Friday, May 7, 2021

Nothing is easy as it looks at the beginning

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Sabine Elsässer
Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

MisterLocation targets specifically the photo/video niche

Please introduce yourself and your startup MisterLocation to our readers!
My name is Emanuele Musarra, web developer and WordPress expert with 10 years experience in media production. I am the founder of MisterLocation, a global marketplace where photographers, filmmakers, models, agents, and creatives of all types can easily discover and book photo studios and locations.

Our marketplace currently lists more than 200 locations and we are present in 20+ cities. Plus, our community of creative professionals is growing every day.

How did you get the idea to MisterLocation?
In 2014 I was working on a small film project in Budapest, where I spent more time searching for a studio than actually shooting. First of all, looking at 99% of studio websites was like a memory lane to the 90’s internet. Second, they were all in Hungarian: maybe you know that Hungarian is – literally – a unique language. It is very different from any other European language, so searching and selecting photo studios without using Google translate was practically impossible, making the whole process extremely tedious.

Long story short, I eventually found a way and I managed to find a studio that was far from perfect but got the job done.

The whole process left me with a sensation of frustration though. I realized that there must be thousands of filmmakers and photographers in my situation. Moreover, I was sure that there were dozens of studios out there more suitable than the one I found, but it was nearly impossible to find them without being a local professional. That’s why, after a couple of years and a couple of similar episodes, I decided to create an easy-to-use platform that connects international photographers, filmmakers and other creatives with owners of photography studios and film locations across the globe.

How difficult was the start and what challenges you had to overcome?
The most difficult part is not to start, but to make things work. At the beginning it was just me and my laptop. Being a web developer, I was able to quickly set up a MVP. Plus, living in Milan, I had great expectations from the city of fashion where photo shoots are a daily occurrence. But then almost immediately I had to face several challenges. Italians, in general, are late adapters and definitely less tech savvy than other Europeans.

Even though Milan is the most modern and progressive city in Italy, even here it appeared harder than I thought to explain the concept of an online marketplace to the Italian audience.

Most of the photo studio owners I contacted via email in the beginning, expected MisterLocation to work as a traditional agency. That was a problem, because if people were not signing up and adding their locations to the website, I could not build the supply on my marketplace. Building a marketplace from scratch is very difficult because it is the classic chicken-and-egg problem: you cannot get demand if you do not have supply, and you cannot build supply if you do not show a demand. So I had to go back to old school, picking up the phone, introducing myself, asking for an appointment, visiting the location and explaining in person that I was building a marketplace for international photographers.

And that meant location owners could sign up, add their location and manage their listing themselves.

Who is your target audience?

Photographers, filmmakers, production companies, models, creatives of all types, agencies and so on. Literally every time I talked about MisterLocation with one of them I could see the excitement in their eyes. We are creating something new, we are filling a vacuum in the photo/video community so there is a lot of growth potential.

For now we are mainly focusing on Europe and the Unites States, but have the ambition to go global eventually.

What is the USP of your startup?
We believe to be the only portal that combines the following three characteristics:
MisterLocation targets specifically the photo/video niche.
MisterLocation is an actual marketplace, that means that bookings and transactions can happen directly through the website. Most of the competitors are just directories or agencies with no possibility to manage your listings and/or your bookings yourself.

For now our marketplace is mainly focusing on Europe and the Unites States, but have the ambition to go global. We have a high scalability potential.

Can you describe a typical workday of you?
Being the founder of a small company, my workdays are pretty intense. In a perfect world I would focus just on the strategy but sometimes I have (and I like) to be more operational. First I take care of the emails and, if needed, I answer directly to the customers, since customer care is one of the cornerstones of our service. Then I have a look at all the analytics instruments to gather data, draw conclusions and adapt the strategy if needed.

Then I open Slack: if there are prioritary issues I discuss them with my co-founder. If there is some technical implementation or fix to the platform to do, I get in touch with the developers or I do it myself if I have time, most of the times I find that enjoyable. I also get in touch with the SEO and marketing experts and we work on daily tasks, according to the calendar.

When there are unexpected events (and often there are) I have to make them fit in my day as well.

Where do you see yourself and your startup MisterLocation in five years?
Ok let me look at my crystal ball…. Just kidding, but seriously, the way we are growing is very promising. We now list 200+ locations in 20+ cities and we barely started with marketing! I am confident saying that, if this trend continues, in five years we will be the leading community for photo studios and locations market worldwide, possibly having scaled to other production services.

What 3 tips would you give other start-up founders on the way?
I think that the three pillars on which MisterLocation has been built so far are:
Done is better than perfect.
Nothing is easy as it looks at the beginning.
As much as you can be good, you cannot do it alone.

I firmly believe in those mottos, I think they apply to every startup today and, more in general, to life.

More information you will find here

Thank you Emanuele Musarra for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

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