19 Oct 2015 CrayonStock Review
While there are several traditional stock and microstock businesses in Latin America, they’re mostly sales agents of foreign (mainly North American) agencies.
CrayonStock, however, is a young Brazilian startup, aspiring to be the first local microstock agency in South America. Focused on regional imagery, they also sell international content.
This relatively new company is sitting on a potentially big market niche, which may be headed for a big increase in demand due to the upcoming Olympic Games. In a short time, they’ve made some interesting efforts to consolidate their position in the marketplace.
CrayonStock was founded in 2014 by Brazilian media professional Luca Atalla. With a background in computer science, Atalla moved into the media publishing industry as Director and CEO of Gracie Magazine, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu magazine that later launched into English speaking market, where he worked for almost 20 years.
Atalla says that during his days at the head of Gracie Magazine, he discovered the microstock business model and noticed a lack of accurate, high quality images representing Brazil. Seeing an unmet need, he returned to his country in 2013 and started developing his idea for a local microstock agency focused on Brazilian images.
CrayonStock launched in April 2014 after collecting R$1M (around $400K at the time) from local angel investors. Afterwards they secured another angel investment for $1M. With this capital, the company considers themselves well funded.
The new agency launched with a small catalog of high quality photos. They set a goal of 400,000 assets and R$4.5M in revenue in their first year, but they weren’t able to hit those ambitious figures. However, today and with the addition of curated content from distribution partners, their marketplace has around 500,000 images.
CrayonStock’s catalog is organized by collections and categories, and all images are high quality and mostly Brazilian. They enable direct upload through their website, and all submissions are heavily curated.
They sell RF licenses, with two subscription tiers sized by download limit and image resolution. Subscriptions are monthly or semi-annual. The “Internet” plan includes 5 daily downloads at 800px (web resolution) for R$97 a month ($24.26 USD), while the “Agency” subscription includes 25 daily downloads with maximum size of 1600px for R$547 ($139.39 USD). Semiannual payments reduce the subscription costs to R$20 and R$100 respectively. They also offer on-demand packs of 5 images for R$39.40 ($9.85 USD) per image, and 25 for R$17.88 ($4.50 USD) per image.
The royalty rate for contributors is 50%.
From the beginning, Atalla has secured participation of a lot of notable local photographers with international exposure. Ricardo Azoury—photojournalist contributor for Corbis, Black Star and Saba Press, and founder of the F4-Rio and TYBA agencies in Brazil—is at the head of the curation team.
And there’s more: an impressive lineup of big names in Brazilian photography have become contributors to CrayonStock. Photojournalists Nair Benedicto —co-founder of F4, the first specialised photojournalism agency in Brazil–, Fernando Bueno, João Ripper and Luciana Whitaker (who also does travel photography); fine art and commercial, surf theme specialists Bruno Veiga and Bruno Lemos; photographer and filmmaker Stefan Hess; editorial and commercial photographer Flavio Scorsato; and submarine imagery expert Marta Granville. Some of them are also in stock; Bueno and Whitaker have their work in Getty Images, and Hess has a portfolio in Pond5.
Aside from the celebrity contributor gallery, CrayonStock is working to deliver a good customer experience. With search powered by Elastic Search, they market their site as a simple and fast source of excellent and authentic photos of Brazil’s people, culture, landscapes, etc. To further improve usability, they offer Dropbox integration for downloads.
The company has inbound distribution partnerships with stock agencies PantherMedia and Zoonar, and with Lev Dolgachov‘s production company, Syda Productions. Images from these sources are also all heavily curated.
With a year and a half in business, they’ve already launched three marketing strategies to consolidate their brand, boost sales and expand business.
In August 2014 they launched “Photograph Brazil,” a joint action with a popular local online lodging reservations site, Hotel Urbano. This project lasted a year and was intended to source images of over 20K hotels and lodging offerings across the country, from locally-based contributors, as a way to promote the perks of the agency’s content and services and to stimulate career opportunities for local photographers.
In October 2014 they released a limited-time offer for local startups. Upon registration, these small businesses could get up to 30 free image downloads per month, for 3 months only. CrayonStock absorbed all of the costs of this promotion and still paid contributors regular royalties for the images downloaded within the free offer. Their intent was to build awareness of their brand, reaching a larger universe of buyers and attracting more contributors.
Their latest move is the upcoming Crayon4u, an assignment platform offering professional photography services on an hourly rate. The platform will be separate from the stock marketplace and run by a separate team. The company expects this additional revenue stream to motivate photographers to keep submitting stock images to the marketplace.
CrayonStock is still at a very early stage of growth. They need to increase sales and grow their library. Right now their efforts seem to be focused on to leveraging their good royalty rate and their celebrity contributors’ reputations to achieve both goals. Their doors are open for new contributors, but their high standards make the site unsuitable for amateurs.
Operating out of Brazil comes with some peculiarities. The local currency exchange rate, for example, makes their subscriptions to be among the cheapest in market for US buyers. And there are other potential advantages. The country constitutes a massive market with lots of opportunities to be explored. The upcoming Olympic Games, a very big market, may increase the demand for regional stock imagery. If CrayonStock knows how to exploit these opportunities, they might do well.
Feature image by Luca Atalla.