Gary Pageau of the Dead Pixels Society talks with Ori Guttin, co-founder of Viewbug. In this episode, Guttin talks about the tools developed for photographers for minting NFTs and its newest innovation, Viewbug Coins. Viewbug Coins allow users to earn coins, give them to other users, and to spend them on prizes. Viewbug is a long-standing community of millions of photographers that challenges and rewards creativity. The app has been recognized by Apple as an "App of the Day" and "New Apps We Love".
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Erin Manning 0:02
Welcome to the Dead Pixels Society podcast, the photo imaging industry's leading news source. Here's your host, Gary Pageau. The Dead Pixels Society podcast is brought to you by Mediaclip, Advertek Printing, and School Photographers of America.
Gary Pageau 0:20
Hello again, and welcome to the Dead Pixels Society podcast. I'm your host, Gary Pageau. And today we're joined by Ori Guttin, a co founder of Viewbug, which is based in San Diego, California. Hi, Ori, how are you today?
Ori Guttin 0:36
Very good, Gary. Thanks for having me.
Gary Pageau 0:39
Viewbug has been around for over a decade. But for those who aren't familiar with the company, can you just spell out a little bit what your business model is built around?
Ori Guttin 0:50
Sure, we as a quick overview, we started Viewbug As a way to pretty much solve that problem. Back in the day, joining contest was kinda difficult, you weren't sure if you were sending your photo to a good website or a scammy site, or if somebody was going to keep the rights of your images or not. So together with my co founder, we decided to build a platform where the photographers would feel safe and comfortable sharing their images in contests. And fast forward to today. And back to your question, we built a community where we monetize via subscriptions. So photographers pay either monthly or yearly subscriptions, to participate in the different contests that we host. And now, along many other tools that we offer, such as website hosting logo designs, we'll talk about an NFT a building and whatnot. educational material, so a bunch of different tools to allow photographers to empower their skills.
Gary Pageau 2:02
And about how many users do you have approximately,
Ori Guttin 2:04
you're a about 4 million members in the community.
Gary Pageau 2:09
Great. Great. So you were originally built around this idea of contest, and you used to partner with brands to run their contests. But that's not really something you're doing a lot of right now. Right? I think people will probably remember you back from those days.
Ori Guttin 2:25
Yeah, we I mean, we used to do a lot of partnerships with brands, we still do it. We have a very thorough process of launching a contest and curating the entries. And it during that process. There are some contests that are we do partner with brands, and others are contests that we launch ourselves. Sure.
Gary Pageau 2:48
Okay. But so primarily, you're both around the Viewbug community, that's really kind of where you're putting your focus on is, you know, having contests and events and activities for your community, not for other brands,
Ori Guttin 3:03
color, right. It's mostly, the contests are the backbone of the community. And I mean, we're all about contests are we there also have challenges which are user generated challenges. And we've had over 60,000 challenges created by our members, each member can select their own theme, and it's a very cool way to share your skills and specific themes that you like, and to see how the community interacts with those.
Gary Pageau 3:30
So you mentioned earlier, NFTs, and that is a somewhat nebulous topic right now, because I'm not sure. You know, it got a lot of buzz A while back, especially during the pandemic. And I think there's still some questions about what NFT's are as they relate to photography, and how you can monetize them. So what are NFT's in the Viewbug concept? And how do you want people to monetize them?
Ori Guttin 4:02
Yeah, in the way we see an FTC is as a tool for photographers to keep track or to pretty much on the blockchain have a contract where they keep track of the rights of their image. We feel it's a barrier, that it's a very powerful tool to have everything on the blockchain and you have to have an official contract that anybody can access, right showcase that you minted the photo, you uploaded it to the blockchain and the way we like it, we're doing it on Viewbug Is that we're giving photographers that tool to meet their photos and to showcase them on a gallery so that you can sell those NF T's and have a beautiful way to display them.
Gary Pageau 4:49
So you were always kind of in the business of legitimizing photos, right that these are the actual photos, like you said, when you started, there were a lot of scammy contests out there. And there were a lot of platforms that were basically about stealing people's images. So this is kind of within your skill set of keeping images, verified and sacrosanct.
