Berlin-based photography startup EyeEm raises $6m from Earlybird

Michelle Kuepper 2013-07-17 9

EyeEm, the Berlin-based photography startup, has announced a $6m funding round from Earlybird Venture Capital, with existing investors Wellington Partners and Passion Capital contributing to the round.

EyeEm claims it is the world’s first mobile photography community and marketplace. The company will use the funding to internationalise and build a mobile photography marketplace for users to sell their images to clients, marketers and brands – beginning to turn the still-free service into a business.

In October last year the company reached one million downloads. Meissner told us that, since then, the app has grown by an impressive one million users per month, making it a prime time to monetise the service.

So far, EyeEm has been working with Lufthansa, Redbull and Vice Magazine to crowdsource images from the community. Founder Florian Meissner told us that the success of these campaigns was a major reason EyeEm was able to attract new investors in this funding round.

In contrast to major competitor Instagram, EyeEm stresses that its users own the rights to their images, with marketers and brands purchasing them directly from the photographers. EyeEm wants to be “more beneficial for the photographer”, but did not provide further details.

Meissner thinks this is something that helps them compete with the giant: “What happened to Instagram is, once they announced their terms of service and made a clear standpoint on actually grabbing one royalty-free license from every single fool that muddled into the service, they made a clear move away from being a photography platform.

“We catch the public eye of a generation of photographers. We call them ‘no togs’ – people who take pictures in everyday situations and have no idea they are creating commercial value.”

Fitting with its new business model, EyeEm wants to make it easy for users and marketers to search for appropriate images by offering “smart tagging” and automatically categorising uploaded photos.

Jason Whitmire, Partner at Earlybird, commented on the funding: “We see the passion in the fanatical photography community and the opportunity to expand the $5bn stock photography and $12bn commissioned photography market and provide brands with high quality and authentic images, and photographers with much greater exposure.”

Available on iOS and Android, EyeEm is now live in 13o countries and, over the next few months, plans on adding another 15 languages to the 20 it’s already available in. The majority of its users are in the US, followed by Japan – Meissner tells us that’s where it’s experiencing the most growth. Brazil, Russia and Turkey are other large markets for the app.

Image credit: Flickr user  Zach Dischner

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