Everybody calls themselves the ‘Uber of X’ these days, but Repixl has definitely caught the Uber bug. The U.K. startup has pivoted from offering a simple consumer-facing photo website that let anybody upload their photos to be retouched for a fixed fee, to something more akin to a fully-fledged ‘on-demand’ service that lets individuals and companies outsource their image editing needs to Repixl’s community of photo editors.
“The ‘old’ Repixl… was ostensibly just a slick user interface between an outsourced service provider and the general public,” says Repixl co-founder James Bradley. “The value that it offered was in the method of delivering the service – in using web technologies to upload images and choose editing services in lieu of the traditional FTP/email tools. We were running on a pile-it-high, sell-it-cheap business model, which initially looked to be operating well.”
But over time Repixl discovered that both the model itself and competing solely on price didn’t scale particularly well, not least because the company it actually sent the photo retouching work to couldn’t keep up with demand or maintain quality control. The startup also found marketing and sales costs increased a lot over time, thanks to a saturated market, and retention was also a problem due to individual consumers having sporadic photo editing needs.
The solution — and pivot in the making — appears to be one that taps into the ‘on-demand’ or so-called ‘gig economy’ and has seen Repixl build its own network of freelance photo editing professionals who benefit from a flexible and potentially unlimited pipeline of work.
And to address the demand-side problem, the company is targeting the service at individuals and companies who have on-going photo editing needs, such as e-commerce companies who need images clipped and standardised or realtors who need images straightening, although one-off jobs can be catered for too.
“Our software provides these editors with a place that they can work just as if they were in employment, but allows them to come and go as they please,” explains Bradley. “We measure each editor’s performance across a range of metrics, and use that to intelligently match the right jobs with the best editors, from all around the world.”
Meanwhile, the inspiration for Repixl’s pivot can be at least partially credited to Uber. “Since starting this, I’ve spent most Uber rides asking the driver what motivates them to be an Uber over an employed driver,” he says. “Every single time it has been the flexibility; they tell me that they earn the same per hour as they did before, but now they can do it whenever they like.”
However, since Repixl is a service that is delivered entirely digitally, unlike operating a ride-sharing behemoth, there are no physical restrictions for clients or those carrying out the work. “If you’re good at restoring damaged images, you can open your laptop whenever you like and have a constant stream of work from all round the world,” says Bradley.