Rawporter is a mobile application based service that helps the news media instantly source raw news content.
Below is the full interview that we have conducted with Mr. Davis regarding his start-up “Rawporter.com”;
1. What is it exactly that you do and what “Rawporter” is all about?
Rawporter helps people earn money for shooting and sharing photos and videos. All items captured with the app or uploaded online are indexed so they become discoverable by search engines and can not only be found but also purchased.
Additionally, buyers interested in custom photos and videos can tell us exactly what they want and what they are willing pay. We then send these assignments to our users that are most likely to respond. Best of all, Rawporter is fully integrated with Facebook and Twitter so experiences can still be shared with friends and family!
2. When has “Rawporter” been founded? And what stage is “Rawporter” currently at?
Our iOS and Web beta launch was on 11/10/11. We’re still in beta on 4 platforms (iOS, Android, Web and Mobile Web) and are focused on collecting feedback to polish our product and improve the user experience.
We knew that a product like our required a public beta to collect real user feedback. We continue to iterate and hope to have more stable product very soon but the core functionality is starting to come along.
3. What is “Rawporter”’s business model and how does it work?
Anyone, anywhere can submit or buy photo and video content. Buyers can search for existing content or request custom content from contributors by stating what they are looking for and how much they are willing to pay.
Contributors set their own prices for stock content. Buyers set the price when requesting customer content. Rawporter charges the buyer a small transaction for every purchase.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
Kevin and Rob met while working at Bank of America and partnered on a number Digital Marketing projects over the course of several years. Kevin and Michael have been friends since childhood.
Kevin Davis, CEO: Seasoned Business Development Director and MBA
Rob Gaige, COO: Experienced Consumer Product Marketing Executive and MBA
Michael Robinson, CTO: Accomplished Project Manager, Information Architect and MIS
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
We are creating a photo and video sharing platform that is unique, fun to use, and helps people make money.
By introducing a location-based app, with alerts, we are essentially creating an army of cameras that are ready to respond to nearby assignments created by mainstream media, new media bloggers, ad agencies and productions houses.
Unlike competitors in this space, we have been trained to build consumer products, which has influenced our approach to the development and marketing of our App. It is intuitive and less intimidating for everyday people, increasing the likelihood that they will use it.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has “Rawporter” achieved so far?
We’ve been focused on collecting feedback from our beta users and haven’t begun marketing yet. We’re seeing significant interest from our few thousand users in 50+ countries and more than 1/3rd of the activity is coming from outside the US. We’ve started making sales and even had one set of pictures earn almost $20,000 dollars.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is “Rawporter”’s competitive advantage over them?
We have competitors in a few different categories. CNN’s iReport is the closest comparison we get but feel the compensation sets us apart there. We’ve also been compared to YouTube but believe our assignments feature and the ability to get paid is a clear differentiator.
Ultimately, we’re an interactive marketplace for photos and videos supported by 4 platforms. There just aren’t many companies that are doing that.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
We face obstacles daily and overcome them by persevering and leveraging relationships primarily. We have a very limited budget unfortunately and are making the most of our limited resources.
We’re also tapping into our very passionate user base for guidance which has helped us polish our product in recent months. Their candid feedback has help us refine our strategy significantly and design a much more ambitious product that we hadn’t originally envision.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
Communication is becoming more visual and photos and videos will soon be the universal language. Most people don’t realize how valuable the content is that already sitting on their phones and computers. Simply making these photos and video available to be purchased can result in significant earning potential.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
We’ll succeed because people are passionate about photography. Additionally, the combination of reward and recognition is a pretty strong motivator. We’re also hearing from buyers that if the quality is there then they will buy it.
There were concerns initially but we are seeing a wide variety of amazing content coming in from around the world. If we can find the right balance for the needs of both buyers and seller while maintaining a friendly and fun user experience then we believe success will eventually find us.
11. If “Rawporter” succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
We’ll continue to expand deeper into the world of photography and videography. We will introduce innovative tools to help our users customize and polish their content to attract more buyers at higher prices. We also have plans for streamlined interfaces so the buying and publishing process is easier than ever.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build “Rawporter” based on?
There was an obvious gap in the marketplace. Demand is increasing for photos and videos and the existing marketplace is inefficient. This high demand for multi-media also made it seem more acceptable to use photos and videos without permission or payment to the owner.
We believe that the rights of photographers, both professional and amateur, should be protected and are making an effort to help.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
We’ve learned a lot thanks to our passionate user base. It’s incredibly important to collect feedback and act on it. It takes us a little more time than we’d like due to resource constraints but we’re doing our best to communicate with our buyers and sellers.
