Interview with Ewan Sou, Founder of Instantly.sg
What is Instantly.SG and how does it work? In simple terms, we are a photo booth company. We provide photo booth services for events/D&D/parties etc. In fact, we work closely with hogarth & ogilvy and we did their d&d last year too. But... of course, its very competitive in this photo booth space. So, we differentiate ourselves through technology. We are the first company in Singapore to come out with a few services like Dubsmash video booth, 2 in 1 Boomerang Photo Booth, and of course, the 360 Time Stop booth which we did for Canon a few months back.
When did you start Instantly.SG and what inspired you to do so?
Most entrepreneurs start something to solve a problem or scratch their own itch. To fill in the gaps of a market void or had dreams of striking it big. Instantly.sg however, was neither of those things. It was a wholly unplanned move.
My name is Ewan, and I started Instantly.sg. I first conceptualised the business in April 2014. 2 months later, the company had its very first event in June 2014. A lot of people always thought that I started this business because I’m passionate about photography. The typical ‘technical guy who knows photography’. Truth is, I am not technical at all, and certainly not a photographer – in fact, I don’t fancy photo taking at all!
Can you tell us more about the 360 time-stop photo booth?
It is a multi-camera photo booth system. Using 30 cameras, we fire all of them at the exactly the same instance. then our software kicks in to stitch the 30 photos taken together to form an animated gif. the gif is then converted to a social media friendly video version. all these are done by our custom software.
What are some of the challenges you have faced?
For setting up of the 360 time stop photo booth, the main issue is how to get all the cameras to trigger at exactly the same time. We can only afford a maximum of a few mili-seconds difference. Any duration more than that and the floating effect will not be there anymore (if someone jumps or throw an object). To solve this, we actually sat down and study hard on electronics. How potential difference works to drive a current through to trigger the camera, how do we isolate different current to each camera via using diodes etc? I even engaged a freelancer from Russia with electrical engineering to consult and help us remotely.
In terms of challenges for starting this business, there are a lot. I will just list them down in point forms below
- Unstable income (especially at the start)
- Limited funds (i didn't raise any money or take any angel funding. Just used my own savings. At the start, I literally did everything myself. From website, coding, design, operations, customer service, delivery, logistics etc. It was tough but by being hands-on, I learnt a lot and picked up a lot of skills).
- Differentiating ourselves (there are so so many photo booth companies around, how can we stand out? why should people hire us)
What are your plans for the future?
- Fully stabilise operations in Singapore
- Venture overseas for Instantly.sg
- Work on other businesses