Along with the rapid expansion in e-commerce, which has been spurred in part by the epidemic, there has been a spike in demand for services that may help retailers engage more readily online. Soona, a company that enables businesses to produce material for their e-commerce websites and marketing via “virtual” picture and video sessions, has been tapping into this industry with its platform, which has recently received an additional 35 million in Series B investment. Rather of having merchants send their products off for a distant photo shoot and then wait for the results, Soona’s technology enables businesses to engage in the photo shoot process remotely and in real-time.
“We’d like to welcome you to participate in your photoshoot in the browser.” “It’s similar to you and me attending a Zoom meeting,” says Liz Giorgi, co-founder and CEO of Soona. “When you click on the calendar invitation, your photoshoot shows in the browser, and you can witness every single picture and video clip as it is shot in real time.” “Those assets are available for you to connect with so that clients or teams may provide feedback to the photographer on those assets,” she explains.
Customers of Soona may contact with the photographer if they wish to adjust the composition, add or remove items from the setting, or change anything else about the session. Furthermore, the retailers prefer not having to pay for the service up advance. Instead, they’ll pay 39 per picture or 93 each video clip, and they’ll just have to buy the materials they need. The photographs and videos are supplied within 24 hours after their selection, ready to be published to the merchant’s website or marketing channels. Merchants may also go back and request additional material from previous shoots at any time.
Soona is reporting today that it has acquired 35 million in additional investment led by Bain Capital Ventures, as a result of the company’s performance. Union Square Ventures, Matchstick Ventures, Starting Line Ventures, 2048 Ventures, and Range Ventures were among the previous investors in the round, bringing the total raised to 51 million.
Giorgi has a professional experience in media production. She had worked in media and television production and managed her own online video production firm, Mighteor, before founding Soona. She claims the experience has given her a strong eye for understanding how to generate material, particularly attractive stuff. Hayley Anderson, her co-founder, has an animation experience and worked as a creative director at Mighteor, which was eventually bought by creator network Standard.
Soona was formed by the two in 2019 and their first product was released the same year. Soona used to operate by having clients come into real studios for their picture and video sessions, while employing software that allowed consumers to purchase from the material immediately after it was uploaded. The epidemic, however, compelled Soona to rethink her strategy and convert to a virtual model. When it turned out, adopting this methodology aided the company’s growth not just during the pandemic’s peak, when in-person operations were halted, but also in the months following, as remote work grew more common. Soona’s income increased 400% from 2020 to 2021, then another 300% from 2021 to 2022. However, the corporation would not provide its yearly sales data, claiming a competitive advantage in keeping business information confidential.
Soona now serves about 10,000 businesses, including Wild Earth, Lola Tampons, The Sill, SNOW, Birchbox, and others, although not via a subscription model. Instead, it’s a transactional company, but one that Giorgi feels has discovered the appropriate product-market fit, since repeat customers accounted for 63 percent of sales month over month last year. Around 60% of its clients are e-commerce businesses with a revenue of 1 million to 5 million, many of which are built on Shopify. Cosmetics, beauty, wellness, fashion, and footwear are key areas for the corporation, which is currently expanding into consumer packaged goods and nutrition items.
“While we don’t have a recurring revenue model, the frequency with which brands want these assets is considerable.” We’ve made it incredibly simple for them to continue to engage with Soona by allowing them to pick when and how they spend money and make investments in these visual assets,” Giorgi explains. “However, subscriptions are not off the table,” she says.
Other services, such as Pow Photography, also enable retailers to bring in merchandise for remote picture sessions, but they lack Soona’s real-time experience. Furthermore, some competitors concentrate mainly on “product-on-white” photography — product photographs on white backdrops for typical e-commerce sites — rather than the deeper content provided by matching things with models in photos taken in living rooms or kitchen settings, for example. Other rivals, on the other hand, attempt to link retailers and photographers directly in a marketplace-style service.
Soona’s exclusive technology, on the other hand, gives consumers access to everything they need to arrange their photoshoot online, including models and stylists (both human and pet!). Models, like other gig economy workers, operate on a contract basis. Soona’s photographers, on the other hand, may work on the tasks as freelancers or as full-time workers. Currently, the company employs around 35 full-time photographers and over 100 contract photographers.
Soona plans to use the extra funds to expand its marketplace of model services, which is already one of the company’s fastest-growing sectors, accounting for 20% of total revenue in 2021. Soona intends to increase the platform’s size by 2022 in order to attract additional sorts of diversified talent and innovative methods of showcasing items for its merchant clients. It will also invest in technology that will allow it to make more suggestions to brands about the kind of photoshoots they should do by requesting specific business data and the merchant’s objectives. Soona has already released Amazon and Instagram suggested shootings, and it plans to do the same for TikTok.
In addition, the firm intends to develop its API platform in order to broaden its list of connectors outside Shopify, which now accounts for 55 percent of its client base. Soona plans to interface with additional e-commerce technology stack components in the future, such as Klayvio or BigCommerce, for example.
The firm, which has offices in Denver, Austin, and Minneapolis, will also treble its engineering staff by hiring engineers from outside the Minneapolis office. It will also expand its product staff.
Soona is “on the way” to become the next female-founded unicorn, according to Giorgi, who refused to comment on its current worth. She said, “We’re going to get there very soon.”