Startup Spotlight: Dubai-Based Flashy Aims To Become A Market Leader In The Commercial Brand Photography Domain
Flashy provides professional product/service photography for e-commerce businesses as well as those that operate in the F&B, hospitality, events, and real estate sectors.
This article is part of our ongoing series on companies under the umbrella of Dubai-based in5, an enabling platform for tech, media, and design startups.
Have you ever purchased something online without having taken a single peek at the product's images? Or have you perhaps ever decided to order a takeaway without first looking at what the food looks like?
For the modern-day consumer, the chances of such occurrences happening are incredibly slim. "We have seen that professional visual content makes a huge difference for businesses across a range of distinct verticals," says Jacopo Trinca, co-founder of Dubai-based commercial photography startup Flashy. "53% of users of restaurant booking platform Tripadvisor won't make a reservation if the restaurant does not have professional imagery. Amazon also stated in a recent report that more than 65% of online buyers value the product image quality more than any other information in the reviews or description."
The statistics that Trinca shares constitute a small portion of a list that, as he himself admits, "goes on." But in late 2019, Trinca and his co-founder Aidan Christofferson recognized a related issue pertinent to businesses in the UAE. "To put it simply, buying photography is hard," says Christofferson. "You have thousands of different photographers offering different services, with varying service-level agreements, and inconsistent pricing and deliverables. At a time when content is so important and widely consumed, creating professional content at scale seemed so hard! So, we finally took the leap in July 2021, and have been growing Flashy ever since."
The co-founders say that they decided to take the plunge into entrepreneurship given their shared "deep love for contemporary art and photography," despite their career backgrounds in finance and tech. Their dedication to the craft is perhaps best reflected in how only 7% of the photographers who apply to the Flashy platform get selected. "We extensively consider photographers' past experience and portfolios when considering them for the platform- every single photographer is individually vetted," explains Christofferson. "Since July, I've personally spoken to over 600 creatives across the GCC. These conversations have also given us great insight into how to better build our platform to address the problems experienced by both our customers and our photographers."
Flashy co-founders Aidan Christofferson and Jacopo Trinca
In terms of its offering, Flashy provides professional product/service photography for e-commerce businesses as well as those that operate in the F&B, hospitality, events, and real estate sectors. Its key selling point is that the startup offers its customers the option to book, shoot, and receive market-ready images within 24 hours. "We help all sizes of customers- from restaurants who need the occasional menu shoot for food aggregators, and social media to realtors looking to capture thousands of units a year, and improve their conversion rates over their competitors!" says Christofferson. "If there's a product to be captured, we can do it. We want our customers to forget about this content-capture process, and to focus on what matters most- their product."
Flashy's services also transcend into other areas such as drone photography, virtual tours, and corporate portraits. "It's also very exciting to see the opportunity for us to cater to more underserved sectors that are not yet maximizing their digital content exposure, such as car marketplaces, health and beauty booking platforms, and many homegrown regional brands selling on e-commerce platforms such as Amazon or Noon," adds Trinca. And their efforts have certainly paid off- in less than a year since its launch, Flashy claims to have achieved 170% month-on-month (MoM) growth, while also seeing its monthly shoot volumes increase by 500% in 2022 alone. The month of April 2022, in particular, saw a 98% growth in revenue, and a 75% increase in photoshoot volume as compared to March.
Christofferson attributes his startup's success to the "speed, quality and consistency" of its services. But there has also been one other major contributing factor: the growth of real estate in the UAE, or, rather, its post-pandemic resurgence. 70% of Flashy's recent growth has been through services offered to the real estate sector. "This was definitely a gap in the market we discovered early on, and it's something that we both noticed from a customer standpoint as well, as we moved into different flats in Dubai during our tenure in the city," says Trinca. "There are over 800 real estate agencies in the city, and over 36,000 new properties were built in 2021. The real estate industry is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 12.36% by 2026 in the UAE, so we have big plans to keep tackling this sector, whilst streamlining our services, and improving our product with an extremely customer-centric approach for this vertical."
Having raised USD$400,000 in a pre-seed funding towards the end of 2021, Christofferson and Trinca are now looking to expand into Saudi Arabia and other parts of the GCC. Plans to raise a seed round of $2 million are also on the cards. And when asked about what's next for Flashy, the co-founders don't shy away from expressing their ambitions. "World domination," say the duo. "We are only slightly joking! Our aim now is to follow in the footsteps of other hyper-growth startups like Anghami and SWVL, and show that UAE-based startups can compete on the world stage."