Inspiration often comes when we least expect it. For KYMA founder Pierre Lambert, it was while bobbing peacefully in a small boat off the coast of Angola when two seemingly different ideas collided in his head and sent him on a journey towards changing the way photographers work.
Pierre was travelling and working his way around the world while building his photography business. But despite his best efforts, the needle just wasn’t moving fast enough.
“I was frustrated with the way that every photographer had to promote their own website and their own business online. We all know how difficult SEO is for small businesses and how much competition there is.”
During his time travelling he’d seen how easy it had become to book accommodations and travel through networks like AirBnB or booking.com, but it was during that moment at sea where the kernel for what would become KYMA finally crystallized:
If you could use a network to book a place to stay, why not a photographer as well?
The benefits of centralized networks are numerous. As a consumer, by bringing together all options into one place, you’re able to compare and select what you want and what works for your budget, timeline, and tastes.
As a business, it’s a chance to be seen by a bigger group of people—and those you know are looking to book. And, as a new business, instead of sitting on the 4th page of Google results for ‘Hotels in New York’, your small, boutique hotel gets to go toe-to-toe with the big boys.
It’s a problem for clients, not just photographers
But it wouldn’t be until months later when Pierre was preparing for his own wedding that the idea would actually come to life.
“We were looking for a photographer and I realized that for a client it was just as frustrating to find a photographer, because you actively have to talk to every one and e-mail them one-by-one. And I’m sorry, I was already e-mailing for work all the time and that was the last thing I wanted to do.”
With himself as the target customer—both as a photographer and a client—Pierre started envisioning what his ideal network would look like. Three main factors kept coming up:
- It had to be easy to use
- It had to be simple and safe
- It had to look fantastic
Let’s build a custom network. How hard could it be?
“It’s difficult to plan something from abroad. There are trust and safety issues when you’re dealing with someone directly. It might not be a scam, but problems can easily happen.”
“I’m an engineer by training but not a software engineer. I’m mechanical. so I’d never coded before,” explains Pierre. “And so I had this problem of finding someone to work with and obviously there was no budget at the beginning so it was even more difficult.”
“The first version was actually completely built by me while learning how to code. I basically took a blank sheet and said ‘I’m going to learn how to do this’. And through resources online I managed to pick it up pretty quickly.”
Half a year later ‘Version 0’ of KYMA was in the hands of clients and photographers. And while it worked for the most part (the first beta tester ever ended up getting 600 booking reminder emails!) Pierre decided it was time to go all-in and bring in the help he needed to make the product he’d always imagined.
Building ‘Version 1’
Pierre came to us in late 2015 and we connected him with Airnauts—an award-winning, powerhouse team of UI/UX designers based out of Warsaw who’ve built products currently in use by hundreds of thousands of people all over the world.
The team quickly got up to speed and started addressing Pierre’s main issues:
Making it easy to use
To make a network like this work, Pierre needed both photographers and clients, meaning he would be onboarding two very different groups with very different needs.
“People who don’t finish their profiles the first time they sign up are less likely to go back and do it again later. So I had a very, very defined idea for the onboarding process and what I wanted.”
To fill up both sides of his network, Airnauts and Pierre designed and built KYBOT—an onboarding ‘bot’ that easily guides you through the process of submitting your info, uploading portfolio pictures, and setting your rates and packages.
Making it simple to book
After his own experience booking a wedding photographer and being booked as one, Pierre knew that the platform would have to offer simple packages and one-click booking. So for clients, they had to make booking simple and easy.
“The model works like AirBnB basically. The client pays a service fee and a charity fee every time they book on the platform but what they see on a photographer’s profile is what they pay. For the photographers, what they list is what they get paid. There’s no surprises at the checkout.”
Once you’re signed into KYMA booking is as easy as clicking ‘request to book’ on your chosen photographer.
Making your photos look beautiful
Most of all, Pierre wanted a site that would do justice to the wide range of photographers that would be using it. Photographers like all artists, are incredibly visual people, and a portfolio site that didn’t meet their standards just wouldn’t work.
So Airnauts created a design that allows photographers to customize how the site looks and stays true to their personal brand.
“If you take three photographers who have different styles and look at their profiles, it almost looks like a different website. That’s something we really wanted.”
Lastly, making it meaningful
As a final addition, Pierre decided that KYMA could go beyond helping people book photographers, and help the world. So every time a client books a session on the platform a small charity fee of 1% is added on that goes towards supporting both KIVA and the Xprize foundation.
“I personally believe that if you’re making a business and you’re creating value you should also give back to the world that at one point has helped you.”
After launching the new site, Pierre reached out to his photographic network to show off his work. And in just a few months, over 350 photographers have signed up for the platform representing 50+ countries all over the world where you can quickly and easily book a photographer through KYMA.
If you’re a photographer looking for more work, or just someone looking to capture a special moment, check out the new KYMA site.
And if you’re looking to turn your own passion into a product get in touch and we’ll connect you with a team like Airnauts who can bring your idea to life.
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