Chute Photo-Sharing Service: Let Your Customers Promote You Visually Chute, a San Francisco-based startup providing a platform for building and hosting media-rich apps and sites, has received US$ 2.7 million USD in seed funding from a group led by VC firm Freestyle Ventures that includes fellow VC Battery Ventures, as well as Chute, which originated in the Y Combinator startup funding/incubator program, says its goal is to “serve, route, or analyze every photo and video on the Web.”

Chute Opens Up Impressive Client List

Although Chute is still technically in beta launch, the company already boasts an impressive slate of high-profile clients including media providers and TNT -- as well as NHL hockey team the New Jersey Devils and online reputation ranking service Klout. Just this past weekend, Chute hosted a live fan photo stream from The British Open golf tournament. which was integrated with the Twitter hashtag #TheOpen.

Let’s take a closer look at Chute’s specific solutions.

SlideChute Adds User-Generated Media to Websites

SlideChute is aimed at companies that want to make it easy for consumers to add photos to their blogs and online publications. Companies have the option of allowing users to post photos, as well as captions and profiles. In addition, the solution can be used to integrate consumer photos, captions and personal information with online contests and marketing campaigns. Users can also import photos from social networks such as Facebook and Flickr.

SlideChute allows consumers to drag and drop photos onto corporate sites with one-click functionality, and companies can moderate user uploads, collect additional user information, and create custom terms and conditions. Chute says companies can get “up and running” with SlideChute in minutes on blogging sites such as Tumblr and WordPress with a single line of code.

In addition, Chute offers a tool called TinyMeme that is designed to turn a set of photos into a dynamic gallery with which consumers can interact and share their own photos. The Chute platform features a cloud-based back end.

Let Your Customers Do Your (Visual) Advertising

With the advent of social media as a tool for consumers to comment on anything and everything in their lives, the concept of letting customers perform free advertising through positive postings about your brand, as well as through Facebook “likes,” Twitter follows, etc., has already become pretty well-established.

However, customers performing free advertising by posting and sharing photos is a newer, but no less intriguing concept. With the additional funding it has just received, it’s not hard to imagine Chute expanding its services to allow customers to post other digital content, such as videos, onto corporate blogs, social network pages and other online promotional vehicles.

Chute’s ability to integrate with contests and marketing campaigns makes it easier for companies to incentivize consumers to perform this type of free advertising, and moderation and customization tools help ensure inappropriate content does not wind up online for the world to see.

As the Web continues progressing as a visual medium, it will be interesting to see how Chute and other services that integrate the visual side of social media with corporate content become more integrated into the fabric of digital marketing.