SelfMade brings professional photo editing to your phone — yes, literally.
The startup, which is announcing that it has raised $11 million in funding, was founded by CEO Brian Schechter and CTO Zach Lloyd. Schechter was previously co-founder at IAC-acquired dating startup HowAboutWe, and he points to HowAboutWe as the starting point for his interest in photo editing.
After all, he said many of HowAboutWe’s members would have appreciated (and even paid for) help with their profile photos.
Lloyd, meanwhile, led engineering on Google Docs before creating a photo-sharing app and eventually teaming up with Schechter. Their goal is to take the professional photo editing that’s used by large brands and celebrities and make accessible to everyone else.
We aren’t just talking about applying some filters, as Schechter explained when he showed me the app. SelfMade has actually built out a team of professional photo editors, currently based in Indonesia. Users send them pictures and specify how they want them to look, then SelfMade’s team will make the requested edits. (Schechter said the turnaround time can range from a few minutes to nearly a day, depending how complicated the request is.)
And it’s not just about getting individual photos retouched. As Lloyd explained, customers “want help building their brand, too.” So SelfMade will create a mood board to nail down the visual style that the customer is looking for and offer photo ideas and other advice. There’s even a tool for posting photos to Instagram in the optimal order and timing.
If that all sounds like it goes above-and-beyond the dating use case that Schechter was started with, well, he said the service is currently designed for businesses and professionals — the kind who are willing to pay $49.99 a month (the starting price, which includes up to 12 edits) or more for good photos. Eventually, he’s hoping to offer products and pricing that are better suited to individuals.
Getting back to the funding: It comes from a seed round and a Series A, with Primary Venture Partners leading the former and FirstMark Capital leading the latter. BoxGroup, Founder Collective, CrunchFund and SV Angel also participated. (CrunchFund, like TechCrunch, was founded by Michael Arrington and is backed by TechCrunch-owner AOL/Oath.)
As for the technology powering all of this, Lloyd said most of his energy has gone into building a “pipeline” connecting the photos to “a distributed system with remote editors. (Turns out that’s not so different from collaborative productivity tools for Google, he said.) The next big challenge is taking advantage of artificial intelligence, machine learning and image processing technology to automate more of the editing process.
Schechter plans to open up SelfMade to the general public later this year, but in the meantime, you can check out some of the edited photos and compare them to the originals, then sign up for the waitlist.