New Startup Aims to Revolutionize the Way You Manage Your Photography Business

New Startup Aims to Revolutionize the Way You Manage Your Photography Business

There is a new cat in town and it's roaring like a lion. PICR is a startup from Portland, Oregon that promises to make your life as a photographer easier. They have created a platform for photographers that could build a bridge between the potential consumer and the service provider. An online agent of sorts. Can they really deliver?

PICR was launched in early November and there are, for the moment, 20,000 photographers who signed up for the pre-launch. It's a huge number for a service that is not yet up and running and it shows how much photographers dream of spending less time on marketing and client research. That common dream makes us a particular type of consumer that has yet to find the right offer. 

PICR will start operating in Portland, and plans to expand rapidly across the U.S. in their first year of activity. If things go well they are considering an international venture in the future. 

So what are they selling? The first promise is to bring the clients to you. PICR is announcing that they will do the heavy lifting. In exchange for a commission fee (10–15 percent of the work booked through the platform) they want to use their marketing assets to bring clients to the platform.They will start off by targeting clients that have needs in portraiture, weddings, and other standard photography requests, so all local business at the beginning, with the goal to reach national brands in the future.

The second promise is a set of powerful management tools for a hassle free booking system, including an integrated calendar that will allow photographers to keep track of their planned sessions and define their schedule depending on their availability, as well as a messaging system allows them to communicate with the clients directly without having to keep track of contact details.

The cherry on the cake is photographers will set their own prices and will be paid in advance for their work (when I read that one, I almost fell off my chair; it’s kind of unheard of in the industry)!

Yes, you need to pass the bouncers at the door. Any photographer that signs up will need to present their work to the team at PICR. So your portfolio will be vetted by other photographers as they only take professionals. That said, the criteria doesn't seem to be too rigid: as long as they see that a photographer has an understanding of basic photographic principles, has quality post production techniques, and is able to produce quality work consistently is good to go. So it should not be an approbation of style but a validation of technique.

Is this too good to be true? Not necessarily. The fact that they have already 20,000 applicants, without actual activity to show for, underlines that there is serious demand for this type of service. The PICR team has six photographers on staff for the moment, they do focus groups and they often reach out to local photographers for feedback and thoughts on ideas they have on the marketplace. So their platform should be as close to photographers expectations as possible. Hence the future of their project will not depend on the photographers enlisted but on the clients they manage to attract. Let's wish them well. We can always use some extra clients.

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53 Comments

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Thanks for the response Scott. The blog post eludes to having only so much time and money to make the business work which gives potential users the wrong impression.

I'd have a discussion with your team about using Airbnb and Uber so frequently in your marketing and sales spiel. Both of those tech companies have very negative press currently and have come to represent the exploitation of workers and neighbourhoods under the guise of "the sharing economy."

It's a good idea and could work if you have the resources to scale. I'd also consider adding video to your offerings as many photographers are being pressured to offer video to stay competitive. This has been my experience with mid range clients across the board.

Scott Hoffman's picture

No worries, Nigel. Our media team is building video as we speak. :)

Rather than having to wait 14-18 months, it would have been much nicer if you could have answered some of my questions now.

I think every photographer in business asks the question "What is a new client worth to me?" But that question really isn't relevant here. We all have our budgets for marketing, for bringing in new clients. The question actually is why should we spend our budget for marketing with you?

PICR isn't continuing to add features at the moment. As far a we know it literally doesn't have any features. It apparently will run my entire back office. The software that actually runs my back office at the moment, Xero, currently has a staff of 1300 people in 20 offices around the world. And its taken them 9 years to get there, and have barely started to touch the US market. Yet you think you will be in NZ in 14 months? Seriously? With 22 staff? After only a few months of software development?

You've spoken to plenty of photographers and you've got 20,000 "signed up". But how many consumers are lining up, desperate for a service that will help them connect to photographers? How many consumers have you signed up? What is your plan to compete with "wedding photographer portland" pasted into a google search?

A small scale local launch, with low overheads, to test the market, scale expansion sensibly and to pivot where required may well have worked. But there are no signs you are the next Uber.

I asked a similar question on the discussion board about where clients are coming from. Here was their vague answer,
"We have a robust marketing strategy including social media, commericals, various ads, etc. We are aiming at personal and commercial sectors and the strategy is specific to each specialty and city. We don't see ourselves expanding to video in the near future simply because we want to ensure that this is the best platform for photography first. Thanks for asking, stay in touch!"

