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Interview: Chris Garbacz, Studio Ninja

After 10 business attempts, Chris Garbacz landed a winner and is now the self proclaimed, Head Honcho at Studio Ninja. This game-changing web and mobile app was designed as a studio management tool for photographers that has generated a cult following of users looking to free up time with much more efficient administration for their businesses. We chat point of difference, lessons learnt and that aha moment.

Tell us about Studio Ninja, what do you do and how is it different to other photography businesses?

We’re the world’s most user-friendly photography business app built specifically for photographers, by photographers. That means we help them streamline their business, eliminate paperwork, automate tasks to free up time by managing their shoots, clients, leads, invoices, workflow and more. It’s a simple set-up process and we offer tools like pre-made email templates to convert leads or workflow templates that allow for this automation and in turn, increased efficiency.

In terms of design and usability, we’re miles ahead of our competitors with 5 star App Store ratings. Plus, we’re constantly updating based on what we feel is important and based on users feedback. We offer 7-days a week in-app chat and Facebook support to ensure users can receive assistance in a matter of minutes, plus every user receives an induction call from our team to get them up and running as fast as possible. This can include free data migration if users are coming to us from a competitor.

We also donate $1 every subscription, every month to YGAP who are supporting entrepreneurs in developing communities to solve poverty with a total donation of $22,000 so far.

Why is Studio Ninja exclusively for photographers?

I am a photographer and have been shooting for 12 years so I wanted to build a system specifically suited to the needs of an industry that I am very familiar with. Everything about the system- the features, the design, the usability- has be built to cater for photographers and we prefer it that way. We don’t want to clutter Studio Ninja with unnecessary bulky features, we keep things simple and we know exactly what market we cater for. 

What prompted you to start your own business?

I’ve been self employed since I was 22 years old and Studio Ninja is my 11th business attempt! Amongst that I’ve started co-sharing office spaces, topless waiter services for hens parties and I worked for 3 different photography studios in my early 20’s where their success inspired me to start my own business. My degree in multimedia design allowed me to start and test business ideas quickly because, for example, I could whip up a website over the weekend and start testing it’s viability using Google Ads or Facebook Ads without forking out thousands of dollars on design.

Some made no money, some made a little, some made a lot and some made a loss, but I kept trying, learning and got better every time. None of these ideas were scalable and always required my time so deep down I was always looking for that one idea that I could scale. So that’s when Studio Ninja was born. I had the idea while using other competitor products for my photography business. Although they were powerful they were always ridiculously difficult to use and overly complicated. It dawned on me that I could build my own studio management software that would be beautiful, easy to use and would revolutionise the admin side of the photography industry. 

What’s been a hard lesson learnt that other small business owners could learn from?

There are so many! I always felt okay walking away from the businesses that I was not enjoying, even if they were making money. I never saw it as a failure, I just took what I learnt and moved onto the next idea.

So the following is not necessarily a lesson learnt, more of a philosophy that we learnt and now always follow.

Get your product/service into the market as quickly as possible and start trying to make sales, get feedback and then improve! Although this process is more painful because your product or service is less than ideal, it’s difficult to make sales and you might get a lot of negative feedback, it’s still the safest way to improve and grow your product because you’re literally building something that your clients are telling you they want. Too many people spend way too long perfecting a product/service, only to find out that when they finally launch it, no one wants it!

Do you have a favourite technology or software that helps you to run an efficient business?

We use a lot and they are all important. The three most important are probably Skype, to help us communicate with our team everyday, Jira which outlines our whole product so everyone in the team can see what we’re currently developing and what has been released and Xero…Hahaha, you know why we use Xero!

Want to hear it from the man himself? Chris chats Studio Ninja here