When we come across any engineer turned photographer, Farhan Qureshi, the character played by Madhavan in 3 Idiots is the first one to our mind. Sandeep Kamble, an independent security researcher turned entrepreneur, always kept his passion for photography alive. Entrepreneurial by nature, Sandeep turned his passion into venture through f9pix.com. “F9pix, launched in December 2012 is social platform, where photographers can create portfolio in a couple of minutes with no impediment to storage limitations,” shares Sandeep.
When Sandeep first conceived the idea of venture, he scouted for his clones in his friends who share the same knack and passion for photography. It was then he found partners in Kishore Desarda and Jinendra Khobare. Sandeep and Kishore were college mates at Jawaharlal Nehru engineering college in Aurangabad and Kishore had an earlier entrepreneurial outing called Gazon Communication India — an ISP company. At F9pix Kishore is responsible for all revenue and customer operations, as well as marketing and partnerships. Jinendra’s previous stint was with an educational startup during his engineering days, and had first hand experience of building a company. He looks after day-to-day operations, as well as leads the company’s product development and technology strategy.
Sandeep is also an independent security researcher and developer. “As a security professional, I have managed to debunk vulnerabilities/bugs in Google, Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox and PayPal,” claims Sandeep. Sandeep was a speaker at International security conferences ClubHack 2012 & Nullcon 2013. “During this journey of mine, I realized that there a number of skilled photographers around. Though their devout to photography is high, they really don’t find place where they could nurture their skill. F9pix is panacea to fill the gap,” shares Sandeep. “Take any of my junkets, and you will find a number of photographs. I show it to my family and friends, put it up on Facebook, get some likes and comments and that’s the sad end of it,” shares Kishore. Most of those pictures never get used professionally.
Jinendra shares an incident, where he came across a young guy working in IT company. Given his sedentary job, photography excited him and he wanted to transform himself as a photographer. However, good photography requires skills and other arts. At F9pix, Jinendra says that have built a system where newbie photographers can learn from professional photographers through the feedback. The site also allows photographers to trade their pics,shares Jinendra. F9pix has liaised with advertising agencies, magazines, art directors & huge software companies as part of B2B model.
The site is currently in Beta2 version with more than 250 users. The user has complete control over his photographs and enough security has been provided in allusion to copyright violations. All photos in the popular and grossing category are carefully selected through the use of “RAMA” algorithm. “Our home page should put the best photographs given the website is dedicated to photography. However, with hundreds of photos getting uploaded daily, it is almost a Herculean task to pick the best ones daily. So we devised the RAMA algorithm,” shares Sandeep. In the first phase, the system will aggregate the feedback from the f9pix users who evaluate the rating quality. Along with a number of other factors, a ranking is given to each and every photograph. Popularity of photos on F9pix is a based on a periodic check that runs automatically in the background on the server daily.
At first look, F9pix looks like the Indian version of Flickr, however the trio spurns the idea going into detail why it is not so. “Flickr has a huge collection of photographs and practically finding anything particular is difficult. Besides our system of feedback to amateur photographers and getting them connected to professional art world is where we score points and stand apart. Again, the business aspect involved here makes us stand out among contemporaries,” says Jinendra.
The site, claims Kishore has more than 314 invitation request without using any marketing strategies however to scale big they are using social media circles. “Tying up with blogs relating to photography is another route we access,” says Kishore. Based out of Pune, the venture has employed seven developers to shape the site in the most aesthetic way possible.
They are a boot strapped venture and funding continues to be the biggest challenge, say the trio. “After patience, listening is the most important virtue in entrepreneurship. Lots of stories, suggestions and difficulties float around you. But an entrepreneur must learn to sail his ship through the tumultuous waves,” says Sandeep on his journey as an entrepreneur. “Our vision and punch line in simple. Any one passionate for photography – be it novice or professional, can come to us. We aim to be known as providers of a rich and intelligent system that gives photographers an opportunity to use the platform and grow – either in digital profession, in social atmosphere or in personal knowledge of digital photography or in the three aspects,” share the trio.