An online marketplace to connect photographers to customers and a digital space for selling high quality printed products, Canvera aims to organise the largely fragmented photography industry in India.
Instagram is a preferred channel for researching photographers one would like to work with directly. While the medium may help get a feel of the photographer’s style, aspects like schedules and commercials are difficult to gauge. Canvera was set up in 2007 as a solution to these issues by Dhiraj Kacker and Peeyush Rai, armed with Kacker’s extensive experience in the field of digital imaging and from having worked with the digital photography company, Shutterfly.
Headquartered in Bengaluru, the platform provides design and software solutions (through a software-as-a-service model) to professional photographers and enables customers / users to print photo books (which are image based – tying in with everyone’s love for Instagram). “There is a gap in the industry which is what we aim to bridge,” explains Ranjit Yadav, Managing Director and CEO of Canvera, discussed issues surrounding the photography industry. The photography industry has been a largely fragmented and an unorganised sector offering loosely tied together services.
Print is not dead
In the land of the smartphones with the built-in daily accessory: a camera with inundated filtered images, one would think that print is dead. Yadav argues that there is a massive opportunity in print which is why the team at Canvera focuses on creating a marketplace for printed books, albums, calendars and posters.
“While people may have access to images on their smartphones, they may not necessarily access their gallery of images as much as they’d want to. We’re bullish about the convenience Canvera offers users – a full solution – by simplifying the whole process of uploading images and getting them printed, ready to be mounted on a canvas, framed or even printed into a photo book or calendar,” says he. Canvera delivers to the users’ doorstep within 4-5 days with a starting ticket size of Rs. 160, if users are looking at printing at album.
Technology in photography
“The photo industry is at an inflection point,” quips Yadav. “Internet proliferation is much higher than it ever was and this has led to greater appreciation of photography. It has opened up the potential of the consumer market and we are seeing massive traction for professional photographers and videographers. With greater digitisation and facial recognition technologies, there is a lot happening across the technology world for the photo industry,” explains Yadav.
It was this very push towards introducing technological solutions for the photography industry that led to a first of its kind partnership with Pixellu and Fundy Designer, world renowned album design software brands. The composed pro-design software tools have design capabilities to help build an ecosystem for photography.
In terms of leads, over the past year Canvera has grown from approximately 3,000 leads per month to 10,000 leads per month.
With regional offices in Gurgaon, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Jaipur, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad, Canvera provides domain specific services related to photography and printing. Having started with 150 professional photographers in the first year, today Canvera has over 22,000 photographers listed on its classified business.
“We use advanced imaging and printing technologies which helps users create crisp and rich photo books. Apart from photo tools which help photographers work seamlessly, we also have a separate app for photographers,” adds Yadav. The partner app (for photographers) sees around 7000 unique users a month. The consumer user app enables users to share digital versions of their photobooks and has over 60,000 users a month.
The team size is roughly 700 across India and the sales team, which is the backbone of the business, ensures photographers across India join the digital platform, provides on-time consignment deliveries and coordinates with design services teams. The revenue is based on a B2B and an advanced B2B2C model working with consumers and photographers separately. Canvera charges users for printing of photographers and photographers for using its templates or designs. Having said that the company provides free listings and premium listings which primarily aids discovery of photographers.
Building a scalable business
In 2007, Canvera received a seed funding of Rs 8.7 crore to help kick start their business. Having raised Rs 20 crore (US $3 million) led by existing investor Info Edge (India) Ltd in August, 2016, the online photography startup is not particularly looking at raising funds right now. Rather, they are focused on moving as fast as their consumers want, product-wise. In terms of leads, over the past year Canvera has grown from approximately 3,000 leads per month to 10,000 leads per month.
Throwing light on the funding landscape, Yadav explains “The froth in the market has gone, and things are a lot more difficult (in the startup ecosystem) than they were earlier. It’s the businesses which have momentum with fundamentals in place which are gaining interest from investors.” With a consumer facing business, Canvera will indeed have to focus on keeping up with the needs of the consumer in a rather competitive market. “Offering a differentiated service is of utmost importance,” quips Yadav as he signs off.
Many may say that the need of the hour in the photo industry is to build a collaborative database of stylists, makeup and hair artists and models to provide a space for photographers to collaborate with a potential team. While Canvera doesn’t have plans in place on branching out into becoming a collaborative database, they do plan to further grow their classified and pro photographers business as well as to expand their consumer facing business of transforming photos into printed products.
Founders: Dhiraj Kacker and Peeyush Rai
Managing Director: RanjitYadav
Year of incorporation: 2007
Industry: Online photography
Investors: Info Edge (India) Ltd.
Company profile: An online marketplace to connect photographers to customers (classifieds for professional photographers) and a digital space for selling high quality printed products, Canvera aims to organise the largely fragmented photography industry in India. With the photography industry finding itself at an inflection point, armed with facial recognition technologies and greater digitisation technology has played a major role for the industry.