Growth Hacking is the Future of Building SaaS Brands

“We’ve grown from zero users to thousands in 6 months, and we’ve acquired users in 35 countries.”

Written By Sterling Sweeney: Published Sept 25th, 2019 | Updated Sept 26th, 2019.

Sterling Sweeney is a growth hacker and the driving force behind WhalePages, a SaaS marketing agency. Today, he sits down with Jonathan Low, the co-founder of JumpStory to talk about his SaaS company’s success so far. 

9 Minute Read

Hitting $2000 MRR In One Month By Inspiring People and Telling Stories, Rather Than Relying On Paid Ads.

Today WhalePages has the opportunity to sit down and chat with the team at JumpStory, a subscription based stock image service for companies looking for the perfect photos for their newsletters, websites or powerpoint presentations. Today, we have the opportunity to chat with the team about their experience growing their project so far. Let’s jump in!

First off, thanks for joining us today. Let’s begin by talking about the more SaaS’y elements to the platform. Now JumpStory isn’t simply a stock photo site. You have some interesting tools under the hood that help users both 1. find the images they are looking for with better accuracy as well as 2. edit those images once they are found. Tell us a little bit more about how you’re building your backend to differentiate yourself from other stock photography sites.

We actually don’t consider ourselves a stock photography website. Typically people associate stock photos with ‘toothpaste smiles’ and photo-shopped photos. We’re very different than that. JumpStory is a visual platform, where you find millions of photos, illustrations and videos, where many of them look very authentic and not like your average stock photo. In addition to this we don’t so much look at photos, as we look at performance. We want to help the users find the perfect photo every time. So if you were to compare us with Shutterstock, iStock and similar pages we’re different in four ways:

· No more confusing terms and licenses. We use one simple license, Creative Commons 0, which grants you unlimited access to use all of our visuals for all purposes – now and in the future

· No more complex pricing models. We offer one fixed price of 25 USD/month for unlimited download and use of all of our photos, illustrations and videos

· No more time wasted on searching. We’ve developed one quick search-function which automatically matches your text with relevant images

· No more wasted marketing budgets. We offer a super smart feature that help predict which images will top-perform in your marketing.

So JumpStory is reinventing the visual space.

“We actually don’t consider ourselves a stock photography website. Typically people associate stock photos with ‘toothpaste smiles’ and photo-shopped photos. We’re very different than that.”

Yes, let’s jump in and talk about your fourth point in more detail. Tell us more about the “predictive performance” part of the image search. This seems like it would be a very useful tool for marketers looking to make more data backed image search decisions.

Yes exactly. I have worked with online marketing in 15 years before co-founding JumpStory. Therefore I’ve experienced both the time wasted searching for images on the conventional platforms, but also the problem with which photos that will actually work. As a marketer you don’t actually focus on photos. You focus on performance. So we have developed an feature named HighJumper, where we rate the performance potential in each image – making it much easier for the users to select between the millions of images on our platform.

To help predict the winners we use a combination of artificial intelligence, millions of social media data and the latest knowledge within neuro-marketing.

“To help predict the winners we use a combination of artificial intelligence, millions of social media data and the latest knowledge within neuro-marketing.”

Let’s talk about pricing for a moment. Stock images can get expensive quickly. Tell us a little bit more about how you’re able to make your pricing model work. Do users really get access to “unlimited images”. How do you make the economics of that model work with your content contributors?

Yes. As marketers we felt confused by the terms and licenses of the different platforms out there. On one hand you have the totally free websites, where they don’t really clear the image right of the people on the photos – making it tricky to use them in your marketing. On the other hand you have the paid solutions and stock photo platforms, where we felt that the licenses can be really tricky. Sometimes they cover everything, and sometimes they only give you license to use the photos in certain kinds of media or in a limited time – e.g. until you decide to unsubscribe to your service.

At JumpStory we’ve cut away all this confusion. When you’re signed up to our platform, you get unlimited access to search, download and use ALL of the visuals – now and in the future. There are absolutely no restrictions, so in that way we’re a bit like services such as Spotify or Netflix – just for photos and in the B2B space.

I see that JumpStory is used by both large and small companies in more than 20 countries. How did you go about onboarding your first paying users?

Yes – we actually have users in 35 countries now despite having launched only in January of this year, so it’s growing rapidly at the moment. Our users find us on social media and in platforms such as Reddit and Quora, where we engage in conversations and dialogues about photography, digital marketing, storytelling etc. We believe very much in inspiring people rather than just doing conventional paid marketing.

“Our users find us on social media and in platforms such as Reddit and Quora, where we engage in conversations and dialogues about photography, digital marketing, storytelling etc. We believe very much in inspiring people rather than just doing conventional paid marketing.”

