Through the Lens: Customers, Brand Ambassadors, and the Best Investors

Chad Newell  |

Photo Attribution: Shawn Thompson

I’m Chad Newell, the CEO of Snapwire, an on-demand stock photography marketplace with an innovative take on the traditional stock photo industry. We are currently raising capital via an equity crowdfunding campaign on the platform StartEngine thanks to new rules as part of the JOBS Act of 2012 where we’ve reached over 300% of our initial goal. The following is the fourth part of a four part series (read Part I, Part II, Part III) with the goal of getting to know me as a founder who chose to go the route of equity crowdfunding for our latest round of funding. In my last article, I discussed why we chose Title III. Even though we have been successful at our crowdfunding campaign, I wanted to share the importance of testing the market to see if equity crowdfunding was an endeavor worth pursuing for Snapwire, and why we turned to our community to decide if it was the right move.

When we set out to run an equity crowdfunding campaign, we saw it as a new way to raise capital from a whole new avenue of investors - accredited and nonaccredited. Starting out on SeedInvest with a Test The Waters Campaign (TTWC) with the intent to launch a Title IV campaign not only provided an ability to tap into the platform’s already curated community of investors but, as they pointed out to me, the more valuable community was what Snapwire had already curated itself.

As a user of Facebook (FB), you can buy Facebook stock. You can bet on Facebook with your pocket book. But I bet you couldn’t bet on Facebook when you first joined Facebook, unless you’re reading this having just logged onto Facebook for the first time. Because Facebook wasn’t public. And even in its earliest stages, no one was sure how Facebook would even make money. If you were investing in Facebook, what were you really investing in?

Now imagine you’re a freelance artist who sells your bead art or lawn wood fixtures and dream catchers on Etsy (ETSY). Or a blogger who pens an on-going webcomic and your readers can donate to your Patreon. As long as Etsy and Patreon still exist, you benefit from using their services to make money to do what you love. If you could invest in Etsy or Patreon to help keep the lights, you would, wouldn’t you? Both of those sites are doing great, so if you had invested a couple years ago, you would be doing pretty well for yourself right now. And if you could have invested in Facebook, you’d be in on that Zuckerberg money. Don’t think about that for too long - it’ll make you really jealous.

Photo Attribution: Alexey Dulin

For photographers who use Snapwire, Snapwire is their Etsy or their Patreon. Probably not their only source of income, but one that our users depend on, and actually like. It’s great to be able to thrive doing what you love, and work on creative projects with brands like Adobe (ADBE), Google (GOOGL), Huffington Post or Scholastic (SCHL), just a few Goliaths among 1,700+ photo-buyers that constantly need innovative content on Snapwire. Not just need it - they want it, too.

In this way, Snapwire encourages photographers to take ownership of their business into their own hands. To take on projects with creative briefs they respond to creatively. To engage and work directly with the brands themselves to get the perfect shots. To license their photos that aren’t picked and keep them in our photo library so they can continue to benefit off their work. We created Snapwire to make it as easy as possible for photographers to get paid doing what they love.

In that same vein, now we’re encouraging our community to take ownership in our services in a new way through our equity crowdfunding campaign. What we didn’t necessarily realize, until we started to genuinely consider the Equity Crowdfunding/Reg CF option, was how valuable building and cultivating a community can be for early stage startups. That community isn’t just made up of daily active users, they’re brand ambassadors. They’re Snapwire spokesmen. Now some of them are even partial owners in our company. That - that’s an incredible feeling.

You see, a successful Reg CF, or Mini-IPO, not only sustains us and helps us with growing our services, it demonstrates our viability as a brand and as a community builder. If we can continue to sustain and grow our community while expanding our product, that community will hopefully continue to sustain and grow with us. Plus, if we can demonstrate our value in terms of numbers, that could easily lead to a larger funding raise later down the road.

In short, Reg CF is a very viable option that will bridge companies to a decent seed round and possible subsequent financings. We are pleased that we’ve seen the success that we’ve reached to date. Achieving 300% of our initial goal was a benchmark that we wanted to achieve, and today we’ve reached it. But as Reg CF affords, we are continuing to raise and conduct multiple closings to the full extent of the rules allowed.

Thank you for reading this four part series. There will be more coming from me soon, but for now, you can continue to follow our campaign here: https://www.startengine.com/startup/snapwire-media...


Photo Attribution: Josiah Knowlen

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer.

Companies

Symbol Name Price Change % Volume
FB Facebook Inc. 189.93 -0.21 -0.11 19,706,551 Trade
GOOGL Alphabet Inc. 1,229.84 -8.91 -0.72 1,825,303 Trade
ADBE Adobe Inc. 277.91 -3.35 -1.19 3,982,081 Trade
SCHL Scholastic Corporation 39.96 2.12 5.60 1,298,132 Trade
ETSY Etsy Inc. 60.41 1.34 2.27 20,860,844 Trade

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