Ori Guttin 5:13
Gary Pageau 5:31
So when did that roll out? And what has been the reception of that? That rolled
Ori Guttin 5:37
out a usually when we roll out new features, Gary, we have a process, we don't simply open it to all the community. And it's ready for everybody to use, we pretty much do a beta testing first to some to more avid users of the community. So we pretty much lens launched about two months ago. It's not fully open to everybody yet, right? And we've seen people play up play around with it a minute or photo submitted to the we're using it on the Ethereum blockchain. And we're starting to see some usage there.
Gary Pageau 6:15
So who would be the type of photographer who you think would be the ideal type of photographer for this? You know, in terms of the type of work they do,
Ori Guttin 6:26
yeah, I think there's a wide variety of photographers that would be using this, definitely the photographer that's already selling their photos on different marketplaces, someone who's licensing their photos on a stock photography, that they want to have an extra exposure to protecting their images. And for them, to have a contract where they keep pretty much all the perpetual royalties of the sales of the photo. So that's a very cool concept. And new photographers that have never experienced with stock photography, that they have failed on comfortable sending their photos to a third party platform, right? And if is, I think opens up a lot of possibilities. Because even though they're sending their photos to the Viewbug Marketplace, or the Viewbug account, they're doing it with that contract that they can access all the time. So it's I think it's more open public and a more straightforward.
Gary Pageau 7:30
So you're kind of taking out the stock photography middleman.
Ori Guttin 7:34
Got it? Yeah, pretty much. Yeah.
Gary Pageau 7:38
What about the discovery process for the photographer, truly, one of the values that a stock photography house has is, you know, they've gotten millions of images, a customer goes there, and they tap in the keywords they want, and hopefully, the photographer's work will come up. And that's how they get found in your platform. How our photographer, how are they going to get discovered? Are there tools for promoting their work in there? Or how does that work?
Ori Guttin 8:04
Yes, there's plenty of tools. As a photographer, we give you tools to promote your work, not only the tools, but also the, the gallery where you can display your images. And we are in the process of a like the next iteration of the product, we're gonna have different templates that you can display your NFT scene and even spiritual galleries. So it will be a more submissive experience, both for the photographer and for the viewer. And we'll we're also building a marketplace where as you mentioned, if somebody's searching for specific type of images, they can find them. But um, we've seen with nfts, Gary, it's the photographer or the creator itself, the one who really likes to promote their project. And we give them all the tools to do so.
Gary Pageau 8:55
That isn't your only news, because you're recently announcing another way to basically your own currency within the platform. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Ori Guttin 9:06
Absolutely. So we recently released the Viewbug coin. And immutable coin is a way to earn rewards for completing various tasks in the community. And we're very excited about this because we we give coins to members for uploading photos, browsing contests, they join in contests, joining challengers whatnot. And they can gather coins by even logging into the site on consecutive days, and then they can exchange them for rewards and we have really cool rewards from ebooks to backpacks to cameras and something that we just released Gary and I think you're the first one to hear this. I'm excited to share it with you is that we're a neuron giving coins to the members. But we're allowing members to spend those coins on other members. So dice it not only on members, but also on photos. So we were I mean, we understand the whole concept of liking a photo on social media. But we we understand that when you see visually, a photo that really is appealing to us, sometimes a light is not enough, right. So if you had a hard earned coin on your account, you can now give that coin to the photo that you liked. So it's a, it's a very cool way for photographers and community members to interact with each other and to give each other appreciation. So not only can you give coins to photos, but also if you go to a meme, like photographers profile, you can give that photographer as many coins as you wish.
Gary Pageau 10:56
So what is the base value of a coin? That's a?
Ori Guttin 11:00
That's a very good question. And that is we're still working on that side. I mean, nowadays, it say some people call it the tokenomics of the coin. And we're where the initial stage is for us to provide the the coin for community members to use it to interact with each other's using the coin. And then the second stage once and if we get there is to actually give it an monetary value, so that it can be exchanged. But as of now, it's just like an internal, right, that people can use in the community and exchange for rewards. So I
Gary Pageau 11:41
mean, I mean, I've seen various tokenized economy applications, you know, and a lot has, you know, use for reward to get points for a credit card and things like that. So I'm just trying to figure out, how are you? How are you gonna be able to translate that to a physical reward? Let's say somebody wants to use a coin to buy a print off of off of photographer, I'm just curious how if that's in the offing, and how you're going to manage that that's kind of interesting.
