New Orleans-based real estate networking company Stilio aims to bring realtors and realty photographers together by creating a service that the two parties together easily and efficiently.
Chief operating officer and co-founder of Stilio Hannah Huppi said realtors have great difficulty consistently finding photographers to shoot photos for listings, whether it be availability or location.
“This is a huge pain point for agents as the must learn new systems in order to book, pay and receive photos,” Huppi said.
As the realty business moves toward the digital side of the spectrum with potential buyers increasingly searching online for listings, photography is becoming more important than ever.
“Sites like Zillow and Realtor.com rely on photo content to populate their sites, and photography increases their value proposition for viewers,” Huppi said.
Stilio acts as an aggregator for both realty photographers and realtors alike. The service allows photographers to set their locations, product offerings and prices for shoots in order to help realtors find the right photographer in their area and price range as easily as possible.
For new photographers, Stilio also offers photo editing services which has no more than a 24-hour turnaround time and gives full control to the photographers on what they want from their shots.
After realizing traditional methods for finding photographers were no longer working, Huppi along with the two other co-founders Darryl Glade and Kris Haug to build a new platform of their own to directly address and fix the issue.
Before starting Stilio Glade and Haug previously built a more traditional realtor marketing company named IMOTO. The company helped realtors build listings and market them using tools to get potential buyers to see them. IMOTO was featured at The Idea Village’s 2013 Idea Accelerator program.
“I was working as an Idea Accelerator analyst when I met Darryl and Kris,” Huppi said. “The company was a great fit for the program because Darryl and Kris were very innovative and willing to take smart risks to help their business grow, specifically when it came to investing in technology.”
After the Accelerator program ended, Glade and Haug offered Huppi a director of marketing position at IMOTO, and Huppi accepted.
In the four years the company has been running, it has expanded to 10 different states, employing six salespeople and over 50 photographers. While Huppi, Glade and Haug all are proud of the company’s success in the short amount of time, running a traditional realty marketing service revealed the limitations of what traditional practices allowed.
IMOTO ran into a scaling issue that Huppi said is very common for traditional real estate photography companies; scaling from large markets to a nationwide range is too costly and time consuming to succeed. In fact, according to Huppi, not a single nationwide provider for real estate photography exists in the country.
“This prompted us to start researching platform networks and eventually start Stilio which is an online marketplace for real estate photography,” Huppi said.
Stilio is a separate entity from IMOTO, but lessons learned from running the business prevented the team from starting at square one when creating an entirely new platform.
“Running IMOTO successfully for five years was essentially five years of in-the-field market research for Stilio,” Huppi said. “We have a deep understanding of the needs and behaviors of both real estate agents and photographers. Therefore we came into our new business with a clear sense of direction. We knew exactly what paint points we wanted to solve.”
Last month Stilio released a beta for interested photographers in California. Huppi said the state was chosen because it was uncharted territory for ITOMO and no other real estate photography competitors have home bases there.
In the first five weeks, over 500 different photographers signed up for the service, and after expanding nationwide with a focus on Chicago in anticipation of the National Association of Realtors Annual Expo, over 1,500 photographers have signed up in just 10 weeks.
As for the future, Huppi said the company aims to grow the nationwide network in order to partner with national real estate organizations to give their realtors more efficient access to photographers.
This article is brought to you by Ragusa Consulting and Pollo Con Leche, sponsors of the Silicon Bayou Startup Showcase.