The Soaring Success of Flytographer

Source: Douglas Magazine
Author: Susan Hollis

The Soaring Success of Flytographer

Nicole Smith had a problem getting great vacation photos, so she launched Flytographer and scaled it into the world’s largest and most innovative vacation photography platform.

Good ideas are uncomfortable beasts. They don’t sit politely — they spring ahead, loud and ready to be seen. Even when you ignore them, they fuss in the background with the perseverance of toddlers wanting dessert. This is what Flytographer founder Nicole Smith experienced when she came up with the idea for a business built around vacation photography. Frustrated by the quality of photos she and her friend were taking on their 2011 trip to Paris, Smith realized if a photographer were to meet them for a short time, they could easily capture the best of their trip and secure powerful mementos of the weekend. So they called a third friend to take casual street photos of the two of them — and the resulting snapshots became treasured souvenirs.

Upon returning home, the idea for a vacation photography business percolated. Despite trying to ignore it, Smith found herself walking towards it backwards, securing the URL “just in case” and telling herself it wouldn’t hurt to gently test the concept on friends. Those initial beta sessions got rave reviews, so she used her savings to build the company, putting everything on the line for an idea that just wouldn’t go away.

VIATEC CEO Dan Gunn has been watching Smith grow Flytographer from its inception, when he first encouraged her to apply for VIATEC’s accelerator program. He says her grit and receptiveness to direction made her an excellent candidate.

“There are lots of people with interesting ideas,” says Gunn, “but the ones that actually seek help, who admit what they don’t know and are willing to work hard on what doesn’t come easily to them, are the ones with the greatest chance of doing something special.

“Her business concept at the time wasn’t the typical startup applicant we expected but we could see in her that she was brilliant, ambitious, focused and yet still coachable.”

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