Ori Guttin 12:04
Yeah, that's him. That's something that we're currently doing on the reward store, you can exchange your coins from again, ebooks to swag to, like, actual products, right? TVs, backpacks, and we did do some, obviously, a lot of calculations on what would be the value of earning a coin versus getting up for that coin.
Gary Pageau 12:32
Becoming an economist, basically, it's
Ori Guttin 12:35
basically talking to a few economist, economists, I think that coin wouldn't be very valuable.
Gary Pageau 12:43
Right, right. Right. But I mean, it is interesting, because you know, usually the you know, when when you have a point based system like that, like like, like credit card reward points, or something like that, these just say no cash value, but you can trade it in.
Ori Guttin 12:57
And I mean, after all, I Sorry to interrupt, Gary, I heard, you will also be be at a contest is to reward creativity. That's what a contest is derived. We're like, we really always with a mission to continue empowering our members and continue rewarding our members. And it was as a non brainer to continue our roadmap to give more tools to empower and reward members and what a cooler way to reward members and to give them more tools and ways to get prices.
Gary Pageau 13:32
Well. I mean, I think it's very interesting from a community building standpoint, right? Because like you said, you know, thumbs up or likes or whatever, are relatively cheap, right? And so, from a from a value standpoint, even there's if it's if it's a fractional, the costs are still what I have to really like this to give it a coin.
Ori Guttin 13:54
Call right call right now, then there is way much more emotional involvement when you're giving a coin rather than that than the like, and the person who receives that coin has that same feeling. It's very different to simply receive a like, versus knowing that someone decided to give you one of their coins.
Gary Pageau 14:13
Right. So how does do so does a member because you've had various membership levels? Correct? Correct. So do you get X number of coins based on your membership level? Is that how that works? And
Ori Guttin 14:26
you're a you're asking the right questions. We we are a freemium model and your communities have freemium model. So as a free member, you get one coin per each action that I mentioned, like,
Gary Pageau 14:44
you can earn coins by participating. Correct,
Ori Guttin 14:47
but then as a paid member, you get to x coins on every action.
Gary Pageau 14:52
Okay, so if you can accelerate your earnings,
Ori Guttin 14:56
you're going to accelerate your earnings by 20. Pretty much,
Gary Pageau 15:01
okay. But basically you have to be an active participant in the community. You have to have good standing, if you will, right to earn coins and then to dispense them, you have to be Be of good character, if you will be a be helpful participant in the community. I guess the way I'm phrasing that,
Ori Guttin 15:18
absolutely. And bitcoins is just an added extension to all the community interactions that are already happening on happening on Viewbug. So it's a way to strengthen the community,
Gary Pageau 15:30
and how would the beta test gone for that? And what's your timetable for rolling that out?
Ori Guttin 15:35
Then the beta test is going amazing, the timetable? As we speak, we should be launching the coins on the iOS app and Android up. So they should be actually once these conversations.
Gary Pageau 15:52
You're gonna flip the switch? Okay, yeah, they shouldn't be live
Ori Guttin 15:55
on both of our apps. And on the website for all members.
Gary Pageau 16:00
Was there a sense of beta tests? What were some of the feedback you were getting? Because it's, it sounds to me like it's a, it's an easy concept to understand, but maybe difficult to implement.
Ori Guttin 16:09
You know, a very interestingly, for the community members, we saw right away that around 20% of the members that were doing some actions on the site, are already giving away coins. So yes, they better testing the whole, all the technical side of thing was very difficult to build both for the actual community member once they see it on the screen, and to understand the process is very simple, and incredible to see how people are. I mean, when you launch a product like this, you're not sure what you're gonna do all the community how, what's gonna, what's gonna happen, we knew I mean, we prove we were 99% sure of the results, right. But it's incredible to see people giving coins to photographers, and to photos left and right.
