I’ve seen many emails, messages and comments on social media asking the same question, “What happened with Hipture?” Couldn’t reply to everyone the first few days because I had to process and finalize everything in my head first. A journey that started in January 2015 took a very unexpected turn, but..
First Thing’s first
What is Hipture? Hipture is a project that I had a privilege of managing. Long story short, this is a wall decor company that was focusing on printing pictures directly from Instagram via Hipture App in high-quality frames. You can find all the details here.
Everything looked promising: Kickstarter got funded the first two days, we sponsored Socality Live Event in San Diego and got a lot of great feedback from influential Instagrammers and people around the community. Overall we sent out over 200 prints to people with large following groups in different areas of interest- Adventure lovers, Professional photographers, Pet owners, Mom-bloggers, etc. Everyone loved the idea and the quality so they got on board to promote the app.
The Side Note
While all this was great and brought butterflies to our stomachs, in the meantime, something else was going on in the core of Hipture, something that we thought was missing in the market: a way to monetize Instagram accounts! The idea is simple: there are many people with stunning pictures and lots of followers, but there are not many ways to make any profit out of it. Occasionally a random brand would offer collaboration, but even then the reward would come in a form of free product. With the second version of the app, we wanted to introduce marketplace, where those pictures would be purchased. Creatives could keep doing what they do best: travel and take pictures while Hipture sent money per every framed picture purchased.
After a few days of testing and few deep analysis sessions, we realized the following:
– Kickstarter is not the best platform for us. It’s great for a ready-to-go product, while we would require downloading the app, going through several steps and only then receiving the item. Many people we talked to were asking for the app to order prints, we had to send them to Kickstarter. That is probably one of the reasons for small conversion rate.
- We missed our target audience. Majority of the people we reached through the instagram community were not the same people who decorate the walls in their house. It would be their wives, parents or somebody else, but not them specifically.
- We moved too fast too quickly. Most of the eggs ended up in one basket (monetization idea) which just felt apart. In the startup world this is totally normal, but the weight of the big production warehouse and all the equipment was too much to hold on to.
The Big Question
Realizing these few but major mistakes was crucial. First of all, we’d have to change the target audience and adjust marketing strategy. Secondly, we’d have to rethink the future of Hipture. With disqualified minimization idea, Hipture, would primarily have to stay as a printing and decor business. This would be acceptable if we did not have a warehouse loaded with very expensive equipment. To start covering bills, sales would have to skyrocket fast so traditional marketing here wouldn’t work.
Monday morning, August 10th we had a small circle meeting. Agenda was simple but very difficult at the same time- Hipture: to be or not to be? I was given three hours to think and decide. Probably one of the most difficult decisions I had to make in a long time. Just think about it, we spent seven months working on it, big amount of money was invested in marketing, facility building and supplying, an app developed, product samples sent, etc.
After lunch, we met up again. Won’t go into all the details, but I can tell for sure that for me that decision meant more than you can imagine. Hipture was closed. I didn’t realize until then how much I was emotionally attached to it. Same evening I almost changed my mind and wanted to go back and stick to it and keep pushing Hipture out to the market. A million “what if’s” went through my head, but at the end I knew that it was the right decision.
Live and Learn
The choice was not between whether or not to close Hipture. Options were: a) not to close it, build a new team and try to grow slowly into the good profitable small business, or b) close it and join the Picr team (a new company we had for the past several weeks. Think of it as an analog of AirBnB that will revolutionize the industry of photography). So as right now, I am a UX Designer and fully believe in success of this project. I am sure I will be posting, snapping and blogging more about it as we launch.
My boss likes to say, “fail often, fail fast”. This will help eliminate directions which are not leading you to success. I hope we didn’t leave anyone upset. All backers got their money back, and all influencers got their compensations. I learned many things through this, but this blog post is already long enough and I’d like to end with the quote I started with:
Thanks for your understanding and support! If I missed anything, let me know in the comment section, via contact form, or just text me.