Online photography startup Snappr has raised $2.5 million in seed funding from global venture capitalists including Google Maps co-founder Lars Rasmussen and Silicon Valley-based accelerator Y Combinator, and has expansion across the west coast of the US in its sights.
Founded in May 2016, Snappr provides a platform that connects photographers with clients, an offering which has proven enticing to investors: the Sydney-based startup raised an oversubscribed $500,000 pre-seed round last year, $200,000 of which was raised in under a month when Snappr was only two months old.
After heading to the US at the end of last year to participate in the Y Combinator accelerator program, the startup relocated its headquarters from Sydney to San Francisco in February this year.
It has now closed this $2.5 million seed funding round with contributions from Rasmussen, Y Combinator, Airtree Ventures, Zynga co-founder Justin Waldron, and ex-Aristocrat chief Jamie Odell adding to an existing investor base that includes Australian Test cricket captain Steve Smith.
Snappr co-founder and chief executive Matt Schiller says he is very excited about the “amazing names” that have backed the startup in this round, and says the funds will be used to develop Snappr’s product offerings while also “continuing to grow the business at the aggressive pace we have been in Australia and the US”.
The startup is currently active in nine cities across Australia, and is looking to expand its offerings beyond Silicon Valley in coming weeks, with Schiller hinting that “in the next 60 days you will see us in five cities on the west coast of the US”.
Schiller says he wants Snappr to “become a household brand” and has set his sights on further expansion in the future.
“In 12 months time we want to have close to 10 times the geographic coverage that we have today in US,” Schiller tells StartupSmart.
When StartupSmart spoke to Schiller last year, Snappr had 700 photographers who had applied to be listed on the service, but Schiller declined to comment on the size of its client base today.
An Australian’s take on Silicon Valley
Schiller says that moving to Silicon Valley “wasn’t a massive culture shock” not just because of the prevalence of Australians, but also because of its cultural similarities to Sydney.
“It’s great being an Australian here — Australian startups are getting a reputation for producing some really great startups and startup talent,” he says.
Schiller credits Y Combinator’s accelerator program for providing “the power and generosity of its network” to help quickly build Snappr’s reputation in the US, and the strength of these new networks led to the startup raising funds almost solely from inbound enquiries, Schiller says.
Yet while Snappr was “very fortunate” in the ease of this raise, Schiller observes that this isn’t necessarily an indication that raising funds in the US is easier than back home.
“I think the Australian investment scene sometimes gets a bad wrap, people are sometimes down on the amount of capital or the type of investors wanting to invest in young Australian startups,” he says.
“It’s not too helpful to think of this binary of Australian raises versus US raises.
“Our experience is that there are institutional and angel investors in Australia who are of the same calibre as the ones we have met in the US. We try to be open to great investors wherever they are located, and the fact is there are great investors in both places,” Schiller says.
For startups looking to grow their company and seek investment, Schiller says time is of the essence — something he learned from participating in the Y Combinator accelerator.
“The one thing that no startup has is all the time in the world,” he says.
“A great thing that accelerators do is really condense everything — they compress a lot of the things that can go wrong into a short period of time.”
Schiller says working in this pressure chamber “reinforces just how much can be done in a short period of time if you put your mind to it”.
“Don’t wait to do things; don’t do tomorrow what you can do today, because things don’t have to be perfect,” he says.
Schiller credits this all-in approach as the reason behind Snappr’s decision to tackle the US market less than a year after launching, to take on “the biggest photography market in the world.”
“The Australian market is work $US1 billion and the US market is work $US10 billion, just for still photography alone,” he says.
“When you launch a product or a feature for the first time it’s never going to be perfect — I’m always in favour of doing something sooner rather than later.”