Take a look at how Photomadic, a Dallas photo booth company, got their start and how they're shaping the future of the industry.
Who are you and what are you up to?
We're Photomadic, and we rent out our patent pending social media photo booth for various types of events and marketing needs all across the country. Our product lets users create and share branded digital content with their online networks in real time. We believe that experiences make the most impactful impressions, which is why our focus is on creating an amazing experience for the user and allowing them to remember it forever.
We get the opportunity to work with a wide variety of brands and companies including Twitter, AT&T, Red Bull, Microsoft, United Nations, Capital One, Rip Curl, Harper’s Bazaar and many more. Our goal with each client is to deliver a product that creates an authentic, fun experience that effectively showcases their brand image and cultural style.
Our offices are in Dallas but we also have locations in NYC and LA, and we have the ability to remotely service any market in the US and Canada.
Tell us your story.
I started Photomadic in the summer of 2012, but the process started in the winter of 2011, about 6 months after I graduated from SMU. I was a full time photographer trying to make ends meet when I had a client ask if I could provide a photo booth for her party. I told her yes, and I built a functional photo booth out of my photography equipment and my roommate’s TV in about a week. It was nothing like what we use today, but seeing how much everyone enjoyed it sparked my imagination. I ended up committing myself to this project of innovating the photo booth. One thing I was sure about was that it wasn’t going to print after each photo was taken. I wanted it to be extremely interactive and digital.
I taught myself Google SketchUp and spent two straight months on just the design. It was definitely a creative process, and even the general concept was progressive. I didn’t have money to invest, so I designed it around the photography equipment I already had and the software that I could find online and string together. As the design and concept evolved though, I realized I was going to need a little money to build it. I put together a presentation and asked my dad for $3,000. He said yes, something I will always be incredibly grateful for. My dad and I built the first unit in his garage in February 2012.
From there on out it was just a combination of luck, hustle, and determination. Mostly luck. I would say the next most crucial and exciting moment in building the business came earlier this year when I started hiring. I have an amazing small team right now and it makes a world of a difference. The business we are in has a relatively quick sales process for b2b, and our delivery can be pretty complex. So I brought on two sales people, as we’re staying focused on rapid growth, and one manager that holds all the details together and makes sure our service is outstanding. I’m excited for the team to evolve, to face more challenges, and to grow collectively.
What sets you apart from others in your industry?
Photomadic roundRight now we have the advantage of still being the new kids on the block. Our photo booth was designed specifically for social media, so it has several functional advantages that others don’t have, because their design was created for a different purpose.
Other than several unique product features and design advantages, we also have an operations system that has given us a strong advantage over other companies. By utilizing cloud technology, we can “stay small, but deliver large”. We manage all of our units remotely from our Dallas office and use staff across the country to deliver the kiosk to and from events. This lets us beat our competitors’ prices while keeping high profit margins, and it also allows us to provide a better service since we can make real-time changes and offer remote support.
How are things going?
2014 has been an exciting year for us. We’ve gone from 2 units to 17 units, and from operating in one city to successfully operating in three. We’ve had to make a lot of changes to keep up with growth and to prepare us for future growth.
I definitely see this as just the beginning, though. Right now we are more of a product than a company. I want to continue aggressively expanding our photo kiosk operations, but I also want to create new product lines and extend our capabilities. I think there’s a ton of opportunities in capturing unique experiences with branded digital content.
What are your biggest challenges?
The biggest challenge for the business is maintaining consistent growth while ensuring quality in everything we do. We’re so young, but I’m already starting to see us as a fast-paced company who’s always trying to improve and innovate. The problem with innovation and change is that it’s messy. So our challenge is finding the balance of staying progressive and embracing change, while delivering an awesome product with outstanding customer service.
A few years down the line, I think our biggest challenge will be maintaining our reputation for being innovative and new. With a large inventory and operation scale, it would be easy to ride the wave until it disappears, leaving you sinking with no momentum. Think Blockbuster. As we grow our operations, we need to keep in mind that we won’t always be the new kids on the block. How are we going to make big changes when we have 100 units in 10 different cities? It’s something we need to keep in mind and have a plan for as we grow.
What are the two most valuable things you have learned since starting your business?
You need to have structure and strategy. This was really hard for me and I still have to remind myself of it. It just doesn’t fit my personality. But building a business is impossible without focused and strategic efforts. I learned that in order to do that I need to structure my days and develop strategies both short term and long term. Having these things gives you direction and makes you more productive.
Be a sponge and learn from everything. If something is done right or said right, you should learn from it. If something is done wrong or said wrong, you should learn from it. It seems simple, but requires a conscious effort. This has always been instilled in me, but I quickly learned how important it is in business.
What’s your favorite part of your work?
Photomadic xpressThat’s a toss up. I will always love watching people have a blast using the photo booth because I built it. That’s special to me. But the other part that I enjoy more day to day is getting to work with a team that’s so dedicated to the business. From our staff that work events to the people in the office every day, we have the coolest people with so much stoke. Getting to work with them is definitely my favorite part.
Do you get much free time? How do you spend it?
If I have free time I either go climbing at Summit Climbing Gym down on Forest or I spend time reading and studying at Mudsmith on lower Greenville.
Where are you going from here?
We have a lot of potential growth with our current product that we are pursuing pretty aggressively. This includes maximizing our existing markets as well as expanding to new ones. I think within three years we will have regional offices that manage their surrounding cities’ operations.
’m also excited about creating new product lines and additional capabilities. At the core we will still be using digital media to record authentic experiences related to brand images, but we can have different types of capturing options and sharing platforms to meet the needs of various marketing campaigns and activations. Imagine if Nike let you play 1v1 with Lebron James and you instantly had high quality branded media to upload to your social channels. That would be rad, and I think it would be fun develop products to make that possible.
Are you thinking about expanding your team?
Yes we are. We have been on the lookout for a developer and will be hiring a tech manager soon. We’re also looking for more event staff in the Dallas and NYC area. You can email me directly – Tyler@photomadic.com
What is the impact of your business/ industry on your local community? On society?
Everyone loves using our photo booth! Any time you can make people smile and laugh till it hurts, you’re doing something right. We’re happy to say that our product creates and captures a lot smiles every weekend. :)
It’s also nice to have another start-up based in Dallas. I’m really excited that this area is starting to build a reputation as a great start-up community, and I’m thankful to be a part of that. Dallas really is a great place to start a business.
Are you looking for partnership opportunities or additional funding?
Yes we are – Tyler@photomadic.com
What are two mobile apps that you couldn’t work without?
Yikes. I don’t really use mobile apps for too many business purposes. I guess I would say Hotel Tonight for when I’m traveling and Spotify to keep me jamming.