Scott Hoffman's picture

I'll try to answer this by taking the role of a consumer. Currently, if I don't know a photographer and can't find a solid referral from my circle, I'm limited to the search engines or CL. This means hours of back and forth, no common way to compare and contrast and the always-present possibility of a scam. We solve that and we are spending 75+% of my team's time and budget putting the simplicity of PICR in front of consumers. I won't expand too far into details,for the sake of space, but an example of this is testing and then serving ads on social platforms for attributes that show in people's profiles or comments. Our testing has clearly found sweet spots in almost every photographic specialty. In addition, we will shift from sharing outside images on our social platforms to sharing the images from PICR photographers that can "click back" to that photographer's profile. For us, it's about connecting the right consumer with the right photographer. Many of our efforts are non-digital or won't scale, but allow us to connect with consumers directly and it's incredible how many share a photographer horror story that has everything to do with FINDING a pro. If you have a specific consumer marketing question beyond what I've posted here, just ask!! :)

Shannon Duffy's picture

I'll be interested to see how this company's success pans out since 1) I'm based in Portland, Oregon and 2) this comment section is on fire lololololol.

Anonymous's picture

Scott - if you're still replying, I'm confused. I signed up and got 4 referrals. I even reserved a custom domain. But after going back, It's treating me like a new person. I never got any kind of login information so I have no idea what my password is. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!

Scott Hoffman's picture

I am, Mark. When we launch in a couple weeks and as we grow across the country and globe, photographers who have signed up will receive log-in instructions, plus support for setting up their profiles. At the moment, no photog has a user name and password.

Anonymous's picture

Oh ok great. Just making sure I wasn't missing something. Thank you so much for the response :)

Chris Adval's picture

"Any photographer that signs up will need to present their work to the team at PICR. So your portfolio will be vetted by other photographers as they only take professionals."... I don't get it... "professional" is highly debated, so I'd assume this will be defined by PICR specifically right? Professional level in craft or professional by simply having a business license and state registration by the state the person who runs/owns the business (for US)?

Scott Hoffman's picture

Great question. We are currently working with professionally certified photographic judges to develop the standards list for acceptance to PICR. Although we are not looking for competition quality, we are looking for a clear and basic understanding of photographic principles as supported by the industry. Once completed, these guidelines will be available for anyone to read.

Chris Adval's picture

This looks like more of a S&B format, not too sure an IPS format would work here. Also for commercial will be very tough to work out corporations are and doubt will ever pay forward and pass their general 30 day - 90 day payment methods. I'll be watching though.

Scott Hoffman's picture

It's a great thought, Chris. We have spoken with large corps and have heard answers on both sides, so we'll see. :)

Jacques Cornell's picture

Wow, lots of hate and suspicion about a service that's not active yet. Why not hold fire and see what happens? I've had mixed experiences with sites promising gig leads - some are worthless, some have potential - but I'm all for a service that can connect me to new clients for a 10%-15% commission if there aren't fat fees up front.

Scott Hoffman's picture

No upfront fees, fat or otherwise. :)

Doubting and questioning must not be equate with hate and suspicion. It's an interest that leads to question and it works both ways. It surely helps to a new venture to fine tune and getting more realistic. One thing is very sure that no one can question their transparency. They don't hide their failures..it's there (http://startuplabs.com/blog/) for everyone to check, to learn, to believe or to discard them.
having said that still there seem to be a lack of info and transparency on this new business model.

Scott Hoffman's picture

Pradip, ask any question you might have about our business model and I'll be happy to answer it. :)

Must admit that it's quite an unique and fascinating to come across such transparent venture and for that one reason one wants to see u get succeeded Scott.
Now, some questions..
1. What's the budget for PICR?
2. What's the current balance sheet?
3. There is all info on all abandoned(failing fast) project but not on your successful "Affiliated marketing" business.not even a name!
4. Are U going to be transparent or do u feel need to rethink?
5. Could you elaborate more on video and/or multimedia offering? Thanks

Did ask and almost after a week still waiting for your response Scott. Even four day week can't be an excuse now!

Pradip, thank you for your questions, but I think you misunderstand what transparency means in the realm of business. It is a fact that our business model is far more transparent than many others and we do this voluntarily as we openly write about our lessons and mistakes. But no one regards transparency to require a complete accounting before inquisitive strangers. If you would like to know specific details about the other businesses of our CEO, you can write to him personally at vitaliy at picr dot com. In short, we have enough funding to execute PICR well, and we are here to serve photographers not scam them. We understand the tendency to be skeptical in an age of failed startups, that is your right, but don't forget to give the benefit of the doubt before writing someone off completely. Finally, we will not be supporting videography because it would require us to accommodate to a different workflow and thereby weaken our photographer support. During December we are alpha testing locally and starting January we will be launched in Portland OR. Stay tuned for updates. -Paul Mikhaylenko (Co-founder and CPO)

Fair enough Paul. If I may pointed out then you started putting out balance sheet and complete accounting info and now not to continue with that is fine and understandable.
Must appreciate your continuing transparent communication and out of the box approach. Will eagerly wait for successful launch and future updates.

I give credit for Scott Hoffman for answering all the questions but to be honest Im still not convinced about this company's platform nor idea. #LOL #Fail

Jacques Cornell's picture

Seems unfair to tag #LOL #Fail at this early stage. #MrNegative.