Melbourne-based app Co:lab connects photography creatives together in a personalised online portfolio

- June 29, 2016 3 MIN READ

For traveling photographers it’s hard to connect with other creatives on a professional level. Many use Instagram to research and source creatives they would like to directly work with, getting a feel for their style through their images but not able to source things like work performance or schedules.

Photographer Ren Pidgeon’s pet hate was finding people to work with, but not only that he found there was a missing database for professionals and a platform to organise group projects. As a freelancer, Pidgeon relied on face-to-face meetings and Instagram searches to build up his list of contacts and had to repeat the same process for each area he worked in.

With online platforms like Freelancer, UpWork and Expert360, freelancers have a place where they can connect with clients and find work opportunities. However when creatives want to collaborate on certain projects, Pidgeon finds there are surprisingly small avenues.

“There’s no real way of finding people to work with, the only well researched source was Instagram, that I found,” explained Pidgeon.

On any given shoot photographers need to work with the designers who in turn work with hair stylists and makeup artists, it’s all one big creative collaboration unit. While the physical work is collaborative, the group management side lacks a dedicated platform to help each creative schedule, delegate and communicate with others.

“Say you’re a travelling photographer and you’re due to do a shoot in Sydney, I always found it was a really hard thing to organise with no contacts, and there was no actual place for people to look up a database.”

In February this year Pidgeon started working on an app called Co:lab that was designed as a platform to connect creative photographers together in a personalised and online portfolio. For photographers, stylists, models, hair and makeup artists, designers and assistants, Co:lab provides a place to collaborate with a chosen team to fulfill creative projects.

The app uses Instagram as a housing unit, allowing creatives to log in through their Instagram account, giving potential contacts access to all their images and a portfolio of their work. Creatives upload six of their best images to create their Co:lab profile and then add in personalised info like location and title.

For example for a Melbourne photographer like Pidgeon, Co:lab works like Tinder, using a similar swiping model to match with the right creatives for the project.

Once connected creatives can start working together on projects through the platform. Co:labs gives them access to functions like group chat, project management tools and referencing. The app also has a feature where users can create an open casting for their ideas to source out the best of the best concepts and unique interpretations.

At this stage Co:lab is working on gaining traction and momentum in the market. According to Startup Muster 2015 report, 59 percent of startups find that customer acquisition is the biggest challenge and pain point of taking their business to the next level. Building up a relationship with beta users, promoting the spread of word of mouth and expanding upon a market strategy is crucial to survive in such a fast pace and tech driven industry.

Once Co:labs has a certain amount of users on board and has proven its viability the app will move towards creating professional accounts based on a subscription model of an estimated $5.99 per month. Along with a payment platform Pidgeon said he is also looking to build a supplier section, which will connect all local and available studios across Australia and then eventually the world to creatives.

The app has been entirely bootstrapped and is now seeking between $80,000 to $100,000 in investment, which will go towards added features and national expansion.

To create brand awareness Co:labs is looking to team up with well-known brands to expand into existing client bases. Currently the app is working with Dunlop Volley and will be collaborating on one of their campaigns in the next six months.

“I think the potential of the app is huge and myself being a photographer and working in the industry is going to be so handy, and we know that people will use this tool if they have it,” said Pidgeon.

Image: John Pantzopoulos, Ren Pidgeon and Aaron Tobin. Source: Supplied.