Architecture graduate’s mobile app sees 8m downloads in first few months

Unfold, co-founded by Alfonso Cobo, allows Instagram users to curate their stories, making their images and videos look more professional.

Alfonso runs Unfold with Andy McCune, who he met through Instagram. While Alfonso was confident Unfold would fill a gap in the market, he never dreamed it would take off in the way it has.

Image of Alfonso in NY

“I never thought this would become a business for me,” he said. “I thought people might like it, but I never imagined seeing the numbers we’re now seeing every day. We’re at nearly eight million users.”

Unfold was featured at a recent high-profile Apple conference and was the subject of an in-depth article in the Evening Standard, in which the innovation was described as the “viral app taking over Instagram”.

 

The inspiration for Unfold arrived when Alfonso was studying a Masters degree at Parsons School of Design in New York City following his BA in Architecture at Brighton. He was due to attend a careers fair but realised he had no way of showing recruiters his work in a digital portfolio.

This prompted Alfonso to create his own platform; Portafolio, which eventually grew into Unfold. His innovation capitalised on the wild success of Instagram Stories.

“Unfold was a pivot from Portafolio after so many people were asking for a way to share their work on mobile devices,” said Alfonso.

Example of Unfold layouts

“There was something about people wanting to share their work and tell their stories on their phones. I realised users wanted to share stories where most people would see them, and, at this time, Instagram stories, was taking off, so I decided to use that to my advantage.”

Alfonso believes Unfold gives Instagram users the tools to “stand out from the crowd” among the millions of Instagram Stories available at the tip of our fingers: “I wanted to create something that could give everyone the chance to be creative without needing to have the software skills.”

Of the working relationship between himself and Andy, Alfonso said: “Although Andy and I are very different, our personalities and skillsets really compliment one another. Also, our shared passions in design, photography and tech definitely help stimulate business creativity and innovation.”

Alfonso moved to Brighton from his native Madrid, which he admitted was a “big risk”. However, he said that studying at the University of Brighton “allowed me to explore a creative side of myself I hadn’t uncovered yet, and it helped me overcome the fear of taking risks in design”.

He added: “I met people from all over the world and they welcome me with open arms. I still keep in touch with many of my tutors from Architecture at Brighton, such as Kate Cheyne, who really pushed me to think outside the box and gave me the freedom to experiment and research areas that interested me.”

“Brighton is also one of the most welcome and fun places I’ve ever lived in. I loved getting immersed in British culture and I would have never experienced it in the same way I did without going to University. The people I met in Brighton during those three years really shaped me into the person I am today.”