Benji Lanyado is the Founder of Picfair – an alternative stock image library that sources a new generation of images from thousands of emerging photographers across the globe.
WHAT LED YOU TO START WORKING IN DIGITAL/MEDIA PUBLISHING?
It was working as a travel journalist for The New York Times when I was consistently frustrated with the homogeneous, inauthentic stock images that were my only choices, every day. I wanted to build an open-to-all marketplace that helps publishers and businesses access the millions of incredible images being produced every day on social media and beyond – most of which aren’t getting to market. Four years later … Picfair now has over 5 million images uploaded by over 28,000 photographers in 132 countries! We’re gradually introducing ourselves to publishers across the globe, and the initial response has been really exciting.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
There’s no such thing! One of the most exciting things about running an early-stage startup is that every day is different. So, in no particular order, a day might include planning new products with my engineers; working with the sales team on new strategy and target verticals; liaising with investors on progress; interviewing for new open roles in marketing and engineering; planning distribution strategy with our library manager; managing social media campaigns around our Women Behind The Lens competition; coordinating trade shows and PR campaigns; making sure there’s plenty of food and drinks in the office for the team … I could go on and on! And the personal bits: when I’m not working, I like to agonise over West Ham’s terrible form, go out to dinner (Indian and Portuguese, ahem, Nandos) with my fiancee, go to the gym, or go to the pub.
WHAT’S YOUR WORK SETUP LIKE?
I use a MacBook Pro plugged into a big monitor. For work, I’d fall apart if it wasn’t for the Clear app synced between my phone and my Mac – I frequently wake up with half a dozen ideas/things I need to do that I’ve written on there in the middle of the night and totally forgotten. For basic productivity, Slack and Trello are crucial for managing my team and processes.
WHAT DO YOU DO OR GO TO GET INSPIRED?
Go to the gym – the energy makes me want to do more stuff. Also having drinks with clever people – a glass of wine and a good mind usually yields some good ideas.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PIECE OF WRITING OR QUOTE?
“Tomorrow we’ll run faster…” from the Great Gatsby.
WHAT’S THE PASSIONATE PROBLEM YOU ARE TACKLING AT THE MOMENT?
Making the image industry fairer. The image licensing industry is the most exploitative industry you’ve never heard of. The rake taken by licensing middlemen stands alone in global online business – on average, they take 74% of the royalties they generate away from the photographers whose images they are selling. Yep, 74%. Picfair is reversing this, creating the world’s only open-to-all image marketplace, where the photographers set their prices and get what they ask for. If we pull this off, in the face of multi-billion-dollar incumbents, we’ll have transformed an entire creative sector. We believe in a future where creativity is rewarded, not exploited.
IS THERE A PRODUCT, SOLUTION, THAT YOU THINK IS A GOOD MATCH FOR YOUR DIGITAL PUBLISHING EFFORTS?
We use Cloudinary for our digital image hosting, CDN and transformations. Worth a look.
ANY ADVICE FOR AMBITIOUS DIGITAL PUBLISHING AND MEDIA PROFESSIONALS JUST STARTING OUT?
Optimise for happiness, and don’t let yourself be frustrated. If your current job is inhibiting your ambition, leave that job.