Lensa app review: Are Lensa AI avatars worth the cost in 2023?

What is the Lensa app?

Lensa AI is a magic avatar generator app for iOS and Android that lets you create colorful, custom AI portraits of yourself. It takes less than 30 minutes to get a collection of 50+ avatars that are customized based on selfie images that you upload to the app.

First, my Lensa app review

Rating: 3 out of 5.

3 out of 5 stars. The avatars weren’t bad, but also not great. 96% of the images were mediocre at best. However, I did like 2 out of the 50 images that I paid $3.99 for. Considering that it’s a 4K resolution piece of digital art hat I can now use as an avatar, I suppose it could have been worse. That’s about $2 for each digital photo, so I can’t say that I was totally scammed.

My favorite generated avatar.
My second favorite generated avatar.

There are other cartoon-ify avatar generators that I’ve had better experiences with, such as Wonder. If you’re not interested in spending money on these yet, I recommend taking a look free apps with limited styles, like Snow or Beautycam.

Getting the avatars set up

In all, it took about 20 minutes to get from app installation to a folder of 50 avatars. It was about 5 minutes to set up, configure styles, and select selfies as training inputs. From there, it took approximately 15 minutes to generate the avatars.

22 styles across three categories of realism.

Here’s a step-by-step look at how I created my avatars with the Lensa app:

  1. Sign up for a free 7-day trial to access the Magic Avatars feature.
  2. Choose some styles. You can pick from 22 styles across the categories Essential, Art, and Time Machine.
  3. Upload 10-20 selfies. Online guides suggest avoiding any face coverings, including hands that might be touching the face, since it impacts the training.
  4. Choose to pay $3.99 for 50 generated images (10 styles) or $6.99 for 100 generated images. 50 sounded like a lot, so I went with 50 (though afterwards seeing how wildly in accurate and gross some of the photos were, I wish I had more options to choose from).
  5. Hit the “generate” button, and it takes between 15-20 minutes for the images to finish.
  6. You’ll see your pack generated, which you can download all at once in 4k or hi-res files. You can also download files individually.

Best and worst styles, according to my results

Before I share the rank ordering, I wanted to share that the biggest problem I observed in the worst style packs was that I think Lensa is probably missing training data for Asian faces. I found the more creative styles, such as Iridescent, Pop, and Comics to be grossly incorrect.

Stylish pack – looks very generic. Don’t know how this was trained using my selfies.
Comics style – doesn’t look like me. feature proportions are off, like the eye shapes.
Anime style – doesn’t look like me. feature proportions are off, especially the eyes.

Most accurate style: Cosmic

This was a bit surprising, since I assumed “Cosmic” would be a bit more abstract. But these avatars looked more like me than any of the other styles.

Most aesthetic: Iridescent

While the first two images don’t look like me at all, they’re still high quality, ethereal styles.

Most creative: Pop

Aside from the bottom right square that is just a cleaned up version of the selfie I submitted, these were unique, art-like renditions.

Most generically bad: Anime

These are so generic that you’d think I just randomly found these pictures while searching online. There are no indications that they were generated from my photos.

Most inaccurate: Focus

None of these look like me. Maybe slightly if I squint, but I look at it and feel terrified at how bizarre these are.

Don’t forget to check the privacy policy and the terms of use

Before you rush to download the app and start generating avatars, keep in mind that as consumers, we’re entering a whole new era of privacy and data rights management around the images that we entrust with generative AI companies. If this is something that you care about, make sure you understand the details in their privacy policy and terms of use to understand what the app does with your selfies, data, and generated images.

The untold story of startup success: building a company starts as a sidegig

It’s a common misconception that successful startups are born out of a single-minded focus and an all-consuming passion. We tell the story of founders who “make the leap” and give up everything – sell their house, move into a small apartment, work out of a garage – and end up believing that it’s 100% in or else there’s no hope for building a successful company. In reality, many of the most successful startups were started as side projects by founders who were full-time students or had day jobs.

Take Airbnb, for example – it was founded by three friends who were struggling to pay rent in San Francisco. They started renting out air mattresses in their apartment to local conference attendees, and the idea eventually grew into a billion-dollar company.

Even take Slack as another example, started as an internal tool for a gaming company called Tiny Speck. The founders realized that their tool could be useful for other companies, and Slack was born.

You might be surprised that Google falls into this pattern as well. Google, as one of the largest technology companies in the world, was started as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were PhD students at Stanford.

The point is that so many of the successful startups you know and love weren’t created as full-time endeavors. They were born out of a need or a passion that founders pursued in their evenings and weekends, often while working full-time jobs.

