If your Facebook feed has been taken over by Bitstrips, you’re not alone, as the Toronto-based social comic strip producer just announced their initial numbers, and they’re staggering, to say the least. In just over two months since the Bitstrips app launched on iOS and Android, there have been over 30 million avatars created, rocketing Bitstrips up the charts to the number one app spot in over 40 countries, and the number one entertainment app in over 90 countries.
In fact, there have been over a quarter of a million avatars created in the following cities alone: Mexico City, Chicago, Hong Kong, Lima, and London.
“It feels like we transformed the Internet into a comic strip,” says BA, aka Jacob Blackstock, Co-Founder, CEO & Creative Director of Bitstrips. “The numbers we’re releasing really blew us away. We expected it to grow, but the daily reality blew away our monthly projections.
“I think one of the reasons it’s really taken off is that comics are universally loved. Even if you’re not into comic books, you’re into the Sunday Funnies.”
But if you think Bitstrips is an overnight success, that’s really only half the story, as BA explains that it’s actually taken about seven years of behind-the-scenes hard work before the app finally released and caught fire.
“I feel like in a lot of ways, my whole life has been leading up to this,” he says. “I started making comics and animation when I was a little kid, and I’ve been doing it my entire life. As I was growing up, it also became a really social activity for me. I’d make comics with my friends, then we’d put each other in the comics, and we’d try to get each other in trouble by sharing comics in class, or later in life, we’d send comics to each other over the fax machine. So it’s kind of like we’d been doing analog Bitstrips for years and years and years, then as technology evolved, we realized that this was something everyone should experience because it’s so much fun. It’s such a great way to express yourself. It’s such a great way to have fun.
“And that’s where we got the idea for Bitstrips. Why can’t everybody make their own comics? Why can’t they put themselves in their own comics and use it as a medium for self expression? It’s not just about you making the comics, but since you and your friends star in these comics, it’s like you’re the medium. The visual nature of comics just speaks so much louder than text.”
BA realized the greatness behind his concept, and when he saw the world becoming more and more entranced by their smartphones, he knew he had to make bring Bitstrips mobile, spending one year developing the app before finally launching it this fall.
“When the iOS version launched, it just went viral all over the world,” says BA. “We were technically still in stealth mode when we launched. We were still testing and finding bugs and figuring out how it worked, but before we knew it, Bitstrips was everywhere. It’s just one of those things that transcends language and culture. The app wasn’t even finished in our eyes, but it started to be used by everyone.”
The only problem for BA and crew is that the app is currently not being monetized. But while they figure out the best way to move forward in terms of monetization, Horizon Ventures has stepped in with $3M in Series A funding to help pay the bills.
And with a collection of new holiday comics about to be released with Bitstrips’ next update, the money comes at a perfect time as the app continues to trend at the top of the charts for the foreseeable future.
“One of the best feelings I have is when I draw a picture of someone and give it to them,” says BA, “but why should people who draw be the only ones who are able to experience that? With Bitstrips, we’re democratizing it.
“We still have a lot of work to do and a lot of new features to roll out over the next few months. There’s a growing library of content with over 2,000 comics you can customize, but this week, we have a massive batch of holiday comics coming out, covering every aspect of the holidays. We think this is the best custom greeting card generator on the Internet. I can’t think of anything better than sharing comic strips with friends and family over the holidays.”
Looks like 30 million avatars are about to flood Facebook, only this time, they’ll be wearing Santa hats.
“People are really going to have fun with it,” says BA, “and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
For more on Bitstrips’ explosive growth, check out AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.