In a digital age where everything is freely available and easily accessible, it can be increasingly difficult for musicians and artists to monetise their work. But there are startups out there addressing these problems - such as our Virgin Startup of the Week, Carl Thomas of miPic, a platform which lets artists and photographers to sell their work as art and fashion products. Let's find out more!
We choose one Virgin StartUp company to be featured on Virginstartup.org each week. We ask our startups of the week to deliver the ultimate elevator pitch. What would they say if they had one minute in a lift with Sir Richard Branson? Please answer the questions below, keeping each answer to five sentences max.
Ground to floor 1 – Explain what your business does
miPic is a social gallery enabling mobile photographers and artists to share & sell their pics as premium art and fashion products, earning commission free with every sale.
Floor 1 to 2 - Where are you based?
We are based in Battersea, and House of Saint Barnabas in Soho for the important meetings.
Floor 2 to 3 – What’s the business model?
A social platform for the monetisation of curated smartphone imagery via physical and digital products.
Our automated marketplace links miPic user content to product manufacturers and consumers of digital content worldwide. From a simple upload, users can share their imagery via miPic app and sell a printed art or fashion product and earn money for free. We handle the transaction and manufacturing and send a commission fee back to our users with every public sale via paypal.
Floor 3 to 4 – Who are your competitors?
Mobile photography occupies the big social platforms like Instagram, EyeEm, Oggl and VSCO cam; however there are very few players with the ‘social to physical product model’ via an app. One similar model to us in the US is called Twenty20, and they raised $1.7m dollars last year. ECommerce site Sociey6 also have an automated manufacturing model sold for $94m in 2013 with no app or social platform. We are targeting specifically mobile photographers and artists as these devices are getting better and better, making it easy to create their own customized products or share on our gallery.
Floor 4 to 5 – What’s your USP?
miPic provides a unique “social experience / premium product manufacturing” offering by combining a freemium social community network and premium administered mobile imagery alongside an art and fashion manufacturing service.
We see ourselves as a complimentary platform to existing image-based social apps. By utilizing established audiences, our users can showcase their images and turn those ‘Likes’ into £’s as premium products through a personalised gallery marketplace.
Floor 5 to 6 – Where did the idea come from?
I ran my own small art business whilst studying architecture at university. When I moved to London in 2010 as an architect, I saw the way mobile was transforming our lives, photos and social status.
I saw potential in fantastic mobile imagery through creative apps such as Hipstamatic, VSCO, Camera+ and Instagram, so I strived to turn ‘100 likes’ into £100 as a desirable tangible product. The miPic idea was born from me wanting to sell my own mobile imagery again on a larger scale - but this time I created a social platform for us all to do so.
Floor 6 to 7 – How much funding did you receive from Virgin StartUp?
Floor 7 to 8 – How are you going to use it to grow your business?
Our beta launch was in 2014 with 2 products, and we pretty much bootstrapped our development on a shoestring over 2 years in true startup style. We have just launched our new app www.mipic.co/download and new website in December, partnering with three fantastic manufacturers launching ten new product streams. The funding will enable us to start marketing the platform, continuing to grow the user base and content quality through our social experts, alongside developing miPic for other devices and increasing further revenue opportunities.
Floor 8 to 9 – What’s your workspace like?
It goes from one extreme to another; super clean or untidy depending on how busy I am. I prefer to be mobile so I can work anywhere.
Floor 9 to 10 – where will your business be in 12 month’s time?
I couldn’t have imagined what 2014 had in store upon quitting work and launching miPic full time last year. Winning Virgin's Pitch 2 Rich 2014 and meeting Sir Richard was fantastic. So I would love more of the same - securing large investment to propel miPic forward with a happy and growing team, more global users profiting from the platform, more partnerships and quality services on offer. Our aim for miPic is to be the go to platform for mobile imagery as physical or digital products in 2015. I must also mention we are also offering 17% of the company to the public via our crowdfunding campaign, which ends this month - so please join us and become a shareholder as well as an artist!