Looking for that ultra-sexy flyover video of your business? Shootly is the mobile app to shoot for. Dubbed the "Uber of photography and droneography," Cofounder and CEO Garrett Henricksen says he already has more than 25 photographers and a dozen drone pilots ready to meet your photography needs.
Whether you’re a real estate agent looking for the flyover money shot, an event planner looking to show off the glitz from tonight’s red carpet production or just a regular joe looking for someone to take your family’s annual portrait for your holiday card, Shootly’s goal is to match users with photographers and/or drone pilots on either a last-minute or planned-ahead basis, at a reasonable rate that makes all parties happy.
Launched in Nov. 2015, Shootly came about as a result of Henricksen and his cofounder coincidentally being asked several times in one week about a last-minute photographer for events and real estate videos. While the business is only in L.A. presently, it will soon launch in San Francisco, New York and Miami, with the team continuing to build up the network of photographers and drone pilots.
PYMNTS got Henricksen’s take on the business, what this means for “Uber of X” and why video content is now king.
PYMNTS: Give us the history on Shootly. How did this all come together?
GH: Shootly is a mobile app for on-demand professional photography and droneography, which is also known as aerial videography. As for how it came together, my cofounder and I have a background in tech and always wanted to throw an idea together. We also both share a hobby in photography and have a lot of photographer friends. It didn't really hit us that we wanted to start this business until one week in fall 2014, where a bunch of our friends and acquaintances asked if we had any photographer friends that could shoot for some events and a real estate gig, because some photographers had backed out at the last minute. It was just coincidental that, in a span of one week, it was three or four times that we got asked separately. So, we thought that was interesting.
When we started researching online to see if there is a business that can come out of this, we saw Craigslist, Yelp, Thumbtack, but we didn't see one mobile solution that just concentrated on photography. We started to question: Where is there a real business and a real need for hiring for a photographer? We noticed that a real estate agent that has a $1 million listing coming up, they need to hire a professional photographer. And, obviously, in Los Angeles, where we live, there's an event every night that is put on by production teams and planners who need to hire a photographer. We also noticed that drones were becoming popular with sports, with events and especially real estate, because not only is it unique and sexy footage but it gives an accurate representation of the house and the property that these real estate agents are trying to sell. So, we didn't find one mobile solution that existed out there.
In Dec. 2014, we started with putting together the app screens and wireframes, and then, we hired a developer team that was affordable. At that point, it was April 2015, and then, it took all summer to build it out and build out our network of photographers and drone pilots. We launched into the Apple App Store in Nov. 2015.
PYMNTS: What does "Uber of X" mean to you?
GH: We are the Uber of photography and droneography. "Uber of X" means to me the ability to get something at your fingertips, with a few clicks of your mobile phone.
Our whole goal with all of this is: 1) to make sourcing of photography and finding a drone pilot as easy as possible; 2) to get people content in an easy and affordable way. Whether you're building a website or selling a house, content is at the heart of everything, and you want to make sure people have an easy way to hire a quality, professional photographer or drone pilot on-demand.
PYMNTS: How much funding has Shootly received?
GH: We're bootstrapped. We've raised a little bit from friends and family.
PYMNTS: Let's walk through the app. Can you explain the interface and how it works for each user?
GH: Just like Uber, you log into the app and choose the category in which you wish to hire a photographer or a drone pilot for. We offer four categories: Real Estate, Events, Portraits and Sports. Once the customer chooses a category, they then choose the date, time and location that they'd like the photographer or drone pilot to arrive. They can add in any other details that they'd like their photographer or drone pilot to know. Then, they just submit the session. So, it's just similar to Uber in that it is very easy to book. On the photographer or drone pilot side, they would receive the session request with the details, including a profile photo of the customer, and then, based on their schedule and interest in the job, they can accept it and then have the ability to contact the customer to go over any other details. Shootly takes a 20 percent cut of the transaction.
PYMNTS: Let's talk turkey. How does everyone get paid?
GH: As for price, we actually set the hourly rates through the app. We wanted to streamline it and make it as easy as possible for the customers to hire a photographer, so there's not a lot of back and forth over negotiation. We surveyed over 100 photographers and got hourly rates and formulated the Shootly rates based on those surveyed photographers. So, photographers one week they're super busy with a lot of jobs. And there's another week where they're not making anything. So, we kind of presented this to them as "Hotel Tonight meets Uber." We said basically, "Hey, if you're not working on a gig or doing something, would you be willing to take a job that it is discounted?" They all said yes. So, it is discounted hourly pricing. They know it's not perhaps their normal rate, but we're throwing two to three or more jobs their way, and they're typically willing to take the discounted rate.
PYMNTS: What's the biggest hurdle you've had with being a startup?
GH: Customer acquisition, I would say. Being bootstrapped has forced us to be creative, which is great. We don't have a lot of money to throw at advertising. But it's also more of a B2B game, so it's a sales game. It's partnering with as many real estate agents as possible, as many event production teams as possible. So, that would be our biggest challenge, because it's too costly to go B2C.
PYMNTS: As for similar businesses, are you seeing competitors?
GH: Yes and no. There's Craigslist, Yelp and Thumbtack. There's a drone app platform, which is more Airbnb style. So, there's definitely a few businesses out there and photography forums. But definitely, we have not seen a mobile solution to hire a photographer and a drone pilot.