The saying is true: a picture IS worth a thousand words. That’s why Grand Rapids area company PhotoUp
knows how important images are to a company’s brand and public perception. Founded in 2012, the business provides photo editing solutions to help real estate photographers deliver stunning images that capture the attention of customers. With a team in Grand Rapids and an additional editing team in the Philippines, PhotoUp has experienced substantial growth since it was founded and looks forward to continuing its success in the future.
In order to learn more about the business and the role Grand Rapids plays in its success, we caught up with PhotoUp VP of Marketing, Devon Higgins.
Can you give a short pitch of what your company does?
PhotoUp is a social impact company who focuses on helping photographers grow and scale their business. Through socially responsible editing services and state-of-the-art technology, we
are able to to help photographers shoot more, edit less and spend more time doing what they love. With our team of over 150 employees in the Philippines, our goal is to keep talented young individuals in their country and become positive influences and leaders in their communities.
What role does the city of Grand Rapids play in your company’s identity and culture? Do you think things would have been the same if you’d chosen to start somewhere else?
Grand Rapids has played a critical role in PhotoUp’s success. With the help of startup incubators and entrepreneurial programs such as GR Current, Emerge West Michigan and Start Garden, we have been able to get connected and leverage the resources of the incredible startup community here in Grand Rapids. The Grand Rapids startup and technology scene has definitely flourished in the past few years, and we are thrilled to have been a part of this incredible growth.
I believe that if we had chosen to start/grow PhotoUp in another location, things may have turned out differently. The Grand Rapids community has rallied around PhotoUp and our mission/vision of what a social impact business should look like. Grand Rapids has provided us with the love, support, financial backing and connections that we have needed in order to become a profitable business who is now able to employ over 150 employees worldwide.
What has been your company’s largest challenge so far? How have you/are you able to overcome this?
As with most startups, our largest challenge over the last few years has been the ability to grow/scale our business, while at the same time keeping the culture, values and mission consistent throughout the process. However, we have had the unique challenge of growing a company where a majority of our employees were on the other side of the globe.
To overcome this challenge, we worked with different business leaders, startup coaches, and mentors along the way to make sure that we were able to grow both fast enough to account for demand, and smart enough to continue to keep our core mission and vision alive and well. Grand Rapids has an amazing network of entrepreneurial supporters that have come on this journey with us in order to create a truly beautiful business.
How has your company evolved since it was first founded?
Since founded in 2012, our company has evolved in many ways. The first, and possibly biggest evolution came just one year after launching. During our first year, we had set the business up as an On Demand service, allowing anyone and everyone to send us images for our team to edit. We quickly found out that this was not a sustainable model.
Through the encouragement and persistence of our Creative Director, Dave Stark, we made the decision to move from an On Demand model where we had 250+ client to a subscription model where we went down to 8 clients who were willing to pay us a monthly fee to edit their images. This turned out to be the best decision we could have made. Since then, we have grown to over 100 subscription clients and grown our editing team from 15 employees to 150+ employees.
What is your company’s vision for the next 3 years?
Over the next three years, our goal is to continue to develop additional products and services to help our photographers grow their business. By listening to our current clients, we know that there is a need for additional products/services outside of editing that can be a huge help to photographers. Those types of products/services include:
- Photography Websites
- Real Estate Floor Plans
- Photo Delivery
- Customer Relationship Management
- Email Marketing
By building out these new products and services for photographers, we hope to be a “one-stop-shop” for photographers looking to grow, scale and manage their business.
How would you describe your company’s “core value(s)?”
I have included PhotoUp’s core values and mission below and you can also see them publicly on our website.
PhotoUp’s Mission: To help photographers grow healthy businesses through innovative impact sourcing.
PhotoUp’s Core Values:
PhotoUp is a not-just-for-profit company, which believes our operations should be globally responsible, socially ethical and sustainable long term. Below are the core values that guide our culture & business:
Being a Socially Proactive Business: We believe in a not-just-for-profit business model where traditional business models are combined with philanthropic ideas to help affect positive change and address issues in the developing areas of our world.
Community: We believe giving back to and fostering leadership in the communities in which we work allows us to grow a healthy, sustainable, and beautiful business.
Innovation & Quality: We want to create innovative solutions that help photographers grow healthy businesses while delivering premium quality results in a socially responsible way.
Integrity: We believe in conducting our efforts with honesty and transparency at all levels of our business.
Mutual Respect: Relationships are the foundation of our business and we believe in treating everyone, from fellow employees to our members, with the utmost respect.
Having Fun: We love our jobs! Life is too short not to enjoy the place you work and the people you work with and we aim to foster that attitude in all our offices worldwide.
Partnership: We believe that far more can be accomplished when working together and utilizing people’s strengths than can be accomplished apart, and we aim to foster mutually beneficial partnerships across cultures that can have great benefits for everyone involved.
Thank you PhotoUp for taking the time to chat with us! If your growing business is looking for a partner to help tell your story, check out its website.
Don’t miss the latest and previous editions of our Startup Spotlight Series. Do you have a favorite Michigan startup that we should know about? Tell us in the comments!