Ultimately we have learned that people love to shoot photos and videos and then share their perspective with the world. Now it’s possible to continue sharing with friends, family, fans and followers but also earn a little extra income at the same time.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
We are already backlogged on campus visits unfortunately. We’ve received numerous invitations to speak at J-Schools and are trying to take advantage of the opportunity to reach this audience but scheduling is an issue. We’re going to find a way to take advantage of more speaking engagements if possible.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
The primary benefit is that sellers get the reward and recognition that they deserve. The biggest benefit for buyers is that they now have easy access to credible and affordable photos and videos. If they can’t find exactly what they’re looking for then they simply create an assignment detailing what they need and how much they are willing to pay.
16. How did customers/users find out about you?
We haven’t begun marketing yet so we’re really happy that users have been finding us. Social media has been incredibly powerful. With the help of Twitter and Facebook we’ve been able to attract users from all over the world.
We’ve also been fortunate enough to get a little media attention which has helped attract both buyers and sellers. We continue to attend conferences and exhibit when possible as well.
17. Who are your current customers/users? Who are your target customers/users?
Our current users appear to be photography enthusiasts that you’d find on Instagram and the other social networks. We’re seeing a lot of interest from both amateur and professional photographers which is generating a wide variety of content.
Ideally we’d like to reach everyone that is currently posting photos and videos to Facebook and Twitter because now they can continue to do that but also earn money at the same time.
18. Where do new customers/users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
Most new users are hearing about us through social media. We believe that initial interest is driven by others that have started using the product and shared their experience. Our betas are still buggy but are improving greatly with each iteration.
Thankfully for our users have been pretty forgiving. We’ve also seen the number of assignments start to grow which provide cash incentive to give Rawporter a try.
19. What do your customers/users say about your product and/or service?
Most of the buzz has been positive and users are excited about the potential to earn money for the types of photos and videos they’re already posting online for free. We’ve had some technical challenges and have gotten that feedback as well which has been helpful to identify bugs.
We’ve also identified numerous user experience gaps and communication issues that are being addressed in future iterations. We’ll be introducing a couple of interesting enhancements soon that are a direct result of our user feedback.
20. How are you going to scale?
We’ve planned in advance for rapid scaling with our cloud technology. Our growth strategy will hopefully be organic and gradual but we know that anything is possible and we’re prepared for aggressive expansion as well.
Our platform is flexible and open to almost any market that is interested. We’re already starting to see increased international interest so we’ll start to focus more attention there as well.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
The biggest missing feature has been our social layer. We’ve been focused on shoring up the core functionality and now that this is stabilizing, we are going to gradually introduce our community strategy. Soon, users will be able to interact as both buyers and sellers with more advanced communication features.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
We are already seeing more than 1/3rd of our activity coming from outside the US and we believe that interest will only be increasing. We’re relying on cloud technology with significant capacity for growth. We’re confident that our platform is prepared to internationalize and we’ll eventually start staffing outside the US to manage local markets as well.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
Our baseline goal is a million users initially and think that our social media integration will help us grow exponentially once we reach that level. There are similar photo and video-sharing companies achieving the numbers without the ability for users to earn money.
We think that this will be a key driver for success as more users start to supplement their income over time with very little effort.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
We’ll be introducing a number of roles in the next few months and are eager to start building communities in local markets. These market leaders will be focused on organic growth through loyalty and engagement activities. They’ll be having a lot of fun while earning a good income with pretty amazing growth potential.
Active recruiting hasn’t begun yet but we will start putting feelers out pretty soon. Applicants are welcome to contact us any time using the firstname.lastname@example.org email address which is tied to all 3 co-founders.
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
We have actually just started exploring several partnership opportunities and are really excited to see those materialize over time. We’re currently bootstrapped but are raising a seed round to help position Rawporter for growth now that our technology is stabilizing.
We are also very early in the process but have had some promising conversations with VCs that have been introduced to us. We know that scaling is expensive and we’re being realistic about this.
Thankfully we actually have a revenue model and have begun making money so we can continue running the business while those conversations continue. Any potential partners / investors can contact Kevin at email@example.com
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Persevere and keep an open mind. We knew user feedback was a necessity but we had no idea how valuable it would be in defining our strategy. We made numerous shifts along the way and wouldn’t be where we are now if we didn’t remain flexible.
27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Really glad to participate in this process and want to thank you for the opportunity. We are always interested in hearing from our users so please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org any time.