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Dutch photography marketplace Smiler snaps $8.5M to launch a new booking platform

Smiler Founders
Picture credits: Smiler

The process of starting your own photography business, self-promotion, and generating bookings traditionally requires significant effort, connections, and a bit of luck. Based out of Amsterdam, Smiler, a photography marketplace, simplifies this process, enabling photographers to connect directly with real consumer demand for high-quality photography using just their camera and the Smiler Photographer app.

Unlike traditional photography services that charge hefty day rates for long bookings, Smiler taps into the abundant foot traffic at tourist hotspots to provide shorter, yet equally remarkable, photography experiences. If you are visiting, some of Europe’s most iconic, must-see destinations, including Paris’s Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum in Rome, and Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia, you can find Smiler photographers. Also, new locations are added every week.

Secures $8.5M funding 

Now, Smiler has announced the successful completion of its latest funding round, raising an additional $8.5 million. The round was led by London-based Octopus Ventures that recently backed Flock, Kita and Exagen. The round also saw participation from Mosaic Ventures, Speedinvest, Dutch Founders Fund and PROfounders Capital. 

This round comes a year after Smiler raised $8 million in seed funding last year. With this, the total investment raised by the company accounts for over $15 million, propelling its expansion plans and its mission to offer affordable, high-quality photoshoot experiences around the world. 

With the fresh funds, Smiler aims to expand its presence globally, introducing thousands of new locations and photoshoot experiences in the next year. Already, the marketplace is integrated with leading Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), further enhancing the tours, activities, and attractions sector. 

Alongside the funding, Smiler has launched a new booking website, allowing consumers to find, plan and book these fast and affordable photoshoots in advance. 

Smiler CEO and co-founder Kasper Middelkoop said, “Most people don’t need hours with a professional photographer for their precious memories. By focusing on popular locations where people seek memorable experiences, such as tourist hotspots, we unlock the value of billions of uncaptured memories. Smiler bridges the gap, making photography accessible and financially attractive for photographers while delivering an invaluable service for consumers.”

“Smiler has a unique value proposition for its photographers – have demand delivered into your app, and all of the tech infrastructure to find, take and share amazing photos with an incremental customer base.” added Matt Chandler, Investor at Octopus Ventures, “The output of this is a level of service that is far superior to the existing way that people create photographic memories. We are delighted to Partner with the Smiler team on their mission to become the dominant global player in their space.”

Gig economy for photographers 

Founded in 2021 by Rob Hulleman, Kasper Middelkoop and Martine Rooth, Smiler works with the mission to achieve that on a global scale for everyone, everywhere. The company is one of the on-the-spot photography marketplaces that makes professional photography accessible to everyone, connecting photographers with consumers at iconic, unique and picturesque destinations. 

Smiler’s technology has been used by photographers to offer impromptu photoshoots at attractions and tourist destinations. These spontaneous photoshoots have been a huge hit with consumers, who benefit from having their visit effortlessly captured in high-quality photos. The ability to find, plan and book these short photoshoot sessions in advance has been one of the most requested features by consumers and photographers alike.

Unleashing a gig economy in this segment, freelance photographers can use the platform to roam around events, selling event photography formally attached to the venue and allowing customers to buy photos there or later online. 

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