We have some incredible business coaching clients on our books of all sizes in all industries, doing all kinds of great things and offering many learning’s that can be applied to any company. To inspire you with these clients making their mark on NZ and on the world, we have decided to share some of their stories in a regular Q&A.
This time we talked to director of LookDepot, Andy Mackie. You will be aware that traditional photography is in many ways seeing ‘hard times’ (eg. Kodak is not the powerhouse it once was). LookDepot is being very disruptive in the retail marketing sector, helping retailers create good content, fast, using their custom technology. They count Marks & Spencer, Cotton On and Huffer as clients. They’re currently seeing big growth in Australia as well as continuing good results in NZ.
Read Andy’s Q&A below…
Q. Tell us about your business…
A. LookDepot delivers exclusive market-leading technology into Australasia for retail product photography, visual retailing, publishing and multi-channel workflow.
Q. Why did you start it and what was your aim with it?
A. There is an increasing demand for content from consumers – fashion retailers in particular are faced with burgeoning costs with the traditional photographic process, be it in-house or outsourced. Our automated StyleShoots systems allow stylists to capture and post-produce high-quality and consistent product photography in a matter of seconds. For retailers, being online first is a huge strategic advantage, so speed is of the essence. Our visual merchandising software, Mockshop and Shopshape, allow for the images we create to be used by visual merchandising managers to create store layout plans from head office. Our marketing software Matrix provides a fully integrated portal and PIM system with a publishing engine to seamlessly manage the delivery of content to all consumer channels. We feel we put together best-in-class technologies that answer the immediate and long-term challenges faced by retailers. Our list of Australasia’s retailers we now partner with is a testament to the business offering we have – they include Cotton On, Billabong, The Warehouse and well-known travel companies (eg. Flight Centre in the UK).
Q. What lesson in business do you try to pass on to others and why is that?
A. Be sure that the product you offer has market demand and then back yourself – even in times of hardship as every start-up business will face.
Q. What has been your biggest learning in business to date and why? How has it affected you going forward?
A. Just because you intrinsically understand the benefits your business can offer doesn’t mean that others do – you’ve lived and breathed it; they haven’t. Tell your story but try to understand theirs. If it’s right for both parties, the motivation will be there to make it work. Get down to a concise message as to why there is a chance that once they try your product or service they will not be able to live without it!
Q. What is a mantra you live by and why?
A. You are only great at the things that you are most passionate about.
Q. Who is a leader that you learnt something incredibly valuable from and what were the lessons you learnt from them?
A. I get a lot of the inspiration I need from home – Jo is an awesome mother to our two girls and wife to me. She provides constant rock solid support and clear counsel. She’s actually phasing in to run another part of our business, Asset Factory – this is our offering to the local SME fashion market where we offer traditional lookbook and campaign photography along with product photography using our StyleShoots systems. We’re seeing positive growth here as the demands for content are just as important to the SME markets as they are for the larger corporates, but without the depth of product and capital that would warrant the outright purchase. Our SME customer base includes fashion retailers Huffer, Stolen Girlfriend, Andrea Moore, Saben, Minx and Taylor Boutique.
Q. Think about the worst boss you’ve ever had – what did you learn from their style of leadership?
A. The importance of integrity. Nothing is more important than your word. And living up to your word.
Q. If you were 21 years old again and could do any career you wanted, what would you be and why?
A. That’s a hard question – I love what I do now but the journey to here would have started a long time ago. Ironically, my career started at the age of 16, working as an apprentice in London training in Photolithography. 28 years on the transition between lithographic plates made photographically to state-of-the-art photographic systems from StyleShoots with a whole bunch of sales and marketing stuff in the middle.
BUSINESS THINKING QUESTIONS FROM ZAC (LIKE YOU WOULD GET ON ACCME):
(1) Andy’s business is a great example of being disruptive and also of breathing new life into an industry that is getting smaller by the day (nice job Andy!). In your business, what emerging trend or technology (or related product ingredient etc) are you not moving fast enough on to take advantage of? How can you include it to help strengthen your market position?
(2) Of all your products or services which one has the biggest potential? How are you going ‘today’ on maximising the potential of this product or service? As in, are you passing or failing on taking advantage of the opportunity you have? What do you need to do to make more of it?
(2.1) Of all your products or services that you offer, which one does your business put the most effort into but the return is ‘poor’ compared to the effort exerted? What can you do to change this? Are you flogging a dead horse?
(3) Do you truly believe that the product or service you offer is something that your customers cannot live without? If you do not, how can you change this so that your product or service literally is a ‘must have’? And if you do already believe this, how can you make improvements to your product or service pitch to potential customers to get them to better understand that your offering is a ‘must-have’ and without it, they will be less successful / satisfied / profitable etc?
(4) Given Andy’s background in photography, what a lucky guy to be able to be offering such a disruptive product in the industry he is so passionate about… How are your passion levels right this moment? Do you think you can be more passionate about what you do? What could you do / should you do to be more passionate? Passion makes success. Here is to your passion levels rising off the scale!
(5) Do you have clear counsel when you need it? Everybody needs a sounding board from time to time… Hopefully your partner is as smart as Andy’s Jo. If you do not have clear counsel when you need it, what could you do to get a better network of sounding boards?
(6) Integrity, integrity, integrity… Do you think people view you personally as having huge integrity? What do you do that might make people doubt your integrity? And any thoughts on how you could take people’s perception of your integrity up another notch or three?
Thanks for the great business thinking Andy! We look forward to watching the success of Look Depot and Asset Factory continue!