How To Solve The Chicken and Egg Dilemma- The Shutterstock Story
19 years ago, Shutterstock was started with a camera, a couple of thousand dollars, and a founder with enough determination to take 30,000 photos in one year!
Here is the story
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Jon Oringer’s first success was a browser pop-up blocker.
This was in 1998. The top browser was Microsoft Explorer.
The business did so well that soon he was able to pay back all his student loans.
"I thought I was going to sell pop-up blockers forever."
Guess who had other plans?
Microsoft. They built their own blocker and overnight, Jon’s startup went bust.
3 miserably failed projects later, Jon finally found his idea!
One thing that he noticed when working on his projects was that options for affordable stock photos were limited.
This was 2003. The players in the market were targeting news websites and were ridiculously expensive.
"I was creating software at the time and I was trying to get people to renew their subscription. I needed images of just general stuff to send out and I started to realise that this stuff was hard to get."
So Jon decided to create his own stock photo marketplace.
The Chicken and Egg Problem
After building the website, Jon had to onboard both photographers and users in order for his business to succeed. And of course, neither group would join unless the other one was already there.
To solve this chicken and egg dilemma, Jon became the first photographer on the platform.
He bought a camera, hired some models through Craigslist, and wandered New York taking generic photos to post on the site.
By end of year, he had taken over 30,000 photos!
The beauty of simplicity
Shutterstock’s offering was simple. Flat monthly fee, unlimited access.
Compare that to having to pay for each photo.
Long story short, the Users loved the new model and by 2009 Shutterstock was the largest subscription-based stock photo agency in the world!
Today Shutterstock has over 390 million photos and a market cap of $3.5 billion!
Let’s end with great advice by Jon:
“The best business ideas come out of seeing what’s not there, what’s not available. Think about why it’s missing. Is it actually impossible, or has nobody gotten there yet? That’s the key question to success.”
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