Candid app

Get to know a Toronto startup: Candid

Historically, one of the best ways to make money on the Internet has been through advertising. And yet with countless ads popping up on webpages and flooding our inboxes, it's no surprise we barely notice them. Considering the alternative, would you pay more attention to an advertisement if it included a picture taken by yourself or someone you know? Nariman Haghighi thinks so.

His new platform, called Candid, allows Instagrammers to interact with brands that personally resonate with them. By allowing people to sell their unique photographs to brands, who can use them in their marketing campaigns, the team at Candid feels that consumers and brands will be able to connect in a much more personal way than ever before.

Where did the idea for Candid come from?

Candid is something I had registered months earlier while out for dinner with my friend Andy Anthony then set aside. He had some crazy idea around a marketplace where you could request a photo of anything you wanted to see around the city, and someone in the vicinity would take a photo for you and you'd pay them a dollar.

That idea eventually morphed into a vision around the future of social ads. We saw a future where instead of seeing stock photography served up by Google as you browse the web, you'd start to see pictures of family, friends, and co-workers promoting things they love (a
neighbourhood restaurant or a destination in Mexico). We got really excited about all the scenarios where our daily pictures can serve as meaningful promotions for things that really matter to us, but knew we needed to hone in a very specific focus and build up from there.

Why crowdsource your content from contributors? What's the benefit?

The type of personalization we strive for is only possible by harnessing the crowd. We plan to experiment with a variety of incentives, from discounts to cold hard cash in an effort to get users interested in participating. At the moment, we're focused on the self-promotion aspect that can draw a ton of attention to your personal brand through the network of sites that may host your photo.

What type of people do you think are a good fit for Candid?

At the moment, we are focused on 3 core markets: Fashion, Hospitality (Tourism/Hotels/Restaurants) and Home Improvement (Interior Design). These three areas represent what Instagrammers love photographing today.

We're most interested in people that are good candid photographers, have a unique eye for capturing original perspectives and, most importantly, want the additional exposure that comes with putting their pictures to work as a cause or brand ambassador.

How does Candid differ from other photo sharing sites? How can a niche service differentiate from the dominant big players?

We're not really trying to be another social network; we want to go to work for the candid photographers on all of the networks (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr). We want to give them additional options for where else they could also see their photos appear.

It's about choice: the content creators deserve a say in how their work is used. It's ultimately about the user and not the social network. The candid photographer has emerged as a rising star with no representation to make sure their interests are honoured.

Why don't more business take the approach of sharing the benefits with their users in their community versus keeping all the benefits to themselves?

I think the trick is finding a model for reciprocity that is simple and compelling for both sides. There are real challenges in figuring out who contributed what and how those contributions generated revenue, then figuring out how to get a share back to the user.

Micro-payments have come a long way and there's increasing options for paying out contributors with low-overhead but there is still not an accepted standard. We've spent some time tackling these issues with ElasticForce and plan on continuing to build on that for Candid.

Do you have any examples of other sites where crowd sourced content was done correctly? Anything you guys are doing differently?

There are a couple of large US retailers that are featuring crowdsourced images with attribution and showing great results for both sides. For us, expanding this market and ensuring there's a place for vocal fans on every website is just the beginning. We want to build a relationship with the photographer and constantly find new opportunities for them that are meaningful to them and their community.

What's next for Candid?

We are excited to share that we have just been accepted into the Extreme Startup's Advanced Cohort. The program comes with some much needed funding and world-class mentorship that will really allows us to expand our reach outside of Toronto.

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