Image editing startup Pixc soaring in sales, averaging 1000 a week

- January 14, 2014 3 MIN READ

From paintings to photo prints, we’ve been heavily influenced by images for centuries. Today, in the eCommerce space, an image can be the difference between making and not making a sale. Unfortunately for the uninitiated, this may require using sophisticated Image Editing Software such as Photoshop – a skill that takes time to master. Now with Pixc, a product image can be edited and returned within 24 hours for $2.

Founded last year by 26-year-old entrepreneur, Holly Cardew, Pixc is a new online photo editing service built expressly for eCommerce businesses. Cardew knew all too well the difference an image can make to a product’s sellability, having previously run a regional online marketplace.

She says, “When I was building a regional online marketplace, I realised the problem wasn’t necessarily that people needed help with selling online. They just needed better product images.”

“You can’t touch a product when you’re shopping online, so an image is the first point of contact. Research shows that an image of a product on a contrasting background can increase sales by 39 percent; and a large image can increase sales by 9 percent. So images are really important. People look at images before they read the product description.”

Given there are over 25 million individuals and businesses selling online, with 2 million products being uploaded daily on eBay alone, Cardew realised the potential for a business.

“Everyone has smartphones with cameras these days, so I thought to myself, ‘wouldn’t it be cool if they could just take a snapshot of their product using their phone, upload it onto the cloud, and have it edited for them so they can display it online?”

Cardew didn’t rest on her idea. She was quick to build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) on WordPress – that is, a simple site with email contact details, calling on people to email product photos they want edited. It was not long after, that Cardew received an order of almost 700 images by a single buyer.

Now, people can simply upload photos through the ‘Submit Your Photos’ section of www.pixcphotos.com, and have the edited image returned to their email within 24 hours – for $2 per image. The experts in the startup will remove crowded backgrounds to achieve a simple contrast with the product.

Pixc is averaging 500 to 1,000 sales per week. Cardew says sales depend on seasons. Over Christmas, people weren’t sending as many images because they were too busy selling. It was the months before Christmas that they would send orders when they received new stock. Since launching, Pixc has processed over 10,000 product images.

The images are being outsourced to an international team of photo editors. Cardew says that much like Gengo (human-powered editing) and Flightfox (human powered flight search), Pixc is human-powered image editing.

Their primary marketing methods include word-of-mouth, cold calling, and social media – all cost-effective options.

“We don’t have a huge marketing budget. And I found that social media works quite well. All our customers are eCommerce business owners who are active on social media to drive their own business,” says Cardew.

The two biggest challenges Cardew has faced throughout this venture has been scaling and dealing with negative feedback, though the latter never put her down.

“Although I never took it to heart, there were people who said my idea wouldn’t work. I know the exact problem I am solving, so I chose to ignore sceptics. I think someone else in my position, would have been discouraged by that,” says Cardew.

“At the end of the day, perseverance and self-teaching is most important. Although there’s a great startup community in Australia, you don’t know what interests people have. You will get lots of opinions thrown at you, but you have to make up your own mind about what’s best for your business.”

Cardew’s biggest advice to aspiring startup founders is to start with an MVP – a term she learned from the book, The Lean Startup.

“Build something that you can do manually via email or through a WordPress site. This way you can determine whether there is a market for your product. This is better than building a full-scale product, and then trying to go out and sell it, because you can manipulate the business to suit the market,” says Cardew.

“I was originally going to create a mobile app, but then I realised that half my customers don’t take pictures with their phones. They use proper cameras.”

Although the business has been entirely bootstrapped to date, Cardew is open to raising investment capital in the future so she can grow out her team. But she says she would prefer to test all her assumptions first, before taking that leap.

Cardew is also looking to take part in an accelerator programme with her co-founder, and is currently shortlisted to Muru-D.

Pixc won the Telstra Digital Scholarship last year at Melbourne, and the duo will be heading over to San Francisco in March. Cardew thinks this will pave a favourable path towards developing partnerships in Australia and overseas.

For more information or to have product images edited, visit www.pixcphotos.com.