Berlin-based photo-sharing platform EyeEm announced Wednesday morning that it has raised $6 million in a Series A round led by Earlybird Venture Capital, with help from existing investors Wellington Partners and Passion Capital.
The platform comes with a set of filters that you can apply to each photo you take, and users can share and follow one another, just like Instagram. But there is one key difference that sets EyeEm apart: it’s jumping straight to monetization by inviting brands to use the platform to find new stock images.
Brands like Vice Magazine, Redbull, and Lufthansa have already created curated “missions” to crowd-source new images for their marketing campaigns. EyeEm users remain the sole owners of image rights, and brands, agencies, and marketers can purchase the images directly from the photographers. Some marketers and brands have already purchased images from EyeEm users, even though the full marketplace won’t be launched until later this year.
The mobile app comes with smart tagging and data enrichment technology that allows users and clients to quickly find the images they want. Additionally, the app automatically indexes photos, which allows the platform to match and connect like-minded photogs.
“EyeEm is the number one mobile photographer’s community. Look at what is being captured on photo sharing apps—it’s often cluttered with mundane life events. However if you see the imagery on EyeEm you cannot help but become totally captivated. We see the passion in the fanatical photography community and the opportunity to expand the $5B stock photography and $12B commissioned photography market and provide brands with high quality and authentic images and photographers with much greater exposure,” said Earlybird Partner Jason Whitmire, in a statement.
Founded in 2011, the EyeEm community is growing at a rate of one million new users each month. The app is available in 20 languages and is free on iOS and Android.
The app is still in its infancy—can it compete with the likes of Instagram, which has established itself in the U.S. as more or less the default photo-sharing app? Currently, some 130 million people are using Instagram. That’s up from 20 million people when Facebook acquired Instagram last year. To date, over 16 billion images have been shared and Instagram photos are getting one billion likes per day (as of June). Last month, Instagram kicked things up a notch by unveiling a new feature that allows users to make artsy 15-second videos. The video feature comes with 13 filters and comes with a video stabilization technology called Cinema, so that even though you’re shooting the video from your phone, there’s zero wobble.