Emojis have quickly made their way into the mainstream and we are now even seeing government organisations and institutions making use of them on social media.
They are also big business. Millennials mainly communicate with each other through instant messages (IMs) and social media and emojis have become a huge part of that. An emotion that warrants an entire sentence to explain can now be accurately boiled down to one icon.
When a new emoji drop is announced, Twitter always loses it and the releases have become wrapped up in many cultural debates around diversity and inclusion.
Emojis are becoming increasingly more inclusive. Past releases have expanded the range of emoji skin tones and hair colours, increased female representation, and introduced gender-neutral variations. In February this year, Unicode (the non-profit responsible for approving new emojis) announced that there will be around 230 new emojis added by the end of the year, including a bunch of accessibility characters: manual and motorized wheelchairs, a service dog, guide dog, probing cane, mechanical arm and leg, deaf person, and an ear with a hearing aid.
One company aiming to make emojis for everyone is Double Trouble Creatives, the firm that bought us Moji Edit.
Moji Edit allows you to “emoji yourself” by creating personalised emojis to reflect your unique appearance and personality.
It was founded in 2016 by Sydney-based, Australian twin sisters Colina and Hripsime Demirdjian when they were just 24.
The twins, who had no prior tech experience put their law degrees on hold to develop the app and shortly after launch, it proved to have paid off.
“We noticed that there was no way you could create your own personal emoji that looked just like the actual emoji you see on your keyboard. The market options allowed you to create cartoon versions of yourself but nothing allowed you to make your own emoji,” Colina said in a post on Product Hunt.
A mere few weeks after launching, the app, which lets anyone turn themselves into a personalised emoji, became one of the most popular free apps on the Apple App Store in Australia, UK, US and Canada with 500,000 downloads.
The entrepreneurial sisters, who already had a loyal following of over 1 million on social media, harnessed this to survey other millennials opinions on emojis.
Their SurveyMonkey questionnaire generated close to 5,000 interested users from a single post who were willing to participate in their social experiment of defining the personal emoji and what that would look like. They continue to conduct regular surveys with their user database to guide updates that customers really want to see.
To make people connect with the app and want to create themselves, the design of the emojis and in-app purchases were key.
The app features over 1500 emoji attributes to make your avatar look like you. It then creates a personalised keyboard of emojis to see your avatar in different situations, with different emotions and wearing different clothes and accessories.
It was quickly picked up by a number of celebrities, so the pair cleverly created emojis for some of the world’s most viral people, such as Miley Cyrus and Kylie Jenner to share on social media.
To date, 10,192,076 users have created their personalised emojis and the app gets up to 30,000 daily downloads from the iOS app store.
Although there are now countless other emoji apps available on the market, the sisters say that being one of the first gives them an advantage.
“We were the ones that actually set the trend,” the Demirdjian twins told PC Magazine back in February.
“For us, it’s a matter of being able to be the first. It’s allowed us to have a loyal and trusted audience in the avatar emoji space. As a recognized brand on the app store, [we are] able to see this as the wave of the future and tell [others] how we see humans evolving in the visual communication and visual photo domain.”
Unlike many startups nowadays, Double Trouble Creatives is completely self-funded and the company is not currently looking for outside funding. The app is free but revenue is generated through in-app purchases to unlock different features that range from $2 to $7 AUD ($1.40 – $5)
Since their launch in 2016, they have released a number of updates and a globally-successful online store where users can create merch with their emoji’s face printed on it. The company also adds value and longevity to the app by creating seasonal and thematic add-on packs.
The Demirdijan sisters, who serve as co-CEOs, say that being twins helps them to play on their individual strengths.
“We’ve never really defined our leadership roles because, being twins, we naturally understand where each of us best plays our part.”
Moji Edit is currently working to bring their app to android users.
Colina and Hripsime’s advice to startups in the app space is to “always start with a minimum viable product (MVP) and consider user feedback. She said don’t spend all of your time on creating a dream product. “It will never pay off because users like feeling part of the process and the evolution of the product. That’s what we’ve learned.”
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