KatchUp: Katie Hobbs

The young entrepreneur shares her private photo-sharing platform, discussing choosing a freemium business model and gaining inspiration from her entrepreneurial parents

Name: Katie Hobbs
Company name: KatchUp
Number of Employees: 10
Location: Greater London
Date launched: 04/08/14
Website: www.katchup.com

Tell us what your business does:

KatchUp is a new way of sharing online with only the people you trust, not the whole world. You can feel comfortable to be the real you and celebrate life’s special moments – when you want, where you want and with who you want. It lets you create your own personal timeline, giving you an easy way to curate your photos and videos all in one place and enjoy them time and time again. You and your family members can download your favourite pictures (at high quality). KatchUp is the perfect way for families to feel part of each other’s lives no matter how far apart they are and with complete privacy from the world’s prying eyes.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

A few years ago I was sat round our kitchen table, chatting with my extended family. We had all these great photos from special occasions (and about 5,000 video clips of our mad family dog, Biggie). We realised is that all those memories were scattered across laptops, phones and computers – and we had no easy way to share and enjoy them privately. KatchUp grew from there.

How did you know there was a market for it?

We were able to identify that there was a significant market opportunity, and that we had the potential to generate income through an honest and transparent revenue stream. People were willing to pay a subscription to KatchUp in exchange for a private space where they could share their memories together, secure in the knowledge that we won’t use their personal data, claim ownership of their content or advertise on the site.

What were you doing before starting up?

I had just finished an undergraduate and Masters degree in sport science. I actually spent a few months investigating business ideas in the sport/health industry but when we had the idea for KatchUp everything snowballed from there.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

I think on some level, yes. My parents run their own company together so naturally their work life would cross over into their home life quite often. I watched from the sidelines as they grew their business from the front-room to a multinational company. I was quite fascinated by their dynamic together: I listened as they devised strategies, dealt with problems and had the occasional heated discussion! I think I learned about business through them by some kind of osmosis.

How did you raise the money?

From my parents – it's a family business through and through! We also won some funding from the Technology Strategy Board last October for a proof of market study.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

We are a ‘Freemium’ service. We offer our members 1GB storage space for free, but they can sign up to a premium account with 10GB space for £2.99 per month. We will also be introducing a photo printing service soon, which will allow us to generate additional revenue streams.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

We started off with quite an ambitions idea because we were not only trying to provide a more authentic, deep and genuine way to consume social media but also challenging traditional ways of generating revenue online. So naturally there were a lot of challenges! It's very hard to develop something that people immediately understand and can use easily so we made sure the product was right by always involving feedback and ideas from real families at every step of the product life cycle. We have also done a lot of market research and testing around price points to make sure our business model is viable.

What was your first big breakthrough?

I can’t say there was ever a Eureka moment! Just a lot of reacting to the things that work and the things that don’t as quickly as possible.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

To always keep things in perspective and try not to get too lost in it. Although every business and person is different, there will probably be some really difficult moments along the way so you need to have other parts to yourself and to your life to keep you balanced.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

My dad once said to me that you can be so immersed in trying to get somewhere that you don’t realise that what’s important is not achieving your goal, but the journey you take to get there. As someone who tends to put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve, these words really resonated with me. I have a strong vision and huge plans for KatchUp, but in five years' time I don’t know where I will be or where KatchUp will be, only that we will have had one hell of a journey to get there!


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