Tell us about some of the issues you faced with creating a supply / demand marketplace. These types of marketplaces always have to fight through the classic “chicken / egg” dilemma. It must have been challenging to onboard your first paying users when you didn’t have enough supply of images yet. At the same time it must have been hard to find content contributors because when you first got started, I’m assuming you had no built-in paying customers yet. How did you overcome this issue?

Good point but we’ve overcome it in two ways. First we decided that we should have enough images before launching anything. So we spent a year developing the database of more than 10 millions photos and illustrations. It’s of course a big investment of time and money, but it’s worth the effort, if you want to create something truly disruptive in an industry.

In addition to this we’ve built an API, where providers of e-mail software, CMS-platforms etc. can integrate JumpStory into their existing services. This enables them to offer their users access to our complete database, and if you’re, for instance, a newsletter platform also allow your users to match their newsletter text with images in seconds and predict the performance of the visuals in your newsletter in advance. So these integrations are also a very important part of our future growth strategy.

Very interesting. Now you started JumpStory in the Spring of 2019 and shortly after you brought on various partners. The original owners maintain their 32% ownership (each) of the company (you and your partner). Tell us a little bit more about the strategic decision to bring in outside help / finance. Tell us a little bit more about how these relationships work and how they’ve benefited JumpStory as a whole.

It requires both experience, people and money to build a platform and software like ours, so me and my co-founder knew from the beginning that we couldn’t and shouldn’t do it alone. Therefore we had our first investment, when we founded the company, and we’re currently closing the second funding round. The money is being spent on tech-development, team and marketing, and since our ambition is to create a unicorn that will change the industry for good, it’s not the last money that we’ve raised in our growth.

What advice would you give to other SaaS founders looking for outside financial help? What did funding process look like for you (challenging to find partners? Fast? Negotiation problems etc) ?

To be very honest, the first investment in JumpStory was not made due to a proof of concept. We got investment because of our team – being myself and my co-founders Anders and Mathias. We have +20 years of experience and entrepreneurs and within digital marketing, so they invested in us, because they believe in us. Of course they also bought into the mission, but the core was the team. And timewise it was very quick – maybe 3 weeks from pitch to investment.

“To be very honest, the first investment in JumpStory was not made due to a proof of concept. We got investment because of our team.”

Now let’s talk growth. What have been the primary growth channels for JumpStory? What marketing strategies have you been using to onboard your first paying customers? What have been both your most successful and least successful marketing channels to date?

We work primarily with growth hacking. Growth hacking is another way of doing marketing, where you think differently than just posting ads on Facebook and Google. Take a company like Dropbox. They did a growth hack, where users could get more free storage, if they referred other users to the platform. Or Airbnb that posted their listings on Craigslist just to get some awareness and distribution of their product. Or Danish Zendesk that built plugins to basically all other major platforms out there to brand their support-platform.

This is how we do it, because we don’t have lots of millions to spend on paid advertising, and because we believe it’s the future of building brands.

How is your onboarding strategy and marketing efforts different when it comes to finding content contributors?

We find contributors using technology rather than sales. It’s one of our secret sauces, so I’m afraid that I can’t go so much into detail here.

I totally understand. So tell us what’s in your secret sauce? Just kidding. So let’s talk about another sensitive topic instead. If you’re comfortable talking about the size and growth of your company so far, can you tell us a little bit more about things like team size, growth rate, ARR / MRR, percentage growth / month etc?

Sure. We’re currently a team of 15 people in our HQ in Denmark and with representation in the US too. We’ve grown from zero users to thousands in 6 months, and we’ve acquired users in 35 countries by now. Of course, we’re still a tiny mosquito compared to major players like Shutterstock or iStock, who are the elephants of the industry. However, we think that we’ve invented a very efficient secret poison that we wish to inject into the ‘monsters’ and see what happens in the future J

How long did it take you to hit $2000 MRR?

A month.

If you had to start JumpStory over again, what are three things you would do differently?

Sleep more. Eat less. Celebrate more.

Great advice! On behalf of our blog readers we’d like to say “thank you” for taking the time to chat with us today. JumpStory is a truly inspiring project. To our blog readers, if you’d like to save money on your stock photo bill, head over to JumpStory to learn more today.

Written By Sterling Sweeney: Published Sept 25th, 2019 | Updated Sept 26th, 2019.

Sterling Sweeney is a growth hacker and the driving force behind WhalePages, a SaaS marketing agency So, if you have a SaaS company and you’re kinda into things like website traffic and increasing your MRR, then be sure to check out our homepage. 

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