Gary Pageau 17:04
So has there been any surprises in terms of some photographers, maybe getting a lot of coins or getting a legs is a different way of getting recognition? Right? So there'll be any surprises there among your beta testers for anything. Users who are maybe heavy users are getting more recognition now because you're active anyway. Because I kind of see where that would go. If you have somebody who has a positive reputation in your community, they're, they're probably more likely going to receive coins.
Ori Guttin 17:34
Yes. So community members that have been active in the community are already receiving a lot of coins, once big one because they're logging in on a daily basis. And that gives them more coins on that cumulative aspect. And somebody who's interacting and sharing their creativity daily on the contests. And on the on uploading new photo, they're getting new coins constantly. And something else that we did, Gary is we also give away coins as contest prizes. So I mean, we have on every single contest, we have really cool prizes. But we added extra value to the contest by not only winning the prices, but also coins.
Gary Pageau 18:18
Was this something that you internally thought of? Or did you have some a focus group of your users suggesting something like this,
Ori Guttin 18:30
this has been a 10 year focus group. So it before launching the coins, we had the reward system already in place where it was, we were giving badges to our members and really cool ways for them to, for people to feel great on the actions and the interaction they were putting on the community. But we were missing that extra step of actually rewarding with real products and with real gifts to the active members. So definitely, it was millions of users and many years of a feedback. And finally, I think we launched the right product.
Gary Pageau 19:13
So a lot of virtual economy based activity just in the last few months, you know, the NF T's launching and now coins when the word gets out about this, do you think this will increase your more people on the platform? Or do you think it's going to increase the engagement among your existing users?
Ori Guttin 19:32
I definitely bought it as I mean, the way the reason why we launched coins was to award active members not to not as a way to acquire new members or whatnot. So our focus was to empower current members and definitely we're gonna see and we're starting to see with a better testing more activity within within members, but definitely for new for new members of the community, when they see this new point system, I think people are gonna get hooked right away and excited to share their creativity with all the members of the community, is there
Gary Pageau 20:11
a way to promote or convey the messages if you're a user about coins, outside of the Viewbug platform? Because I could see that as a way of displaying the popularity of a picture or something like that? Is there a way is there going to be a badge or something they can use? Outside the Viewbug platform?
Ori Guttin 20:36
Definitely, where we already had a have a leader board where we show members with the most number of coins, or accumulated coins. And again, Gary, you should be part of our product team. Because now we're about to finish building the different tools that and badges that we're gonna have a give community members that have the highest number of accumulated coins.
Gary Pageau 21:03
Great. Great. So going into the new year. What's next? I mean, on your roadmap, I mean, these are two big projects, which are finding fundamentally change how communities can interact with pictures other than just you know, thumbs up or thumbs down, or hearts or what have you. You know, video is hot is video, something you're going to be playing a little bit with?
Ori Guttin 21:30
We're a, we're gonna be probably announcing something in regards to BB.
Gary Pageau 21:39
Again, trying to get that job on your product team.
Ori Guttin 21:44
Probably maybe, who knows? A and we're all about, we really believe in the Creator economy. So we you might hear a few more things around around those about robbing the Creator economy in the future as well.
Gary Pageau 22:03
Good. Good. So where can people get more information about obvious thing or viewbug.com? But how can they if they're interested in either partnering with you and Viewbug? Or even maybe, who knows? Maybe doing a contest or something with you? Where would they go for that information?
Ori Guttin 22:22
Absolutely. So yeah, as you mentioned, they can go to google.com. And there is a section for a specific section for brands. If brands we also I mean, we run white label, a platform for contests and the turnkey solution for brands to run contests. So google.com is a place and that's a photographer, if you're a photographer and wanna join some really cool contests google.com or download the Viewbug app on Android or iOS.
Gary Pageau 22:52
Well, great already. Thank you so much for your time and looking forward to checking it out on Viewbug.com. Thank you.
Ori Guttin 23:00
Thank you, Gary. Have a great day.
Erin Manning 23:04
Thank you for listening to the dead pixel society podcast. Read more great stories and sign up for the newsletter at www the dead pixels society.com