What is Instathat and how does it work?
We offer live Instagram printers for weddings and events. We set up a printer that instantly prints photos from Instagram, so it’s called Instathat. We also set up a custom hashtag for events, and on the day all photos are printed and surrounded by the artwork or branding of the client.
h3>How did you fund the business in the beginning? You had a previous photo booth business didn’t you?
My husband and I still own a national photo booth business; we started that as the first photo booth rental business in Queensland in 2007. Lauren became one of my customers when I first started that business. We became great friends and learnt that we worked really well together, and while photo booths are great they’ve also been done, so when Lauren came to me with this idea it was obvious where we were headed. As we’d already been in business everything was self-funded.
You’ve got 11 offices in Australia now – how did you grow the business?
We looked at franchising but settled on licensing. While there’s a lot less corporate governance than franchising, some of the same principles remain, such as the ability to use the business name, trademark or agreement. So when we sell a license to a customer they’re basically buying a business in a box, and we can assist them in every aspect of the business in many ways but we don’t dictate to them the prices they need to charge or the marketing they have to do and we don’t do any marketing for them.
Are you concerned that this could be a fad?
We’re not worried about it but that’s certainly one of the challenges of our business. We’re not a dry cleaner, we can’t just set up shop and think people are going to need their clothes dry cleaned in 10 or 20 years. We had a great run with photobooths, at our peak we were doing 3000 events per year, and our Instagram printers are still certainly very new. We’re definitely going to ride that wave but we’re also developing new products.
How do you make sure that you stand out?
One of our biggest points of difference is the superior level of service we provide. If we had a growth explosion and hired lots of casual staff to man our events, our service levels would drop exponentially and so would our reputation. We’ve learnt that by having each of our locations independently owned and operated by licensees, that we can provide incredible service to all of our customers. When the person running the local office has skin in the game so to speak – if they let a customer down, it’s their business that is affected.
So at most of our events Australia-wide you will find our local licensee on-site. It means slow but steady growth, all the while building a very solid reputation for our brand. This is what has kept us in this industry for nine years, and what will hold us in good stead for the future. Our aim has never been to be the biggest, our aim has always been to be the best so we make sure our service is the best we can possibly provide.
What are your challenges at the moment?
We operate a very lean business so we don’t have big marketing budgets and we’re very hands on. That means that while Lauren and I head up the business, we’re also out overseeing events every week and every weekend. The biggest challenge is literally not enough hours in the day!
How do you try and manage that?
I’ve got three-year-old twins and a five-year-old too so I’m pretty busy! But we are very lucky – Lauren and I make great business partners. She’s the creative brain, I’m the administrative and behind the scenes brain. We’ve learnt not be too hard on ourselves as there are only 24 hours in a day and there’s only so much we can do. We’ve learnt to stop beating ourselves up about the stuff we don’t get to.
What are your tips for success?
The very first question to ask is, is it really a great business idea? Take a good hard look at it and figure out what’s viable. The second thing is to take negative comments with a grain of salt. For us, there have been people who think they could do our business but it’s worth just waiting to see who will actually come through with the goods to see if they are going to become competitors.
Every day, KBB’s Dannie Doughan chats with an entrepreneur and features their story on our website. If your business wants a ‘Date with Dannie’, email us a quick bit about your biz!