The Story Behind STQRY

Today’s Featured BizSpark Startup is STQRY from Seattle, WA.   

Travelers typically turn to guide books or audio guides to help them learn about the places they go and things they see. But STQRY (pronounced ‘story’) Founder Chris Smith believed he could offer travelers something simpler: Smartphones that communicate interactive stories to zoo, exhibition, gallery and museum visitors.

“STQRY is an interactive mobile storytelling platform that any organization can use to share their rich and fascinating stories with their public,” says Chris Smith, who started building it after visiting the national treasures and artwork while studying in New Zealand.  He wanted to know more about what he was viewing. 

Interpretation of artwork and storytelling are the building blocks of the world’s most beautiful things.   Did you know, for example, that the world’s largest aquarium was built using unused sewage tanks? Or that Donald Duck’s car was inspired by the 1939 American-Bantam Hollywood Roadster? It’s those kinds of fun and unique facts that draw both institutions and visitors to the STQRY app.

STQRY helps you discover behind-the-scenes details from the palm of your hand.

STQRY uses Microsoft Azure to provide more behind-the-scenes information about objects, installations, exhibitions – and anything else – in real-world spaces. Using image-recognition, augmented reality, QR codes, and geolocation technology to unlock information, the app also sends users alerts when relevant information is available according to the user’s current location. When the user accepts the prompt, STQRY instantly guides them to the exhibit for more details using audio, images, text, videos and links to other sources of information.

“Microsoft Azure and other Microsoft technology offered through BizSpark makes starting a business extremely simple,” explains Smith. “STQRY at its core is built on a content management system where organizations are able to upload rich multimedia. We are developing new technology and Azure’s Media Services let us deliver content in the correct format, at the right speed and on any mobile device.”  

STQRY’s core infrastructure is built completely on open source software, starting with a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) stack. Smith says Azure works seamlessly with all of it, so connecting users on iPhone, Android or Windows devices is easy.

Now, the company is deploying Wi-Fi beacons to target visitors and push additional content out to   smartphones when STQRY is in use. The beacon senses the smartphone app and sends specific exhibit details to the app user. Adding this kind of Internet of Things (IoT) technology lets STQRY expand according to a visitor’s desires – they can see additional images or hear new facts about an art object, for example, by selecting the pushed information. Azure’s support of IoT has been critical for STQRY.

“Our whole business is based on data,” says Smith. “We’re delivering thousands of packets of data every minute and don’t have the resources or the time to worry about what happens if our servers go down or data is lost or corrupted.”

“We have confidence with Azure that information is going to be stored in a secure and safe way and delivered in a fast and efficient way to our customers,” Smith explains. “With Azure, we could literally go from one user to 10 million users within 10 seconds and not have to worry about our servers going down or any scalability issues. We can focus on our business and our growth instead.”

Smith hopes to be in 20 different countries around the world in the next few years.

“That means 10 different languages and delivery of content to more than 10 million people. We chose Microsoft Azure as our cloud partner because it will let us touch the world as quickly as we want.

“We tell our customers that we are their technology platform,” Smith adds, “but behind it all is Microsoft – our technology platform.”

Download the STQRY app today.


Microsoft is helping these startups succeed through its BizSpark program. To join or see other startup stories, visit us at our website here. To listen to our startups, check out these podcasts on devradio here

About BizSpark:  Microsoft BizSpark is a global program that helps startups succeed by giving free access to Microsoft Azure cloud services, software and support. BizSpark members receive up to $750 per month of free Microsoft Azure cloud services for 3 years: that’s $150 per month each for up to 5 developers. Azure works with Linux and open-source technologies such as Linux, Ruby, Python, Java and PHP. BizSpark is available to startups that are privately held, less than 5-years-old and earn less than $1M in annual revenue.

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