The priceless value of a memory - why we invested in Smiler

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Jeroen Arts
The priceless value of a memory - why we invested in Smiler

The priceless value of a memory

Why we invested in Smiler — the world’s first on-the-spot photography marketplace

Haven’t we all been there, visiting an iconic location together with your partner or best friend? It’s a special moment that’s destined to be remembered for many years to come. You pop out your phone, switch to selfie-mode, and make a quick snap; only to realize back home that the lightning is terrible and half of your partner’s face is missing.

If only we could capture these defining memories in high quality!

Enter Smiler — the world’s first on-the-spot photography marketplace

Smiler solves your problem by connecting you to a network of professional freelance photographers at hundreds of locations around the world. Whether you’re walking around the Eiffel Tower in Paris or visiting the Tower of London, a Smiler photographer is there to capture your most precious moment through a free and quick five-minute photoshoot. After having your pictures taken, you can review the high-quality snaps on your mobile phone later that day and purchase one or more photos digitally or in print for a small price. 

Smiler - download, share and print your photos
Receive your Smiler photos and select the ones you like to purchase, in digital or print

Smiler operates at both private venues, like the Amsterdam Royal Zoo and the Tower of London, and at popular public destinations and city parks. The service is currently live in the US, France, Spain, Italy, UK, and the Netherlands with more than 1,000 photographers connected to the platform. 

Unlocking a shadow market for high quality pictures

According to a recent study, 1.72 trillion pictures are being taken worldwide in 2022. This number has increased significantly in recent years, thanks in part to the widespread use of smartphones and social media platforms. In fact, a majority of people now use their smartphones as their primary means of taking and sharing pictures, with over 90 percent of all photos being taken on smartphones.

Smiler - capture memories in high quality
Over 1 trillion in photos taken per year

If there’s one thing that this data shows, it’s that people like to capture their memories. And with more than five billion tourists worldwide, there seems to be a clear opportunity to offer high-quality, on-demand photoshoots at the world’s most iconic locations. At Speedinvest, we strongly believe that Smiler is tapping into a huge and largely untapped opportunity. Because yes, taking your own pictures is great. But wouldn’t it be so much better to have a professional photographer taking those pictures for you? If you’re as clumsy with your smartphone as I am, you know the answer already. 

And yes, there are many venues and events where you can get your pictures taken by a professional photographer. But then again, there are millions of amazing locations where this is not simply the case. This is the opportunity that Smiler is jumping on and we believe they’re on the verge of unlocking a massive shadow market for high-quality photoshoots. 

Opening a new category in the gig-economy

Smiler is building a three-sided marketplace where consumers can access and book on-demand photoshoots at hundreds of locations worldwide. Powering this marketplace are thousands of freelance photographers worldwide who are able to turn their passion for photography into a successful business. 

Unlike other gig-economy platforms, Smiler photographers can make up to €70 per hour doing what they love. This is significantly more than drivers make at Uber Eats (net $15 per hour) or Doordash (between $15-$25), giving a whole new meaning to the gig-economy concept. 

Backing an experienced team

We are excited to back a team of serial entrepreneurs building out this new category for gig-economy workers. CEO Kasper Middelkoop was the original founder of Tiqets and former CEO of Hotelchamp. Cofounder and Chief Revenue Officer Martine Rooth was the former CEO of healthtech platforms eHealth88 and Solvo and went through two acquisitions. Smiler’s third co-founder, Rob Hulleman, is the company’s CPO and he brings extensive experience from his background cofounding a daily deal platform and running numerous product teams.

At Speedinvest, we’re excited to be leading Smiler’s pre-seed round and are welcoming the company to our Marketplaces and Consumer portfolio. Together with our co-investor Dutch Founders Fund, we’re keen on supporting Kasper, Martine, and Rob as they embark on the Smiler journey.