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Interview with a Successful Startup Founder

Growing a Photobooth Startup to Six Figures per Month

Brandon Wong
Brandon Wong
December 14, 2021
Category of startup
Services
Country of startup
United States
Revenue of startups
$100k-$500k/mo
Interview with a Failed Startup Founder

Growing a Photobooth Startup to Six Figures per Month

Brandon Wong
Brandon Wong
December 14, 2021
Category of startup
Services
Country of startup
United States
Cause of failure of the startup

Brandon co-founded Photobooth Supply, a service to help you build a profitable photo booth business. After 8 years, they are generating six figures in revenue per month and are getting a 97% customer satisfaction rating while entirely bootstrapped.

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Hi Brandon! Who are you and what are you currently working on?

I’m Brandon Wong, CEO and founder of Photobooth Supply Co. We provide a business opportunity in the form of a photobooth, which allows you to record memories while earning a substantial profit.

The event sector is flourishing in this experience economy, and photo booths are the fastest-growing segment. Between 2005 and 2012, more individuals looked for photo booth rentals on the internet than wedding DJs. 

And we don't only capture gorgeous images; we also make videos, boomerangs, GIFs, and more. This is easily shareable on social media.

Photobooth Supply Product

The fact that we've changed the lives of over 1,000 individuals is the most significant aspect of what we do. For me, it's not about the money; it's about the fact that the firm my wife and I founded has provided so many excellent possibilities for individuals to reach their full potential while having a great time doing so.

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

My wife and I used to shoot weddings. You've undoubtedly seen a photobooth if you've recently attended a wedding.

Many years ago, we noticed booths all over the place and thought to ourselves, "Why not get one of those?" We purchased the "old" type photobooth. It became evident that it wasn't very portable, and the photographs weren't beautiful.

I reached out to a couple of metal vendors in Orange County, asking if they could put anything together for me. I needed something slim and portable, but it had to be able to shoot beautiful photos as well.

My wife and I worked for weeks on getting the images right, and we created a few interesting-looking prototypes in the meantime. Our friends immediately approached us, asking if we could put something together for them as well.

So we secured a place at the world's largest wedding photography show which was set to take place in three weeks.

We built a website, branding, promotional videos, a trade show exhibit, a prototype unit, a sales pitch, pricing, and everything else in that time frame. We sold over ten booths at the exhibition and quadrupled that amount the following week. We manually delivered one of the booths to a customer in Vegas a month later, and I used the money to purchase an engagement ring. Six months later, we were married.

After that tradeshow, we just kept putting in the effort to offer additional resources and value to assist our clients in generating more money: marketing materials, sample contracts, training videos, instructional webinars, and other resources.

We went from selling photo booths to selling a complete business opportunity in a short period, all without any franchise fees or the requirement for an initial financial commitment.

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How did you go from idea to product?

Our photography business was not scalable, and we struck a revenue ceiling that was difficult to overcome. The only way to get around this was to create more services. This is, of course, where the photobooth came into play.

Dieter Rams, the great product designer, was a significant inspiration. We started with the booth's required electronics (computer, touch screen, camera, flash, printer, etc.). We designed a product that was the most beautiful embodiment of those components: nothing more and nothing else.

We ran a fast Google search for a nearby fabricator to make our first alpha device. We completed a couple of quick prototypes in the three weeks coming up to our first trade exhibition. We began as simply as possible and progressed from there. These rapid iterations helped us go to market faster and allowed us to do numerous rounds of UX testing, resulting in a better product.

We started using Squarespace to develop the website, which is by far the easiest, cheapest, and most attractive web design option I've ever tried. After two years of using it, we moved to Shopify due to its extensions and powerful backend.

Photobooth Supply Landing Page

Which were your marketing strategies to grow your business?

We had two primary sales channels. We participate in tradeshows to get clients, and we have a strong SEO presence.

A tradeshow is like having instant access to hundreds or thousands of hot leads while every rival is standing right next to you. It's harsh, draining, and amazing all at the same time.

As a product, you must stand out. We could spend $10,000 on a location and another $10,000 on staff and set up supplies. The margins become much tighter, but if you choose good shows, the kinds that your current consumers enjoy, you'll do well.

The best tradeshow-selection tip I can give is to simply ask your clients where they'll be and go there. Partly to sell, and partially to meet your customers face to face. You can never devote enough time to learning about your clients. Learning how to serve others with what you do is the most valuable time you can spend on your business.

SEO is a complicated world to understand. I recommend hiring the best person you can and allowing them to focus on their strengths.

Sometimes this entails bringing the service in-house, and other times you need an outside agency. The ROI here is huge for us. It all comes back to what I stated before about choosing the tradeshow where your clients would be. Choose the communication channel that your clients prefer.

How are you doing today and what are your goals for the future?

We are generating six figures in revenue per month. The post-support questionnaires we send out have a 97 percent customer satisfaction rating. All of this is the result of our focus on the customer experience.

My biggest concern was that booths would be only a trend, but it isn't the case. Since its start, our startup has grown every year. This growth came not only from private parties but from retail establishments, restaurants, nightclubs, and any other place where people congregate.

The future seems promising. We haven’t been sitting around doing anything; in fact, we've already begun beta testing on a new product for an entirely new segment.

Photobooth Supply Printed Images

Since starting Photobooth Supply, what have been your main lessons?

I'm a firm believer in saying yes and figuring it out later. Stop overthinking and start acting. The more you allow things to slow you down, the more things will be able to slow you down. It's alright to be irrational sometimes!

You must establish a routine. You'll most likely be working from home. Building a habit for yourself might help you become more productive.

Segmenting your web browsers is a smart idea. For business, use Chrome, while for personal stuff, use Firefox. It saves you a lot of time and prevents you from spending your time on Reddit rather than working!

It's also tough to expand your business without first figuring out what it's missing. To do so, you must first recognize your strengths and weaknesses.

What tools & resources do you recommend?

We use Shopify to host our online store, Zendesk for customer service, and HubSpot for CRM.

Make use of the best tools available. It's never worth putting your entire company on hold to save $10 or $20 a month on a worse platform.

We cut whatever we aren't using. As soon as Instagram added scheduling options, we broke up with Later. We recently discontinued our VOIP platform in favor of HubSpot's recorded calls, which were much smoother.

We now have over 15 team members who work from home. Fortunately, we use platforms like Slack, Flow, Google Hangouts, and Google Drive to keep communication and tasks transparent across the company, even though we aren't physically next to each other.

I recommend 3 books for entrepreneurs:

How to Win Friends and Influence People - For sales, fundraising, attracting influencers, and being an all-around badass.

Zero To One - To encourage you to think bigger. Simply by forcing you to think from a different perspective, this book has the potential to double the size of your business tenfold.

Building Your Storybrand - Best marketing book I’ve ever read.

Where can we go to learn more?

You can check our website, our Instagram, and our Twitter.

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