Hey, this is GIo! I'm in the bowtie and black jacket. Andrew, my cousin, is on the right. Our amazing hypeman Brandon is in the back.
Andrew and I started this photo booth with nothing but an idea. Here's how that all came about...
Once upon a time, I worked the photo desk at the California Academy of Sciences. We also had a photo booth.
Sometimes there was a lot of down time, during which I would test the equipment and take lots of pictures of myself.
One day, I brought some of these photos home, and Andrew saw them. He then suggested something that would change both of our lives forever.
“Dude, we should start our own photo booth!”
It had never really crossed my mind to start a business, but Andrew kept the idea going, and we kinda just dove into it. I had experience with photography and I knew the technical stuff, which kept us going as we started to invest in equipment, business cards, and a website. After a few months, we had a workable setup that could take photos and print them reliably.
The thing was, we had no business experience whatsoever, and had no idea how to market ourselves or get events. Coincidentally, Andrew was getting married soon, and we agreed that his fiance’s bridal shower would be our first event in case we couldn’t get any bookings.
Lo and behold, we didn’t get any bookings.
So, in July 2015, we did our first event, the bridal shower. From there, we had samples to show people, and from there we planned to use our network to try to get events... which got us a grand total of 4 events from July to December 2015. In the meantime, I started a new job at Cobb’s Comedy Club, and the photo booth continued to be a side project for us.
It wouldn’t be until April that we would do our first event (a wedding) for someone completely out of our network.
Thus, we reached a new level.
We continued upgrading equipment, refining procedures, and we also brought on additional people onto the team. I really consider 2016-2018 my personal business school because we learned about real world problems, such as,
What happens when your equipment stops working and you can’t print photos?
How do you get Yelp reviews?
How you do get comfortable dealing with large crowds?
How do you do accounting?
How does all of this fit together??
What I consider to be a major accomplishment happened in December 2016, where we did a large company event at the Academy of Sciences for the SF Rec & Park.
I had left in 2015 and I was coming back as a business owner and not an employee. It was very surreal.
I realized in 2018 that this business would never get past being a glorified hobby unless I fully committed. So I decided in Feb 2018 to leave my job and do this business full time, which has resulted in exponential growth and an even better learning experience.
To date, we’ve done events from Yountville to Monterey and everywhere in between. Some of our clients include SF Recreation & Parks, Cobb’s Comedy Club, Napa Valley Education Foundation, and Charles Krug winery, as well as the countless couples and birthday celebrants.
It’s not lost on me that we’re present at some very important life moments for our clients, and now that I’m able to step back and reflect, that is the most satisfying part of this whole adventure is for me. For us to provide a lifetime memory in the form of fun photos of your closest friends and family is indescribable.
Can you imagine 10, 20, 50, 100 years from now, when your kids/grandkids/family see the photos from that day - your essence of that moment in time, captured!
That’s what it’s all about.