Extragram hopes to be to Instagram what Tweetdeck is to Twitter

Five youngsters from Chennai, who developed a sleek web application called Extragram for popular iPhone photo-sharing application Instagram, are betting big on its future.

Just a few days ago, Instagram founder Kevin Systrom announced that the popular photo-filtering-sharing service would be available soon for the Android platform. With over 25 million users worldwide, the service is on the way to become for photo-sharing what Twitter has come to be for micro-blogging: the definitive platform on mobile phones. There have been other similar photo-sharing services on mobile, but Instagram scores high on the filters it makes available for its users.

This could just be the windfall moment the Extragram team had been waiting for. Leading technology blogs, including the likes of Mashable and AppStorm, have already praised the web application for the way it renders it in a very user-friendly interface. It allows users to login to their Instagram accounts via a PC Web browser and comment and rate photos and follow up on other users.

The team now hopes to do for Instagram what Tweetdeck did for Twitter.

Make it the ‘go to app' for Instagrammers.

The co-founders of Extragram are from two small companies in Chennai — Effect Works and ByteAlly. The team of Narayanan Hariharan and Sonaal Bangera (Effect Works); and M.K. Karthikeyan, Ilaya Basu and Kevin William David (ByteAlly) combined their strengths in design and coding to bring out Extragram in April 2011.

Narayanan said the idea to develop something for Instagram, after the company had put out its API, came from “Apple aficionado” Sonaal. “He was a photographer and a heavy iPhone user. But my initial response was to just brush it aside.”

But he did give it a serious thought when they found out that Instagram was going viral, reaching two million users in four months and adding 1,30,000 users a week.

While Narayanan and Sonaal brought their user-interface design skills to the table (Effect Works is essentially into presentation design and user experience design), they needed a team of developers to code their product. That is where Karthikeyan, Ilayabasu and Kevin pitched in. The team worked after hours and spent out of their pockets to develop Extragram.

Within the first few days of the launch, the response was “tremendous.” So much so that the server they were hosting on crashed. “Perhaps, the only time one can be happy that it happens,” they said.

Robert Scoble, leading technology evangelist-writer, gave the service the thumbs up on his twitter account, and kudos came from all corners — from Mashable to Life Hacker (Japan) to AppStorm.

An upcoming Extragram re-design, which the team showed to this correspondent, features some ambitious upgrades, including third-party advertising on site.

The experience has allowed the ByteAlly team to graduate from being a services company to a products company. And Effect Works is planning to bring out more Apps.

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