Ram Singh loves to travel. And it’s that love that sparked the 42-year-old former Microsoft engineering manager’s latest pursuit: Gazeable.

The company’s two iPad apps — Gazeable and TripRaves — essentially are pictorial guidebooks that help people answer questions like: “Which of my friends have been to Hawaii?” or “What are the most-liked photos from Spain from all my friends?”

Sound familiar? Well, it should for GeekWire readers, since earlier this week we wrote about a similar application called Trover that also organizes photos from friends around places and events.

Trover is similar in the sense that it too is a travel discovery and inspiration app,”notes Singh. “It is different in that Trover is trying to build its own social network of followers and followings where people follow other people who post good travel pictures, whereas TripRaves simply shows you travel pictures from your own Facebook friends.”

The travel photo (and experience sharing arena) is a crowded one. We caught up with Singh to find out how Gazeable plans to stand out from the pack.

Singh previously founded Mombo and Flikpiks

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “Our iPad apps, Gazeable and TripRaves are pictorial magazines built from your Facebook friends’ most-liked photos. Gazeable shows all types of photos, whereas TripRaves is focused solely on travel photos and gives you inspiration and ideas for where to travel to next.”

Inspiration hit us when: “I love to travel and love looking up Facebook photos from friends who have been to different places, and that serves as one of the biggest sources of inspiration and ideas for where to go next. I also love to post my own travel photos on Facebook for my friends to look at. Earlier this year, I was wondering if any of my friends had been to a specific place (Spain), and despite the wealth of travel photos on Facebook, there was no way for me to do this query on Facebook: “Show me photos from all friends who have been to Spain.” While Facebook is great for consuming the photos on a real-time basis, it is not great for going back much later in time and looking at the aggregate picture. For example, Facebook does not help you answer the question “What is the top city or country my friends have been to?.” This is when it occurred to me that an app that answers these questions readily via photo pages such as Top Cities, Top States/Regions, Top Countries, etc. and allowed me to search for all photos from a specific location posted by different friends would be extremely useful.”

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Bootstrap. Once we have tested the idea and gotten traction and stickiness, we will see if we need VC or Angel money to scale further.”

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Deep passion for travel, photos, and Facebook.”

The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Too early to tell. We have kept the apps as simple and as close to the core idea as possible and avoided any feature creep. Once the idea is tested and we start to get more traction, we will learn from the users.

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Only time will tell.”

Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Zuckerberg for creating Facebook and making it what it is today, and really instilling the social DNA in the rest of us. And duh, the apps are all about Facebook and in the case of TripRaves, creating a vertical (travel photos) out of what is already in Facebook.”

Our world domination strategy starts when: “You think TripRaves when you think: “Where should I go next?” or “I wonder who has gone to place X.” You think Gazeable when you are in the mood to browse through friends’ photos.”

Rivals should fear us because: “We wouldn’t like to create fear in anyone’s mind. We would like to beat the rivals in a way where they don’t realize what hit them. Ok, just kidding. Like I said above, we are very passionate about travel, photos, and Facebook — all three ingredients of the apps. And we are building the apps for ourselves and nobody knows better than us what we want and need.”

We are truly unique because: “It is simply impossible to have any other team that is as passionate about travel AND photos AND social networks as we are.”

The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “Nothing too significant. The real hurdles lie ahead of us, and only time will tell which ones we overcome successfully and which ones we don’t.”

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Follow your passion (assuming it involves building products that solve real problems).”

Startup Spotlight is an occasional look at a Seattle area startup company. Have an interesting new venture you want spotlighted in GeekWire? Fill out the questions above, send  photos of the founder(s) and company logo to tips@geekwire.com. Past profiles can be found here.

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