30 Nov 2015 Dashmote – Evolution of the Aggregator Business Model

Meet Dashmote, a young, innovative and funded company developing a new twist to the stock photo agency business model.

Founded in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, the young company raised $493k in March 2015 to give photo buyers a better photo buying experience.

The Aggregator Business Model

Dashmote launched with a business model that we’ve seen many times over, but that never ended well.  They would aggregate images from multiple sources, allow customers to search them all together, and then monetise though the affiliate programs of the source agencies when users clicked through to purchase a license at the source.  We saw this business model used by ImageTrail, SpiderPic, ShotSpy, Cyclo.ps, StockPhotoPower and StockBlend, and also still in use at Everypixel.

What the team eventually figured out is that if they’re going to compete with stock photo agencies for customers, it doesn’t make much sense to then send those customers to the agencies.  They can make much higher margins and retain the customer relationship by becoming a reseller rather than an affiliate.  So that’s what they’ve done.

Building a stock photo library for this purpose is relatively simple.  Stock agencies are always keen for more outlets to sell their images, so anyone with a serious business is usually welcome as a distributor.  Once the partnership agreements are signed, the images are either ingested from a hard drive sent by the supplier, or indexed via API, the latter method becoming more and more common over time.

Once the images are in the database, the distributor can start selling licenses.  They just need to watch that the license rights all line up and follow the price guidance from the supplier collections.

mockup macbook proSo How is that Different to a Standard Traditional Stock Agency?

It’s not really that different.  Most traditional agencies already distribute content from all the other traditional agencies, and many now resell microstock collections on the same website too.

Dashmote differs in that they don’t have direct relationships with contributors, which provides a massive cost & time saving by avoiding recruitment, reporting and management for a lot of relatively-small sources.

They will also source images from a wider variety of sources than just traditional RF collections, including various microstock agencies, mobile agencies and even some free sources.

What’s the Benefit for a Customer over an Existing Agency?

Why would a customer go to Dashmote instead of any other stock photo agency?  That is the question Dashmote must answer in order to succeed.

Variety is one of their answers.  They believe that they can source images from a wider variety of sources and price ranges than a typical stock agency, which is likely true.  Most established agencies tend to keep their inbound collections at similar quality and price levels to their own wholly controlled / wholly owned collection, with the occasional exception of a microstock collection tagged on under a “budget” tab on the website.

Another answer is consistency.  Identifying a barrier for customers who transition from using free images to paid images, Dashmote believes people get frustrated having to learn new interfaces moving from one source to another.  By having both free and paid sources on the one site, those customers can make the switch with a single toggle while continuing to use the familiar interface.

Of course search experience is the ultimate answer, and this will be the biggest challenge for Dashmote.  Competing with traditional stock photo agencies whose search functions are developed by their platform providers giving them very little control will not be much of a challenge.  However, competing with the likes of Shutterstock, Adobe and iStock with experienced teams of search engineers and massive bases of historic search data will be where the challenge lies.

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Dennis Tan, Dashmote Co-Founder and CEO

What will Dashmote do Differently?

Being strongly focused on the stock photo industry, Dashmote says they aim to enhance creatives’ productivity with a simplifying solution to image sourcing. Marketing speech aside, what this means is that they have to provide a better search experience with more images than big companies who already compete on the same approach.

But like all entrepreneurs, they have an unquestioned belief in their own future success.  The team has experience building software based on learning algorithms and they have a partnership with an AI company through which they’re attacking the search result quality “from both ends” – the user and asset aspects.

They also have a strong supervisory board and a broad network of mentors from disparate backgrounds that help them develop their business strategy and competitive product.

With this mind-set, technical background and advisor network, they believe they have what it takes to make a dent in this industry.

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Matthaeus Schreder, Dashmote Co-Founder and CPO

More about Dashmote

This company was founded in November 2014, has 11 staff and is headquartered in Amsterdam. Founders are Dennis Tan (CEO), Matthaeus Schreder (CPO) and Stefan Tan (CFO). Dennis and Matthaeus have also co-founded the young tech company Zaviox.

They’re cum-laude alumni from entrepreneurially-oriented Erasmus University, and they have important roles in the institution, having founded the ECE Students organisation –a collective of the university’s entrepreneurial program’s students intended to foster business development. The company is also participating in the Startupbootcamp Amsterdam E-commerce accelerator programme.

In March 2015 Dashmote raised seed funding of €450K ($493K).

Dashmote may be stepping into a market of giants, but they’re young, extremely ambitious and nimble – qualities not inconsistent with previous disruptors of the stock photo industry.  Definitely one to keep a close eye on.

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