One of the first things that comes to our mind while travelling is taking a picture for social media usage. However, a lot of times we feel that our photos don’t do justice to the beauty of the destination or that moment, due to multiple reasons: perhaps we don’t have an appropriate camera or the phone is out of battery or we are just not able to capture the entire view.
Asian, travel-photography startup WanderSnap aims to solve this problem by connecting you to local photographers while you are travelling across Asia. We spoke with WanderSnap’s co-founder Jen on the company’s business-model and growth plans.
What is WanderSnap?
JL: WanderSnap is a marketplace connecting local photographers on-demand with families and businesses around Asia. We use $5 per booking to teach photography to low-opportunity youth, so they too can create art for a living. The platform is built to be automated, so guests can search by style, budget and availability on-the-go. A typical shoot averages around 100 USD making curated content highly affordable for travellers, families, and businesses alike. Looking beautiful is a right not a luxury.
What’s the background of the founders?
JL: Jen started WanderSnap after having led some of the top consumer brands around Asia. Her first job was head of strategy at Groupon HK pre-IPO, before taking over business development for Alipay to US and European markets pre-Tmall days. Then, she led lululemon as the country’s first showroom manager, hiring its first retail teams, opening its first showrooms, and creating its inaugural community events to launch the brand into the Middle Kingdown. Thereafter, Jen led TOMS into China by hiring its first teams, opening its regional office, and establish its first celebrity and university partnerships as China Brand Director. In just two years Tmall store was launch and more than 30+ stores were opened in partnership with local partner. Jen spends her time either volunteering abroad, photographing regional charities, or sharing adventure ideas in the region.
Social impact has always been in the makeup of Jen’s career and projects. By working with regional NGOs to deliver 10-week training programs to underserved youth, we are hoping to help create creative jobs in tourist areas. This is what drives our work and efforts.
How did it all start and we thought of The WanderSnap idea?
JL: I am extremely grateful to have had a chance to explore the work through my career and upbringing, and always marveled at how other youth my age may only be confined to working jobs in hospitality or F&B, overworking, earning minimum wage, with limited upward earning potential. Yet, in just two steps away from say this young server in a trendy Manila restaurant is a big family pulling out their cameras out to pose in front of their dishes. Why then can we not connect people and businesses’ needs for beautiful images with eager talents to create dignified, creative, and financially rewarding gigs?
This hit me the hardest when I was living in a rural farming community in Nepal photographing for a local newspaper a few years back. Every night, I counted the rupees spent on my pillow to realize that I never spent more than 3 USD a day, which covered 3 curry meals, clean bottled water to brush my teeth and to shower in, even with some change for snacks on the road. It cemented how privileged we are to grow up with even an option to be a creative freelancer in much of the western world, and I’d like to help bring the same level of job flexibility to those living around Asia to take advantage of a creative format that will yield financial and creative fulfillment.
Who are using WanderSnap?
JL: We have both B2C and B2B clients. Individuals like moms, families, couple moments (bachelorettes, pre-weddings, engagements, proposals), birthdays, maternity, holidays, Linkedin profiles, special occasions etc. We support businesses like Airbnb, Zuzuhotels, Web In Travel, HK Express with their product and lifestyle content as needed in order to connect with target audience more relevantly, and ultimately to convert for more bookings. We have even help team portraits, eCommerce catalogue, live event photos, and many other business photo needs (because who doesn’t need content in order to promote their services?)
Between photos for life and work, our photographers are trusted pros who can capture high-quality images that are affordable and authentic.
What is WanderSnap’s early traction? (Number of Active Users/Revenue)
JL: In just 6 months, we have scaled to 500+ snappers across 44 cities in Asia, having photographed personal moments from proposals to birthday parties to anniversaries. On the B2B side, we shoot affordably for conference organizers (Web In Travel for example), hospitality brands (Zuzuhotel, Airbnb, HK Express, etc.) and content platforms. We have explored distribution channels like Klook where guests can even buy curated photography packages through their local favorite OTAs.
These days everyone carries a smartphone and a DSLR while travelling. Your views in-terms of the value proposition?
JL: Like every other consumer trend, from sporting apparel to fast fashion to electronic goods, as customers become more familiar with entry-level goods, they’d like to elevate the quality by paying (slightly) more to level-up their experience with a more sophisticated product. We believe in the same for on-demand creative services for both people and businesses.
The price of photography will only decrease even more, with more prevalent technological access (like cheaper DSLRs, more powerful smartphone, automated editing apps), where we live in a future where hiring a photographer is as affordable as buying a new selfie-stick or an editing software, but the quality of a personal photographer will out-rank that of any do-it-yourself alternative. In that vision of the future, it’s only natural to have a personal photographer to document all your life and work moments without buying one more gadget or one more app to do exactly the same (living beautifully).
Have you fund-raised yet? If no, are you looking at raising funds.
JL: We are supported by some great investors in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Shanghai. We are always on the lookout to connect with more investors for feedback.
What are your future plans?
JL: We have a few tools in pipeline to disrupt photo needs for businesses, while also growing our coverage, expanding on distribution, curating an even more exciting snapper mix, and delivering more training programs with new impact partners to create ultimately even more creative jobs around the region.