Lookstat has relaunched its website yesterday, wednesday the 15th with a new range of services for microstock photographers. Initially an analysis tool for photographers with images on multiple platforms Lookstat is now focussing on tools for keywording, uploading and submitting images to microstock agencies. I talked to Rahul Pathak, CEO of Lookstat one day after the launch to find out more about their plans.
You started with the analytics tool which ran into some logistical problems. After a quiet period you came back with his new set of tools. Would you say there was a bit of a false start?
In fact, it was always part of the plan to focus on workflow. Analytics is normally the final part of the mix. We started the analytics tool with 3 supported sites. We then had to drop one. We will now continue to work on analytics. I believe the trend is for sites to become more open, not closed. This will give us the opportunity to report on more sites over time. We will also work to keep analytics relevant without all data. The ultimate goal is to provide insight into what shoots generate the most revenue.
It has been a bit quiet over the past months. What have you been up to?
We have been working a lot on the new products and went to Beta in April. We also secured an investment of $500.000. This allowed us to invest in building the system and hiring a development and production team. We have also started to work with free-lancers. All work is done in-house which has allowed us to control the process and ensure the quality we need.
What made you decide to start the company in the first place?
I am not an active photographer myself but I did have an interest in it. The microstock model got my attention through Adam Brotman, who is now Chairman of the board (ed: Adam was a senior vice-president at Corbis). I have known Adam for years and a casual conversation led to a deeper exploration. I was fascinated with an industry where the image-count had been going up consistently. On top of that, contrary to the rest of the industry, microstock revenue per downloads had been going up. This was a nugget that we couldn’t deny.
Who is the product for?
For every existing microstock photographer and for a growing group of photographers coming from Rights Managed and Royalty Free who are interested in shooting for microstock. We really want to enable photographers to create more great images while we take care of everything else. Doing the preparation yourself will take a lot of effort and involvement, from the selection of an image to it finally being online. This is not great for creatives wanting to focus on shooting images. There are a few other tools that photographers can use but they still have a high workload. The alternative is hiring people to do it which is costly.
How are you communicating the new products?
We only launched and have just started to communicate about this. People know each other in this industry and we got a lot of word of mouth. We were fortunate enough to meet the right people as well and have a few fans in the industry.
How is the product priced?
The product is a la carte and can be purchased in a number of personalised ways. This means right now the set up is fairly high touch and involves a conversation with our clients. For example, some clients may not need all their images keyworded and that’s fine.
The price is fixed for every image that goes through the system. We will not take a royalty cut. We are a technology and service provider and our revenue model reflects that.
What are your plans from now to the end of the year?
We want to build out the backoffice and exceed expectations on the range of services. We will also look outside of microstock. On the analytics tool we want to expand the range of sites that participate and expand the product. We will be critical on where we will allocate dollars. Return on investment (ROI) will be critical.
And what about the long term?
We haven’t looked into the future that much. In general, with the industry in turmoil, there will be opportunities for companies that keep a lookout for change. We will keep focussed on helping photographers do what they do best. More specifically we also want to track sales of individual images that sell in multiple places. In the long term everything will revolve around the ROI on a shoot. There is often a mismatch about peoples’ perception about what’s a good shoot and the images actually selling. The holy grail is the ability to be predictive and have the ability to see what images to shoot now that will sell in the future.