This contrarian view is important for traditional venture capitalists to consider, because it challenges the conventional wisdom that founders are only good if they have full commitment. That becomes true later, but if we didn’t have the explorers who were willing to build in their evenings, then we wouldn’t have a lot of the innovative companies that we have today. We tend to look for startup founders with single-minded focus and a team that is 100% committed to building a product. But the reality is that many successful startups start out as side gigs.

I’m really excited to look for startups that don’t fit the mold of a traditional full-time company. With trends like “The Great Betrayal” and full-time work looking less attractive, I’m willing to bet that we’ll see a huge wave of part-time entrepreneurs, some of whom will merely dabble, others becoming solopreneurs, but also some will build the the next biggest companies. You never know where the next billion-dollar idea may come from.

30 software legends that started part-time

There’s a much, much longer list that isn’t captured on the Internet, but for starters, here’s a list of 30 software companies that you’ve probably heard of that were started as side projects:

  1. Microsoft: Bill Gates and Paul Allen started Microsoft while they were still in high school, and continued to work on the company as a part-time venture while attending college.
  2. Amazon: Jeff Bezos started Amazon as an online bookseller while working as a senior vice president at a hedge fund.
  3. Google: Larry Page and Sergey Brin started working on the search engine that would become Google while they were Ph.D. students at Stanford University.
  4. Slack: Stewart Butterfield and his team started working on the team communication tool while they were still working on a different project, and continued to work on Slack as a side project until it became a full-time venture.
  5. Dell: Michael Dell started building personal computers in his college dorm room as a part-time venture before eventually quitting school to start Dell Inc. full-time.
  6. Apple – Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created the first Apple computer in Jobs’ parents’ garage while working full-time jobs.
  7. Airbnb – Founders Brian Chesky, Nathan Blecharczyk, and Joe Gebbia started renting out air mattresses in their apartment to conference attendees as a way to make extra money.
  8. WhatsApp – Co-founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton created WhatsApp while working as engineers at Yahoo.
  9. Dropbox – Drew Houston started developing the first version of Dropbox while working full-time at a startup called Accolade.
  10. Evernote – Phil Libin, Stepan Pachikov, and Dave Engberg started Evernote as a part-time project while working at other companies.
  11. Hootsuite – Ryan Holmes started Hootsuite as a side project while running a digital agency.
  12. Wunderlist – Christian Reber started developing Wunderlist while working full-time as a designer.
  13. Twitter – Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams created Twitter while working on another startup called Odeo.
  14. Atlassian – Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar started Atlassian while studying at the University of New South Wales.
  15. WordPress – Matt Mullenweg started developing WordPress as a side project while working as a consultant.
  16. Trello – Joel Spolsky and Michael Pryor created Trello as a way to manage their own projects more efficiently.
  17. MailChimp – Ben Chestnut started MailChimp as a side project while running a web design company.
  18. Salesforce: Marc Benioff started Salesforce as a part-time venture while he was still working as an executive at Oracle.
  19. Hubspot: Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah started Hubspot as a part-time venture while they were still professors at MIT.
  20. Asana: Justin Rosenstein and Dustin Moskovitz started Asana as a part-time project while they were still working at Facebook.
  21. Freshdesk: Girish Mathrubootham started Freshdesk as a part-time project while he was still working as a product manager at Zoho.
  22. Basecamp: Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson started Basecamp as a part-time venture while they were still working as consultants.
  23. Airtable: Howie Liu, Andrew Ofstad, and Emmett Nicholas started Airtable as a part-time project while they were still working at various tech companies.
  24. Canva: Melanie Perkins, Cliff Obrecht, and Cameron Adams started Canva as a part-time project while they were still students.
  25. Pipedrive: Timo Rein and Davide De Guzman started Pipedrive as a part-time venture while they were still working as consultants.
  26. Heroku – James Lindenbaum, Adam Wiggins, and Orion Henry started Heroku as a part-time project while working at different companies.
  27. Typeform: Robert Finn and David Okuniev started Typeform as a part-time project while they were still working as designers.
  28. Adobe – John Warnock and Chuck Geschke started Adobe as a part-time project while working at Xerox.
  29. Red Hat – Bob Young and Marc Ewing started Red Hat as a part-time project while working at Cornell University.
  30. Grammarly – Alex Shevchenko and Max Lytvyn started Grammarly as a part-time project while studying at UC Berkeley.

Use Python to study foreign language vocabulary on your Desktop (aka “digital flashcards”) – Python code included

Are you studying a foreign language, such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, French, etc., and want an easier way to quiz yourself? Look no further, I’ve written a Python flashcards program that cuts through all of the complex designs and ads so you can study locally on your computer in peace.

