After one spends 15 years in corporate India the mind snaps. Literally! That's when you view the world through the lens for perspective. Shefali Dadabhoy worked in the banking industry before turning her hobby – closet photography – in to a full-fledged business to rediscover her long lost self. In 2008, she launched Purple Frog Photography, a company that specialises in baby and family portraits using natural light.
But it was not until 2015 that she realised there was a business in creating a market place for story telling through photography and video for the corporate world. Photo Concierge was born to serve this need. Every photographer or videographer in India focuses on the wedding market leaving the corporate market untapped by a select few professionals. This was the business opportunity for Shefali.
According to data provided by Netcraft, there are 632 million websites in the world and each one needs at least 23 photos and a video. Globally, the market spends close to $6 billion on photography today and is expected to go to $11 billion by 2020.
“We want our startup to be a one-stop shop for the media requirements of corporates or anyone with a need for storytelling,” says Shefalii, Co-founder of Photo Concierge.
The business model
Say an automobile corporate wants a narrative around their sports cars and they want to access 100 creative ideas; they can come in to the Photo Concierge and put in their requirements to work with 650 photographers and video makers. The price discovery happens on the website and they can chose to work with the photographer who gives an excellent preview of their stipulated work.
“We realised that corporates have a process for everything, but not for digital content,” she says. She adds that they created a "Request" feature on their website, wherein anyone looking for digital content can create a request within their budget and time frame to deliver the content. Contributors will create on-demand creatives to match the requests of corporate. The creators of content get to price their own content. After the corporate previews a part of the work, they then decide to pay the photographer the total quoted price. The payment goes through Photo Concierge who keeps a nominal sum and passes more than 75 per cent to the photographer or media contributor.
Photo Concierge has invested close to $1.5 million and has worked with more than 10 corporates.
The 16-month-old startup wants to become a marketplace for professional photography. They have competition from existing global companies like ShutterStocks and Visual China Group, which has billion dollar valuations. Other key global players are Getty Images and Fotolia that was recently acquired by Adobe at $800 million. However, this will be the first for media creatives either in video or in photography.
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“These kind of businesses should remove complexities and must make it easily accessible to the corporate,” says Udhay Shankar, Head of Axilor - accelerator programme. He adds that a marketing or brand manager, of the corporate, may not have time to spend time with 100 creative ideas and this process should be handled by the platform or the agency.
There are over 1,00,000 professional photographers and videographers in India and there are several amateurs who are trying to make a buck. These amateurs can test their skills on a platform like Photo Concierge and work with the requirements of over two million companies that are active in their business communications.
“On demand models are plenty. The question is, are they being discovered faster,” says R. Natarajan, CFO of Helion Ventures.
The technology platform built by Photo Concierge will focus on region-specific needs and will also connect global needs to local media producers. It's a model that can work best for businesses looking for talent across the spectrum. The only challenge for Photo Concierge is to be able to provide enough business for photographers to participate on its platform consistently.