It’s not enough to live every moment; we have to share them with our hundreds of social followers, too.
And, photos are essential. Pics or it didn’t happen, right?
Dallas-based Mendr wants to restore some of our time in the real world, passing the burden of getting your photos “social media ready” to the professionals who can shape them up in minutes.
“When you’re at the wedding, when you are at the Thanksgiving event with your family, rather than sitting in the corner and messing with the photo and changing it, what we want people to say to each other is just ‘mend it,’” said the startup’s CEO and co-founder Joshua Farrar.
Through Mendr’s digital platform, users can upload a photo from their phone’s camera roll, select changes they want made, and send it off to be tweaked by an experienced photo editor.
From taming a stray piece of unruly hair to removing photo bombers in the background, users can be as detailed in their directions as they please through preset edit options and personalized messages.
Costs can vary from $2-$30 depending on the extent of the edits requested. A job such as removing cracks from an old picture or color restoration would be on the high end.
“Those kind of jobs are really time consuming for editors. It’s a premium service so those things can go up in cost,” Farrar said.
A FREELANCING PLATFORM FOR PHOTO EDITORS
And respecting photo editors’ time is of particular importance to Mendr. It is as much a photo editing app as it is a freelancer platform, after all.
Farrar’s friend, Pat Thibodeau, a former fuel industry CFO who pursued photography in his free time, came up with the idea.
Curious, Thibodeau looked into ways to find photo editing projects he could do on the side. What he found were catch-all sites lumping photo jobs with other digital freelancing and places such as Reddit’s sub threads, where photo experts would transform a photo for praise rather than dollars.
If compensation was involved, many times freelancers had to enter into a bidding war doing the work up front and having a slim chance of winning out.
“That’s a big headache that their creative time and effort isn’t being given a wage — it heavily favors the customer,” Farrar said.
When Farrar, Thibodeau, and Mendr’s third co-founder, Parker Benda, started the company about a year ago, the goal was to develop a platform where photo editors could find paying work that used their time wisely.
“This is bigger than what you think it’s going to be, it has a viral component, a social component to it.”
Mendr turned to SevenTablets, an Addison-based mobile app development company, to produce it. The app will officially go live for Android and IOS devices March 10 during the company’s launch party.
SevenTablets founder and CEO Kishore Khandavalli was so drawn to the project, he decided to make his company an equity partner.
“This is bigger than what you think it’s going to be, it has a viral component, a social component to it,” Khandavalli remembers telling Farrar.
Including SevenTablets’ investment, Mendr has raised more than $500,000, so far, Farrar said.
IT’S A ‘CRAFTSOURCING’ COMPANY
Mendr editors will come from all over the nation, and eventually the world, Farrar said. Currently, the startup has about 30 editors on board during its beta testing.
The freelancing team will grow, but Farrar said not just anyone can sign up. Editors must qualify by passing skills tests and be up to par with Mendr’s standards for quality.
“We need to make sure, there’s some kind of uniform standards for what’s an aesthetically, respectable edit, so that editors get aligned,” Farrar said.
While some might be quick to compare Mendr’s freelance labor model to other on-demand service companies, Farrar is quick to clarify that Mendr is not a crowdsourcing company.
“To source something from the crowd, is to ask the masses to do it,” he said. “We’re working with creatives who have a developed skill.”
Instead, he said, think “craftsourcing.”
“The word, ‘craft’ is a reminder that we don’t think of the people who work as Mendr editors as laborers, we think of them as freelance creatives,” Farrar said.
The company has gone as far as enlisting University of Southern California assistant professor and crowdsourcing expert Daren Brabham to help it understand the “psychology of entering this space,” Farrar said.
“To source something from the crowd, is to ask the masses to do it. We’re working with creatives who have a developed skill.”
“What he’s taught us is when you start paying them, the distraction of the monetary element can consume what was a passion for them, so it’s really tricky. You want to integrate other elements for them that reengage the passion element,” Farrar said.
Mendr will introduce more competitive elements for editors to show off their skills and opportunities to help in training others new to the app. Brabham’s research also advised Mendr’s compensation system.
Editors will make 40 percent of each photo job, with potential to reach up to a 51 percent take if they prove a certain level of quality and activity in Mendr’s point system. They also have an option to receive a bonus or “direct edit fee” when Mendr users request them specifically.
“I want to be a part of a turning in the industry that actually is a little bit less aggressive with its margins so that it can be a little bit more respectful of the humans involved in it,” Farrar said.
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