Flash Cards Python Program Demo

Download Python and CSV files

I’ve included the Python script here. You’ll be directed to Google Drive, where you’ll be able to safely down the .py file. I’ve also included a CSV template sample so you can ensure that you’re using the right headings to run the code.

If you have any questions on how to use the code or feedback on how I can improve it, shoot me a note as I’d love to hear from you!

How to Backup WeChat Files, Chat History, and Contacts List (Screenshots Included)

For whatever reason, you may be looking to backup, download, or export your WeChat (微信)files, chat logs, or contacts. After scouring the Internet for hours, I wasn’t able to find comprehensive tutorials for my needs, so I decided to pull together these step-by-step instructions to help those who are facing similar problems. Without further ado, here are the best ways I found to backup my WeChat profile data:

3 Ways to Backup WeChat Data
  1. For chat history and files: Use WeChat’s PC App or Mac Desktop App to store logs on computer (for device to device transfer only)
  2. For chat history, files, contacts, or moments: Request personal data backup files (EU, US only)
  3. For chat history and files: Use third party desktop apps

For chat history and files: Use Wechat’s PC/Mac Desktop App to store logs on computer (for device to device transfer only)

Time: 15 minutes+, depending on how much chat history and file data you have
Preparation: Laptop (WeChat PC or Mac Desktop App), Phone (iOS or Android WeChat App)
Cost: Free

  1. Go to Wechat’s official site to download the Mac or Windows version of the Desktop app.
  2. Open the Desktop App and scan with your WeChat phone App to log in.

4. Once you’ve logged in, find the menu icon at the bottom left corner and click ‘Backup and Restore’.

5. Choose ‘Back up on Mac’ to store the files within the Desktop app on your computer.

6. Take out your Phone and follow on-screen guidance to ‘Backup All’, or select specific chat records that you want to save. This process will take you anywhere from a few minutes to hours, depending on how much data your chat logs have (i.e. image files, large attachments, etc). Keep both the computer and phone Apps open the entire time, or else the backup process will pause.

7. That’s it! The data is now stored on your Desktop WeChat. When you need to restore this data to a new phone or mobile device, just log in to the Desktop App, go into ‘Backup and Restore’ and choose ‘Restore on Phone’.

For chat history, files, contacts, or moments: Request personal data backup files (EU, US only)

Time: 10-15 minutes
Preparation: Phone only (iOS or Android WeChat App)
Cost: Free

  1. Open your iOS or Android WeChat App
  2. Go to ‘Me’ → ‘Settings’ → ‘More Settings’ → ‘Export Personal Data’

3. You’ll meet one of two scenarios:

A) If you haven’t linked your Wechat to an email address, you’ll need to verify your email first before you can request a personal data export:

B) If you’ve already linked and verified an email address, click ‘OK’ to begin the data request process. IMPORTANT: Do not close this Wechat window – minimize the App to check your email, and then come back to this screen. The email verification must happen while this window is running. If you click out of this screen, you’ll have to start the process over again. You’ll receive the verification email in your inbox about 2-5 minutes later.

After you click ‘OK’ in the email and see the success screen, go back to the App, where you’ll see that your email was successfully verified. Click ‘Next’.

4. Select which data types you want to export. Hit ‘Next’ to begin the data request process.

5. You’re done! Depending on how large the data file is, it can take up to 72 hours to receive an email with the data download link. You’ll need to open the email on your Desktop, and the download link will expire in 72 hours from the time it was generated. Note that the downloaded data is all stored in (.js) extension files, so you’ll need a way to parse through that.

Wechat data page must be opened in a Desktop browser to download.

For chat history and files: Use third party desktop Apps for backup

Time: 30 minutes or more
Preparation: Laptop, Phone
Cost: Depends on App (Free, $10-$50 is the typical range I’ve seen)

Of the three featured backup methods, this is the least consistently effective one. There are dozens of third-party software providers out there that claim to backup Wechat files, but depending on whether the original developers have updated their software, version compatibility, and many other reasons, the experience will be less reliable. Do your research prior to purchasing and make sure that other users can vouch for a positive experience (you can do by searching for user reviews on Google, Reddit, etc). I do not endorse any of the following options, but am laying out some options that I came across in my research:

  • MobileTrans – Backup Wechat history and account contacts to a PC before transferring to another mobile device. The same developers also created dr.fone, which offers similar functionality on their website.
  • iCloud – Backup your iPhone (for iOS users) including WeChat data, and you’ll be able to reinstate all of your chat history and contacts after you log into iCloud on a different mobile device.

Anything else?

That’s it! I hope one of the methods above worked for you. If not, do not fret – there are alternative (but less straight forward) ways to backup your data, including several that require reading the Chinese language. If none of the above worked for you, send me a message and I’ll help recommend an alternative solution.