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Ben Howes - Co-founder of Zoetrope reveals all about his innovative startup

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by Startacus Admin

We heart innovation here at Startacus. So we were pretty chuffed when we got the chance to chat recently with Ben Howes, co-founder of Zoetrope, the innovative interactive 3D photography startup.
Here's what we discovered:

So Ben, what is Zoetrope?

Zoetrope an interactive 3D photography company. Our engage service captures our clients products in 3D for e-commerce use. All clients get free use and free updates to the Zoetrope Engage Viewer, which can be easily embedded in any website by anyone! Currently we can photograph items which are between 5cm and 100cm on the longest side, but we will be expanding our range further.

Interactive 3D photography?

You’ll have to look at our demos! Products are rotatable and elevateable to allow customers to get an all around view of products. We’ve got loads of demos in our portfolio, like this one which explain it better than I can:


What was the inspiration for Zoetrope?

One way and another I've ended up involved with product photography at a few points in my life! When I was 13 I made a site for a local portrait studio and was told that 'packshots' (a very common type of product photography on a white background) were excruciatingly boring! Later in life, my now co-founder needed 1000's of product photographs for his online gemstone business. 

As is my instinct, I was exploring the options for photographing large volumes of products and created designs for an automated system. I was able to do a masters thesis on 3D scanning and created the technology which would become Zoetrope.

After 18 months of R&D, finishing the first system was a really magic time and we decided that it had much more potential than just photographing gemstones! We set about creating Zoetrope straight away (nearly a year ago now!) to make it available to other people. All in all, the idea has been about for 4 or so years and there’s been 2.5 years of hard work so far, with lots more challenges yet to come!

ben howesWho is your target market?

Anyone who sells a physical product online! Gifts, Antiques, collectables, instruments and homewares tend to work best. Our biggest client to date is who retail a huge selection of gifts, so far we’ve done a couple of hundred of the 1000’s of products they stock.

Who is your competition?

At the moment, the 3D space is really young for ecommerce. We're mainly in competition with 2D packshots which is a really well established market. We're relying on offering a better experience for the end user which results in more sales and less returns!

Any advice to other startups?

I think that realising when you have your MVP (minimum viable product) is really difficult. You never feel like it's quite there and I for one prolonged the process of refining my service for too long before getting out there and talking to people about it.

My other piece of advice would be that talking to people is really important! Not selling to people, just having a conversation. I feel that I have taken 'life's a pitch' a bit too seriously in the past! People like people after all.

Any last words for our readers and members?

If you've gotten this far, the least I can do is give you a discount code for Zoetrope. Here's 10% off with the code: "IREADITALL"!

Cheers Ben! Let's hope plenty of Startacus members take you up on your fab and generous offer.
All the best for the future for both you and Zoetrope - we'll be keeping our eyes and ears peeled as we reckon exciting time lie ahead!

If you like what you see here on Startacus, why not become a member of our growing community? It's free! And you'll get all this - exclusive access to our Business Toolkit, discounts and offers galore for your business via our member only business deals, the chance to network and connect with loads of fellow self-starters, and maybe even become our celebrated 'Self-Starter of the Week' and tell the world your startup tale! Join right here for free...


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Published on: 7th July 2014

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