A perfect model for success

The prospects are good for a start-up firm that has the technology to provide the media with instant access to brand images.

A perfect model for success

In 2012, Dublin-based PR Slides, became the first Irish company to set up an online library of photos of fashion and interior design brands, which can be instantly accessed and downloaded by journalists.

Now the company has raised €500,000 with the intent of developing this business internationally.

It came into being in 2012 when company founder Emma Jane Power — a model and part-time fashion journalist — noticed that, despite major technological advances, getting an image from a company to the media was still a relatively slow process.

“As a model, I saw that it could take time for brands to deliver images to journalists and as a journalist I had to wait for images to come in the post or to be sent by email. I thought there should be a quicker way of providing the images to the media,” she says.

Setting up the company in the attic of her home in Waterford, she used €10,000 that she earned from a modelling job and set to work.

“I presented my idea to Boss, Gant, and Meadows & Byrne and some other companies I had worked for and they liked the idea,” says Ms Power, who signed up with the Enterprise Ireland- backed New Frontiers programme to acquire the business skills she needed.

Her initial funding went on hiring a designer to develop the website, which went live in Sept 2012.

“The first client was Meadows & Byrne and we signed up seven or eight brands, offering them a few months trial to start with.

“When I had 2,000 images I sent emails to journalists to inform them about the site, which is free for them to use. I expected to sign up 40 in the first year but in the first week after we launched 300 journalists registered for the service.”

The company started with images of fashion and interiors and has since expanded to include travel and food. “The aim has been to provide every kind of image required by journalists. We now have close to 7,000 images and represent 50 companies which include Boss, Gant, Carraig Donn, Harvey Norman, and Littlewoods Ireland.”

Early last year, Enterprise Ireland provided €50,000 in competitive start-funding and this enabled Ms Power to take the business out of her attic and move it to an office in Ranelagh, Dublin.

Although she started the company on her own, she attracted the interest of Niall Harbison, an entrepreneur who previously set up social media agency Simply Zesty and subsequently sold it to UTV. Mr Harbison invested and encouraged Ms Power to take on staff.

“We took on a brand manager and a sales person and increased turnover by 300% within three months,” says Ms Power.

Mr Harbison joined the company full-time — as joint CEO — last August.

Since then, PR Slides has focused on building up customers and expanding its library of brand images.

PR companies are also using the website to increase media exposure of the brands they are promoting. She estimates that over 800 images from PR Slides’s website are now being used monthly in the press.

This month, the company raised €500,000 from Kernel Capital, Enterprise Ireland and a number of investors including Eamon Leonard, Johnny Walker, and Julian Kulkarni — as well as Mr Harbison.

This will allow the company to focus on international markets. “We have already been contacted by some brands in the US and this was an indication that our product could scale. What we need to do now is create a critical mass of brands,’ Ms Power says.

The funding will be used to recruit more staff and Ms Power envisages the number will grow by 20 by the end of the year.

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