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Thematics :

Lockdown has been an extremely difficult time for companies. However, according to some experts, start-ups have a number of important advantages that will help them to survive the crisis (see article Denis Gallot [link]). Through their ability to adapt, start-ups can often turn their business around and keep going. PicMe, a start-up founded by three NEOMA students, talk about their experience during this unprecedented situation.

PicMe was founded by Master in Management students Martin Cregut, Julian Amar and Gabriel Ruff, a year ago. "Having met and interviewed over a hundred photographers, we developed a service designed by and for them: a transaction platform where photographers can exchange their photos for money, how and where they want, but above all in a simple and secure way. The photographers are totally free to choose their own hours, clients, prices ... PicMe is simply a practical way for them to develop their activity," explains Martin Cregut.

PicMe's activity was initially based around mini photo-shoots in front of the Eiffel Tower aimed at mainly foreign visitors. A lot of the turnover is also generated from tourism and events. However, the start-up's business has come to a virtual standstill since the lockdown and the consequent downturn in these sectors.

Nevertheless, it would take a lot more to discourage the three co-founders, who took the decision to adopt a positive viewpoint and make a contribution to the wave of solidarity initiatives that have seen the light of day. Their idea: photograph and capture the lockdown experience for their clients.

picme couple

Launching an ad hoc operation

PicMe is all about good times and souvenirs. What we were experiencing was totally new, strange, and even scary at times. But for some, lockdown was a kind of once-in-a-lifetime experience. Families reuniting, couples sharing unique moments and others being able to focus on their true aspirations," says Martin Cregut. "Within 24 hours we set up the site and launched the idea. The photographers were happy to have the chance to work and we donated all our profits to SOS EPHAD, an association supported by the Alzheimer's Foundation.” he adds.

In the first week, the PicMe trio received more than one hundred customer orders from all over the world. To publicize the idea, the start-up had the support of the NEOMA community. “We set up a Facebook group to recruit ambassadors from the School to promote our idea in a number of cities in France, such as Metz, Bordeaux, Lyon, Besançon, Dijon, Lille and Nice. This was a great help," recalls Martin.

Adapting and dealing with new constraints

Regarding technical aspects, the founders of PicMe also needed to modify their traditional ways of working. “In order to respect the health barrier measures, we abandoned the use of paper. Customers were sent an e-mail with an QR code that was scanned by the photographer using a phone when they arrived to carry out the service.

The procedure for taking the photograph was also radically modified. Photographers did not enter the client's home and pictures were taken outside, mostly on the doorstep.

picme porte
“These photo-shoots were really special", say the founders of PicMe. "According to feedback from the photographers, there were both moments of fun and also more solemn scenes. There were crazy outfits, 25-year lockdown wedding anniversaries, comedy scenarios... Something really caught on during this operation“

picme mosaique

Making the most of lockdown

Turning threats into opportunities is the start-up mantra for many. The founders of PicMe really have been pragmatic in applying this rule.
Lockdown gave us the time contact our photographers and tell them about our idea. We have really worked on prospecting and acquiring new professionals.

In addition to the commercial aspect, the entrepreneurial trio are looking to take their ideas even further. “This experience has also made us think more about the home photography market. Although this isn't our main business activity, it is an area worth looking into. If we want to continue to operate, we need plan Bs. We are looking at a number of ideas, such as professional sales photos for goods (luxury objects, real estate, cars...). And as it doesn't look like there will be many foreign visitors this summer, we are going to develop our French clientele.