Spotlight: PhotoRoom Helps Commerce Businesses Stand Out with Amazing Images

The right photos can give commerce businesses a huge edge in the marketplace. However, editing all those images manually isn’t always easy. Luckily, PhotoRoom uses machine learning to provide a time-saving solution. Read about the tool and the company behind it in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Offers AI photo editing solutions for commerce.

Co-founder and CEO Matthieu Rouif told Small Business Trends, “The app and API helps sellers of all sizes create studio-quality, high performing images that are unique to their brand, more quickly and affordably. Since launching in 2019, the app has been downloaded 40 million+ times worldwide with a 4.7-star review rating from 750k reviews.”

Business Niche

Providing accurate technology.

Rouif says, “No other photo-editing software can edit images as accurately and consistently in the same amount of time. This accuracy means that small businesses, resellers and designers can produce unique, high-quality studio imagery instantly, without having to pay thousands for studio photography or editing.”

How the Business Got Started

Rouif previously worked as a Product Manager at GoPro and in other app development roles. He grew frustrated with manually removing backgrounds in Photoshop and realized he wasn’t alone.

He took a machine learning online course to learn how to mix machine learning and mobile apps. He then met machine learning expert Eliot Andres and the two developed PhotoRoom together.

Biggest Win

Finding an ideal business partner.

Rouif adds, “To me, small businesses are about partnerships, and my biggest win was finding my business partner, Eliot Andres.

“I started my first business on my own, and I didn’t enjoy the experience. When things are going well, you have no one to celebrate with, and when things are going badly, you really feel alone. “When I made the prototype of PhotoRoom, I was looking for a business partner who would complement my skill sets. Someone with different expertise and ideas, but with enough overlap that we could still have a meaningful conversation and understand each other.

“My partnership with Eliot really works because he is an expert in visual artificial intelligence–he literally wrote the book on computer vision–but we still both have deep product knowledge, as I worked in product teams for the last ten years, so we can really challenge each other. The fact that he is also much younger than me also gives him a different perspective.

“Our partnership allowed us to build a lot of the groundwork for our company culture and product vision really quickly. We were able to ship faster together, and accelerate the business faster than I could have alone.”

Biggest Risk

Building a tool that works across various devices.

Rouif explains, “One risk our team took early on was moving from focusing on building for iPhones, to making PhotoRoom available on all channels and devices: web, Android, iOS and our API. It was a huge bet for us to make: if we succeeded, it was going to 10x our growth, and if it had failed, we would have risked slowing user growth with Apple, and spreading our resources too thin–giving our competitors an advantage. So it was a big leap of faith. But Florian – one the first senior software engineers at PhotoRoom – built a prototype in less than a month, and it paid off very quickly.”

Lesson Learned

Find your focus.

Rouif says, “I’ve found that every time we refine our focus, our business takes off. For example, when we started we were trying to build a product for video and photography, and then refocused just on photography. Then we went from photography to just commerce photography, and saw huge growth from that.”

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Making tools more widely available.

Rouif explains, “Right now we have this amazing generative AI tool called Instant Backgrounds, which uses the power of AI to create realistic, studio-quality product images in seconds. Right now, it is only available to PhotoRoom Pro users, as it’s still quite costly for us to generate the images. I’d love to open it up for free to everyone, so they can see the magic of the product, as when users understand what they can do with it, they convert.”

Unexpected Success

Growing in different parts of the world.

Rouif explains, “Initially our whole team was based in Paris, and we were interviewing local users to improve the product. But very quickly we saw a lot of pick up and user growth across Asia. We were featured by Apple in Vietnam, and had an article published about us in Japan–all organic. To me it’s so interesting that you can build something in one part of the world, and that people really connect to your product in a completely different context and culture, with such a different use case. We have a lot of Japanese collectors who share pictures of their manga action figures or lego projects. It’s very fun that people are using PhotoRoom to share their passion with their community.”

* * * * *

Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program

Image: PhotoRoom, Matthieu Rouif and Eliot Andres

Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.