Simple Booth is reimagining the photo booth, and they’re doing so via technology. Simple Booth enables people to take and share photos quickly and easily via its cloud platform. It’s also a hardware company, having designed and built HALO®, the first complete photo booth solution for top brands, agencies and businesses. HALO integrates robust hardware, an intuitive iPad app and a sophisticated online platform to deliver a seamless and modern photo booth solution. Simple Booth has also been a Bigfoot portfolio company for some time now, so we recently sat down with Mark Hennings, the company’s co-founder and CEO, to get his take on the business and what it’s been like working with us at Bigfoot Capital.
Tell us a little about what Simple Booth does.
Mark Hennings: We’re creating new ways to bring people together and capture memories, or photo experiences. The photo booth concept itself is the seed, and we’re growing it into something big—basically, a new way for people to capture photos at events, parties, and their favorite places.There are plenty of events where people are used to seeing photo booths, and our product works great there as a modern stand-in for the photo booth. But there’s more to it than that.There are also a lot of other places where people want to capture photos but typically don’t at the moment. So, we might see our product permanently installed in a retail shop or at a bar, things like that. There’s no end to where it might be fun to take a group selfie.
Where does SaaS come in?
MH: We’ve created a really fun, social digital platform that lives in the cloud. Our photo booths can be installed pretty much anywhere, and everything is saved to the cloud as soon as you take a shot. Then, you receive your photo by text and can view it in any number of different ways on your phone. Save it, share it on social, tag your friends, create animated images…it’s up to you.
What’s your capital situation looked like so far?
MH: We started the company in 2016 and when we talked to Bigfoot in 2018 we had gotten to a little over $3 million in revenue a year, so we were pretty far along in terms of early-stage bootstrapping. We’ve done almost all of it ourselves.But we’re trying to do a lot of different things—both software and hardware, and creating a platform. But building hardware products is expensive and time-consuming, as is prototyping. On top of all this, we’re a seasonal business. We’re busiest when people are having events.All of those factors mean that sometimes we have to figure out how we’re going to finance a project or how we’re going to cover cash flow during a down month—because a down month is just something that happens when you’re in a seasonal business like ours.To get over that, we’d sometimes do high-interest Shopify loans or PayPal loans just because they’re so easy and quick. But when you look at the interest rates, they’re crazy expensive. Until we met Bigfoot, we were just taking expensive short-term capital options.
How did you become involved with Bigfoot?
MH: Then Brian came along. He explained to us that he was going to be more flexible than the capital products we had been using. He was going to actually look at our company as a whole and put forth a financing solution that works for us, rather than just throwing out a “one-size-fits-all” solution not tailored to how we operate.That was great to see from a lender. He cared about our business and wanted to see us succeed.On top of that, he offered a much better interest rate than we had been paying and was able to lend us what we needed to accomplish our goals and build cool s***.Another great value-add was Brian has been really helpful connecting us with the people in his network. We met our bookkeepers and accountants through him, our content guy through him. It’s been really helpful beyond just the capital.
Why did you decide on Bigfoot versus pursuing venture capital?
MH: We’re at a place now where we are selling product, but we don’t necessarily know how big the market is going to be. For that reason, a VC may not invest in us because a lot of what they’re looking for are super-high returns and we just can’t guarantee that’s going to happen yet. We think it will, but we can’t prove it.But we can guarantee that we’re going to make enough money in the next 12 months to three years to pay off debt, that’s for sure. And for that, Bigfoot was a perfect fit.On top of that, we also know a big bank is not going to work with us. It takes someone who’s willing to take a little risk, but still has a reasonable chance of getting a good return. That’s Bigfoot.And with Brian, we have a personal relationship. We went mountain biking once—hopefully we’ll go again sometime—but we know that he’s interested in our whole business and not just our interest payments. He checks up on us. He gives us advice in a personal way, not just making sure our numbers look right. It’s a good relationship and he’s been very flexible and easy to work with, so that’s been really helpful and we’re growing as a result.