With eCommerce soaring, social commerce growing by leaps and bounds and thousands of new online stores being launched or upgraded each year, feeding the modern digital content monster is a seemingly endless task.
It’s also one that Denver-based creative content platform soona is looking to disrupt by providing rapid and professionally produced images and videos at a fraction of the regular cost.
In a recent conversation with PYMNTS, soona Co-Founder and CEO Liz Giorgi said her 2-year-old startup will more than double its client roster and staff this year for one simple reason: two-thirds of online shopping decisions come down to the photos a customer sees.
“We often talk at soona about how modern brands, modern thinkers and modern businesses are living in a universe where the distribution channels for content are growing [rapidly] and they’re demanding more and more content from all of us,” Giorgi said. “And so it creates this massive vacuum where the needs for content are growing and yet the methodologies we’ve been using for decades have not evolved to keep up with the industry.”
Add in a layer of economic segregation that has historically limited access to professional-grade creative content to large, well-heeled businesses, and the use case for launching soona is clear.
The Power Of Pictures
“We really believe that photo and video is an essential need to be competitive,” Giorgi said. “If you have an eCommerce store, having photos that really compel customers is what’s going to make you competitive. If you are a personality or a media company, having great video on your website is what’s going to make you competitive and get people to stay engaged.”
She said the company’s transparent $39 per image, $93 per video pricing policy puts soona within reach of any entrepreneur with an idea. “We really want to emphasize this idea that quality content should be available to everyone,” she said. “It should not be something that is sort of gated-off with these $10,000 or more price points.”
Although $39 is the minimum purchase, Giorgi said the average company’s “content investment” at soona is about $500, which is probably unsurprising since National Retail Federation research shows 57 percent of consumers report that they made a purchase decision based on a photo.
Given that soona’s own revenues grew 400 percent last year and its client roster increased by 50 percent in the first quarter alone to 6,000 businesses, it’s probably also unsurprising that investors are starting to take note.
VCs Are In
Two weeks ago, soona announced that it had completed its first round of fundraising, via a $10.2 million Series A led by venture capital firm Union Square Partners.
“soona’s technology solves the missing piece of the e-commerce stack,” investor Rebecca Kaden, a managing partner at Union Square Ventures said in the release announcing the funding. “There is a huge opportunity to meet the demand of e-commerce brands as this category continues to grow. soona has already achieved exceptional organic growth and high customer retention, and we’re thrilled to support this team.”
As it stands, Giorgi said 7 out of 10 of soona’s customers were referred by an existing customer, “by someone telling someone else that this was a difference-maker for their e-commerce store,” she said.
With fresh cash in the bank, Giorgi said soon will hire additional creative and engineering staff ahead of rolling out a subscription-based service later this year to augment the in-house virtual model marketplace it rolled out last year that allows clients to quickly add the power of a face, body, pair of hands or a pet to their imagery.
“Brands are taking more risks than ever to stand out online as more and more stores emerge and as more and more products are released into an online-only world,” Giorgi said. “We’re seeing brands say, ‘We want to try new and dynamic ways to get the word out, we want to be more brave in our content and we want to be more brave in our creative,’” she said, adding that soona’s fast casual content mission can bring those goals to life.