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Simon Moss gave a personal, thrilling recount of his entreprenurial journey. Photo courtesy Clare Treston.

Simon Moss on photography, product market fit and the entrepreneur’s journey

On his entrepreneurial motivation, midway through another kickass Creative³ presentation, Simon Moss has to pause. He’s explaining how, after fifteen years working with technology startups, a stroke provided an out-of-body experience and the certainty that “if he gets out this, he’ll never work for another company again”.

Now, Moss’ enthusiasm for individualism and the creative industries is infectious. With ImageBrief he has created a profitable solution to the very real, ongoing crisis in the photography industry.

In direct contrast to stock imagery sites, ImageBrief matches specific image requests and briefs from global advertising agencies, publishing companies and brands to a global network of over 18,000 professional photographers. Photographers respond with tailored, “hyperlocal” images, and buyers are then free to choose and arrange contracts.

On ImageBrief’s success in the “two-sided” photography marketplace, Moss’ passion for photographers and their ability to survive off their craft ramps up.

“We pay photographers double the industry average commission,” Moss says. “Allowing them to monetise the vital asset is a massive thing.”

“They’re the guys getting slammed over the last twenty, thirty years through the monopoly, duopoly of companies,” he says. “That’s all been a big price compression, the economics of that model doesn’t make sense; it’s not possible to have a living as a photographer.

On the buyers’ side, Moss believes that authenticity in the creative industries is once again becoming valued and the platform’s interactive global network has encouraged more engaging, personal photography in the face of generic imagery.

“Everyone’s bored of people telling their story with cheesy stock imagery,” Moss says. “Like the girl with the headset on, the hands together, all the same sort of stuff.

“People want to tell authentic stories for their brands, that’s not cheesy, teethy, beautiful looking people,” he says. “It’s everyday people that look like me and you and us.”

These represent practical examples of product market fit, another theme in Moss’ presentation. In developing ImageBrief, Moss listened to and extrapolated growing market needs, specifically the crash of profitable photography “during the GFC and rise of Apple”. He further emphasised a “relentless focus on product” and building something workable prior to marketing and distribution.

After relocating from Brisbane to New York, Moss has experienced a much stronger and connected entrepreneurial scene. He believes that while local entrepreneurs rely on networking events to grow their ideas, there is a broader problem in Brisbane with communication between entrepreneurs, developers and investors that leaves too many good ideas floundering without adequate support.

“You’ve got things like Angel List where you have investors and entrepreneurs, but there’s no kind of Tinder for startups…should we do that?” he smiles. “Maybe there [should be] a report or something that comes out for the Australian investor community about new ideas.”

“Because there’s one in New York called New York [Venture Capital] Almanac, and it’s about who’s invested in what, how much did they invest, it’s all part of the information,” he says. “Why isn’t there one here being distributed to entrepreneurs so they can keep an eye on the funds that they might want to approach?

“People have a mentality there to connect and it’s not really like that with most people here at the moment.”

Finally, on on succeeding as an entrepreneur, Moss characteristically emphasises coaching and confidence.

“Before the entrepreneurs or people with business ideas get to pitch to investors, they need to be coached,” Moss says. “Otherwise they get in front of the investors and all of a sudden they bore the investors, they’re talking a whole lot of bullshit metrics that no one’s going to believe, and people need help, I believe, on ‘how do I get myself ready to pitch’,”

“Because I just keep meeting people who say ‘I’ve got this idea’ and then I meet an engineer who says ‘I really want to build something’,” he says. “People are, and I understand why because I was like this as well, really nervous about telling people about their ideas.”

“Fucking tell everyone,” he says. “There’s no mortgage on good ideas, everybody’s got one, it’s about the execution.”

About Chris Woods

Chris Woods (@tophermwoods) is the Tech Street Journal's Editor-in-Chief. He lives in Brisbane, has worked in places like Sydney and New York (State of), and will someday update his media-news blog.