It can be hard to impose order on the creative process, particularly when working in groups. Mural.ly, a new collaboration platform based in Buenos Aires, operates on the notion that order is overrated, and sometimes what you need is a big, messy page filled with inspiring ideas.
A sort of cross between presentation platform Prezi and Pinterest, Mural.ly is a "flexible content format" that lets users gather videos, pictures, text, and other bits of content onto a stretchable virtual canvas they can share with others. Digital Post-its and layering tools allow users to provide context to the materials, which can come from the web, a user’s computer, or an external drive. Once the materials are collected, Mural.ly can help organize them into presentations (unlike Lexi, presentations on Mural.ly are more of an added feature than a primary function).
Mariano Suarez Battan, founder and CEO of Mural.ly, originally developed the site as a platform for developing video games, but considers it a useful tool for anyone looking to collaborate on an idea. Before Mural.ly, Battan founded gaming shop Three Melons, which in 2010 was acquired by Playdom (which was later acquired by Disney).
"I’m always looking for interesting ideas in videos and art that inspire me around games, and I would store all this information in different data silos, like Pinterest or Delicious," he said. "At some point I realized I needed to put all these together in one flexible space that would allow me to make a mental, cognitive map of the different pieces of my ideas."
Unlike most collaboration platforms courting agency or brand creatives, Mural.ly encourages its users to share their ideas with everyone on the site. "We want to promote open-source ideas," said Battan. Unless users indicate otherwise, their canvases can be viewed by anyone on Mural.ly, though only designated people can make changes. Users who choose not to make their canvases public at all can restrict access to certain members via privacy settings.
Mural.ly, which was founded in November 2011 and consists of 10 employees, went live last week, and is currently free to users thanks to a $775,000 round of financing. Battan says Mural.ly will eventually make its money by charging users who want to maintain private accounts. He is also hoping to strike deals with companies like Dropbox or Google that will make it easier to import content from their sites.