Sometimes social media requires you to post just the perfect type of footage to capture what you want. Because of this high standard you have placed for pleasing your audience, you need a library of moments suitable for any cause. Scopio has you covered with the image and video centered search-engine and license platform for your social media needs. The platform is bringing together content creators as well as social media users to create a never ending loop of wonderfully curated social content.
Today we sit down CEO Christina Hawatmeh to discuss the unlikely story of her startup and where it plans on going in the near future.
Tell us about the product or service.
Image search engine and licensing platform for trending images & videos on social media that allows users to request to license any photo with a customizable message, and build curated UGC libraries.
How is it different?
Curation (search without the noise), and personalization: The ability to build your own relevant and authentic user generated image and video galleries for publishing. We are playing matchmaker between content creators and social media users
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
Video imaging technology is changing the way we communicate and it will continue to do so in the next 5-10 years. The Photo Industry is a 10B industry and growing, we are carving a space.
What is the business model?
SAAS. Tiered pricing.
What inspired the business?
When I was in my masters at Columbia University around 2012-2013, focusing on technology, during the Arab Spring, I realized that social searching was limiting and really messy, and permissions were needed to use peoples content on social media, which is why the press couldn’t keep up or find what they were looking for. I had been obsessed with social media as a positive influence changing society, and so I sought out to make real time visual information (photos and videos) accessible and (attainable). I was lucky enough to find an advisor at Columbia, Manoj Pooleery, who was then the Director of Technology and Entrepreneurship at the Center for Computational Learning Systems, who also shared that same vision, and is now my Co-Founder. The third piece was meeting our Chief Creative, Nour Chamoun, who is a Parsons Grad in Design and Technology, who has been able to design the vision in a simple, attractive, and effective way, and also give it the social edge that we started with. UGC is not momentary, its here to stay, and our vision is to create the first encompassing accessible social library of our day.
What’s it like to be a female founder building a business in NYC?
It’s definitely interesting as a personal journey. I’ve been reading “Founders at Work,” for inspiration, and the same question was asked to Caterina Fake, the cofounder of Flickr, she says, “there is a lot of institutionalized sexism working against women in business and I think people aren’t even aware that it’s there sometimes…It takes a lot of nerve for women to face up to this assumption.” Technology is its own beast. Sometimes I look for women that have built tech companies, and there are not that many, you have to be your own role model. That’s exciting, but it’s a lot of responsibility. There are a lot of hurdles that come with the job, but it’s unbelievably exciting with each achievement. Caterina also says in the book, “women are much more passionate about their business. Women are able to put their hearts and souls into it in a way that many men cannot-or rather are not known for doing. That’s true too.
What resources have you found most helpful?
I went through Columbia’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship program and was part of the first year at Columbia Startup Lab. Columbia Alumni have have really gone out of their way to help with pilots and feedback. Also, other friends who have startups are the best, and fastest resource. My technical Co-founder, Manoj Pooleery has also been the most important resource tackling this big data and image search and indexing problem in front of us. In terms of reading, now, I’m obsessed with Saastr. Very practical and blunt, and I can act on things right away in the business after reading so its awesome.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
Customers, Customers, Customers.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
Hide your invention or someone will steal it. In the beginning, I felt talking about it actually made it real, and it did, every step of the way. I remember my face was plastered on the front page of Columbia’s Spectator, and I was like, but I haven’t done anything yet. But that same validation made me think, you know what, people think it’s a needed idea, and I want to create it.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
Alexis Ohanian. I want him to be my advisor. I love his “Give Lots of Damns” motto, and how he has been able to achieve so much in on the Internet, and in a social capacity. If anyone reads this and can do an intro, I will give you my first born. Just kidding, I would be really grateful.
Why did you launch in New York?
I came for graduate school at Columbia, I wanted to be in the most global, connected, media rich, place in the world. I had lived in a lot of different places before. They say if you want to do something BIG, go to New York. The bar is so high for people to live up to their potential, to learn new things at such a fast rate, which is really helpful in pivoting and being nimble as a Founder. No one can compete with New Yorkers, they’re razor sharp, creative, and daring. Also, It’s the media center of the world. Go where your customers are, “they” say.
What’s your favorite rooftop bar in NYC to unwind?
Actually, you can usually find me in a dive bar unwinding with friends.