With U.S. In Its Viewfinder, Stock Photo Marketplace Foap Raises $1.5M

Sweden’s Foap, which offers an iPhone app to let users upload and sell their photos through the company’s stock photo marketplace, has raised a further $1.5 million in funding to bolster its sales efforts, and expand to the U.S.

The new capital comes from Swedish VC Industrifonden, and Maxwell Ventures, adding to the $900K the startup had already raised. Previous investors include Roland Zeller, Founder of Travel Window and also an investor in GetYourGuide, and Sami Douz, a professional poker player.

Meanwhile, the planned U.S. expansion will include opening an office in New York, pegged for September.

Launched in 2012, Foap is one of a plethora of startups aiming to disrupt the stock photo industry by taking advantage of the prolification of smartphone cameras. The iPhone app — with an Android version to follow next month — lets so-called iPhoneographers monetize their photos by selling them through Foap’s marketplace at $10 a pop and keeping 50% of the revenue.

Meanwhile, on the buyer side, Foap is being pitched to those seeking natural looking photos with a “local feel” for commercial or editorial purposes. These could be publishers looking to use photos in a story or brands needing imagery for an ad or promotional campaign.

So far, the company says that 5.7 million images have been uploaded to the Foap Market, though its not clear how many of these have been sold.

In addition to being able to search and browse the Foap Market for photos to purchase, in March the startup introduced “Foap Missions”, a feature that enables brands to define a photographic brief (e.g. take a picture of X in Y) and set a cash prize for the winning entry, as well as purchase any of the entries at the standard price of $10. It’s both a way of commissioning specific images by utilising a reverse marketplace model, and also a form of engagement marketing.

Mobile photo sharing app EyeEm launched a similar initiative last November, and competitor Scoopshot also lets buyers create local, national and global photo “assignments”, which users then respond to by taking and uploading photos that meet the brief and get a cut of any subsequent revenue generated if the photo is bought.

To date, brands such as Puma, Lavazza, VisitSweden and Rebtel have run Foap missions, while the company cites global fashion brand Mango, which saw over 2500 images submitted within 48 hours after requesting users submit images with a summer theme.

In a statement, David Los, co-founder of Foap, comments on the new funding: “This round is the most important in the short history of the company. We’re at a point where we need to maintain the growth we’ve experience so far and to build on this even further. Taking our first steps into the U.S. is a major part of this and we’re looking forward to working with more brands to help them reward their community of fans”.