture," Jones said, "our mission is to make design easy and fun for everyone."

In the more immediate future, the couple is working on a "wish list of updates" and Jones teased that they have more tricks up their sleeve. As for an Android version, Jones said they're focused on improving the iOS app, but they'd like to eventually support the platform when "it makes sense from the business end."


Credits: Photo and Shapely image courtesy of Left Hand Labs. 

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