In the beginning was the picture
How many times have you thought yourself that there should be this product or offer? With the beginning of 20, as a graduate in IT, I had many different business ideas. A series of more or less successful ones Company I had already launched before I got the idea for Shutterstock.
Websites, presentations, ads, no matter what I was working on at the time, I needed strong images to get the attention of my customers, but also to ensure that my ideas and products also arouse the interest of their customers.
Market gaps good, affordable images
As a young founder, however, I faced the challenge, which many start-ups know: I could only have a rather small budget. So the pictures I needed had to be not only really good but also affordable.
Parallel to the IT, my passion was already at the time of photography and so I use my own pictures for projects, but I did not have all the designs I could have used.
Crowdsourcing - strong together
Knowing that there are others and the IT skills I had in a hands-on experience, I developed the Shutterstock online marketplace. Here, I first offered 30.000 my own pictures, but at the same time tried to get other photographers excited about making their portfolio accessible to a wider audience through my platform - today we are more than 40.000 artists worldwide.
Important in this model is that we allow the artist to keep the rights to their work. We offer them a global platform to reach new customers. The second special feature is that all pictures cost the same and users buy via an subscription model with us. That brings you some cost control.
Become a manager
From a one-man show, Shutterstock has grown to a team of more than 250 full-time employees in just ten years. I was very careful with the selection of new employees and it is still today.
The challenge is to find people who have the same entrepreneurial spirit and want to make a difference. Precisely because we work in an industry that offers a lot of inspiration with its artists and fascinating imagery but also requires its own creativity, a working atmosphere in which ideas can emerge is important to me.
An enterprise culture that inspires
This is sometimes a real balancing act, because in a growing company you have to make sure that everyone is up to date, but you can not get involved in too many meetings.
We therefore keep the teams working on certain projects rather small, so that they can adapt themselves in the shortest possible way and remain relatively self-sufficient. In big round we meet at regular but longer intervals.
Yes, and once a year, we host the so-called "hackathon," where all 24 work hours on solutions and ideas that they consider important - something crazy, practical, or otherwise.
Here, everyone can live out and create a very special, creative mood. It is fascinating what the teams are doing in this short time.
Inspired by the customers
What has worked well with digital imagery should also improve access to expertise. That's why we created 2013 Skillfeed, an online platform based on the Shutterstock principle. By subscription, creative professionals and IT experts will be able to enjoy a wide range of high-quality video courses on a variety of topics and at affordable cost.
The idea developed in exchange with our customers. They were always looking for new sources to improve their skills or to learn certain tricks without taking expensive courses or sitting in front of a specialist book for hours.
Success is the product prior error
But after two years, we had to realize that the concept did not work out: Skillfeed just did not get as successful as Shutterstock. In part, this may have been due to competitors such as Udemy or Lynda. Perhaps the need for online video training is far from as robust as stock images.
That's part of it: I'm constantly trying to challenge myself anew. It is important not to step on the spot, but to keep evolving. Learning is a process of constant small changes. You make mistakes, learn from them and then continue. The success of Shutterstock is ultimately the result of previous mistakes.
More about Jon Oringer in our four-part interview series.
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