Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, 500px‘s new offices are expansive, impressive and just as laden with exposed brick and beams as anything you’ll see south of Market in San Francisco. When we visited last week, they’d only been there a few days, and only about a quarter of the space was set up, but even so it was impressive, and fitting for a startup that’s been on a tear since its seed funding round in 2011.
We talked to 500px CEO Oleg Gutsol in his new digs, about the just-launched 500pxArt.com, where users can buy customized prints of works licensed by photographers on the site (at a commission rate that’s well above the industry average). We also discussed how the site plans to use 2014 as a growth year by iterating product geared towards the average consumer, rather than the professional photog.
500px has raised a total of just under $10 million to date via its Seed round and Series A, which included Andreessen Horowitz and Harrison Metal, and it’s been putting that funding to good use, with two acquisitions in 2012. Now, the plan is to reach out beyond its core demographic of photo pros and advanced enthusiasts, in order to help make sure it doesn’t hit a growth plateau. Gutsol says he believes there’s a big opportunity there, in making everyday pictures feel bigger-than-life with a truly remarkable online portfolio tool. Google is trying to accomplish the same thing with Google+ photos, and Flickr also does it to some extent, but Gutsol still doesn’t believe the need is being served well by any existing solution.
There’s also going to be a push into providing paid creative for companies to use in media and advertising. Gutsol says that this too is an areas where existing solutions fall flat, providing either stock photos that are not original or interesting, or custom shoots that are overly expensive for most businesses to even consider using.
To fill up its spacious new offices, 500px is looking to bring on new talent across all areas. This is definitely one of the hottest Canadian tech companies currently operating, and now it’s got a proper space to reflect its ambitious goals.